Green Loan Program Will Help Reduce Energy Costs, Create Jobs, and Advance Clean Energy Economy

November 17, 2009

Assemblyman Englebright joined with Congressman Steve Israel (left) and Kevin MacLeod (center), chairman of the Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association (LISEIA) and its state counterpart NYESIA, to announce the passage of legislation that will enable NY State to access federal Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Bonds. This new measure will assist residential and commercial property owners in financing energy retrofits as well as expand the New York clean energy market and create green collar jobs.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) announced that the State Legislature passed legislation authorizing municipalities to establish sustainable green loan programs in order to finance energy-efficiency improvements to residential, commercial, industrial and public buildings using federal funds (Chapter 497 of 2009). The federal Department of Energy recently made approximately $454 million in Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funds available nationally, which New York State and municipalities can now apply for.

Assemblyman Englebright said the bill would authorize a municipality to adopt a local law establishing their own green loan program – which would use the federal funding to offer low-interest loans to property owners for installing energy-efficient improvements and renewable systems. These programs will help offset the immediate costs by creating a loan system that allows for payments to be made on property tax bills over time.

“Residential, commercial, and public buildings account for more than 40% of all energy use in our nation,” said Assemblyman Englebright. “Coupled with the fact that most buildings were built without a thought about conservation, we end up with the reality that the majority of structures on Long Island are wasting substantial amounts of energy and contributing unnecessary greenhouse gasses to the environment. With fuel costs high and utility rates among the highest in the nation, families and businesses can no longer afford to waste energy and money.”

Knowing that most residents don’t have the upfront costs necessary to make their homes more energy efficient or install solar generating systems, Assemblyman Englebright introduced legislation to authorize municipalities to establish sustainable green loan programs to finance energy-efficiency improvements to residential property as well as installing renewable energy generating systems. When it became known that our state could get its fair share of the $454 million in PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy Funds) bonds recently made available by the federal Department of Energy if enabling legislation was passed, the bill was amended and passed into law with multiple sponsorship.

Already green loan programs are being developed on the local level that will enable residents and businesses to make their homes and buildings more energy efficient, thereby decreasing utility bills and shrinking carbon footprints. Assemblyman Englebright said improvements include basic measures like window and door replacement, caulking, weather-stripping, insulation and heating and cooling upgrades, as well as the installation of renewable energy systems. These include solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, anaerobic digester systems, and fuel cell technologies.

The infusion of low-interest PACE federal funds will act as seed money to jumpstart municipal green loan programs throughout the state. Homeowners will soon be able to borrow money to install energy-efficient improvements and renewable energy generating systems and pay it back at low interest rates over 20 years.

“By partnering with the federal government and local communities, we can help move our state towards achieving its energy efficiency and renewable energy goals, create jobs that can’t be outsourced, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance a clean energy economy, “said Assemblyman Englebright

“The passage of the Pace Bonds Green Loans bill is great news for Long Island businesses and homeowners,” said Kevin MacLeod, Chairman of the Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association (LISEIA) and Vice President of the NY State Chapter (NYSEIA). “Doing energy efficiency upgrades or installing solar can be quite costly. Considering the state of our economy, paying for these types of projects has become next to impossible. Now that local municipalities will be able to offer a mechanism of low interest loans through the PACE Bonds Programs, all New York homeowners will be able to make their homes energy efficient and install solar systems. This means green business for contractors and green jobs for New Yorkers.”

In order to receive a loan, a residential or commercial property would be required to undergo an energy audit or feasibility study by a certified contractor. Municipalities would be required to verify and report on the installation and performance of the improvements and systems. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) would oversee the loan program by establishing cost-effective criteria for energy-efficiency improvements, establishing criteria for certifying contractors that perform efficiency audits and feasibility studies – as well as providing for and establishing installation and performance reporting requirements.

This legislation establishes a sliding scale for payment of energy audit fees for residential projects and audit fees may be fully waived for income-qualified homeowners. If a business or residence chooses to participate in the energy-efficiency project or retrofit, any applicable audit costs may be capitalized in the repayment of the retrofit costs.

“Promoting green energy doesn’t have to mean paying more to be socially and environmentally responsible,” said Assemblyman Englebright. “The people of our state want their homes and properties to become more energy and cost efficient, and this new program will help by enabling municipalities across our state to help residents and businesses with the process by making low interest federal funds available.”