Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Spur Energy Efficiency, Consumer Savings, and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions While Supporting Prevailing Wage Measures
Governor Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package of three bills that will strengthen New York’s commitment to clean energy development and energy efficiency, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Governor signed the bills at Newlab headquarters in Brooklyn alongside State Senator Kevin Parker, State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assemblymember Pat Fahy, Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, and key labor leaders and climate advocates. These three new laws support the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal of an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 while ensuring a just and equitable transition for New York workers and communities.
“The impacts of climate change are felt all over New York State, and in response we are taking bold action and building a stronger, more resilient New York by guaranteeing healthier, greener places to live and work,” Governor Hochul said. “Now more than ever, the importance of a cost-effective green transformation is clear, and strengthening building codes and appliance standards will reduce carbon emissions and save New Yorkers billions of dollars by increasing efficiency. This multi-pronged legislative package will not only replace dirty fossil fuel infrastructure, but it will also further cement New York as the national leader in climate action and green jobs.”
The Advanced Building Codes, Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act of 2022 bolsters New York’s regulatory and policy environment to support energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction strategies in buildings along with expanded appliance standards. The Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop a regulatory structure for utility thermal energy networks – including district geothermal and other community-scale thermal infrastructure projects – for heating and cooling homes, and to direct utilities to launch pilot projects in their service territories. The Governor also signed legislation requiring prevailing wage for renewable energy projects one megawatt and larger that involve the procurement of renewable energy credits from a public entity. Together, with the strong promise held by community thermal systems for existing pipe workers and other skilled trades, accelerated action in building efficiency, and strengthened wage standards for renewable energy development, these legislative measures demonstrate the State’s commitment to ensuring projects create quality jobs for New Yorkers in clean energy and planning for a just transition.
Greening New York’s building sector by investing in clean heating and cooling solutions presents the greatest prospect to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while realizing a unique workforce development opportunity. Earlier this year, the Climate Action Council’s Just Transition Working Group issued a Jobs Study that details the number of jobs that will be created as part of New York’s clean energy transition, and found the buildings sector accounted for well over half of all the jobs added in growing clean energy subsectors from 2019 to 2030. The study estimates that overall employment in the buildings sector will grow to approximately 366,000 by 2040, more than doubling the 2019 workforce by adding over 200,000 new jobs. The legislative package signed today is one part of a holistic suite of policies and programs needed to drive decarbonization in the buildings sector at scale and realize these significant opportunities for near-, medium-, and long-term job growth.
Advanced Building Codes, Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act of 2022
Legislation A.10439/S.9405 requires the New York State Energy Conservation Construction Code to be updated to achieve energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reductions in support of the Climate Act. Advanced energy codes could reduce ongoing energy bills, leading to nearly $4 billion in energy savings for building owners by 2030, with potential for even greater savings when factoring in recent inflation and energy cost increase trends.
Additionally, this legislation authorizes the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in consultation with the Department of State, to adopt efficiency standards for appliances and equipment that reduce energy usage. Expanding appliance standards will reduce emissions and deliver $15 billion in savings to New Yorkers through 2035, including $6 billion to low- and moderate-income households, by reducing wasted energy from the use of less efficient everyday products and appliances.
The legislation also authorizes the Governor to designate the President of NYSERDA and the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation as members of the State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council (Codes Council), to align the work of the Climate Action Council with the Codes Council to achieve the goals of the Climate Act through advances in the building energy code.
State Senator Kevin Parker said, “For our great state to reach our CLCA goals it will take an all of the above approach. My two bills the Governor signed into law are important steps in achieving those goals. Buildings are the single largest user of energy in the State of New York, and the largest source of greenhouse gasses and other climate emissions, due to the combustion of fossil fuels for heating, domestic hot water, as well cooking. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for signing this important legislation into law. Ultimately, this legislation helps tie local, union jobs and efforts to decarbonize buildings and neighborhoods at an affordable price due to utilities’ cheaper cost of capital, all of which is in the public’s interest.”
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, “Reducing energy and water usage is no longer an if — but a must in addressing climate change. The Advanced Building Codes Act will save New York utility ratepayers up to $15 billion by the year 2035 while reducing New York’s energy consumption and in turn, help meet our ambitious climate mandates. By simply increasing the efficiency and energy standards of appliances and equipment, and adding the state’s climate mandates set forth under the CLCPA into New York’s state energy conservation construction code, we’re continuing to tackle one of the largest sources of our carbon emissions: building stock. Passing this legislation means we’re saving New Yorkers money while improving our overall energy efficiency and putting us on a path to meet our climate mandates. I’m proud to see this bill signed today and thank you to Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate sponsor Kevin Parker, and the environmental advocates who worked to get this passed.”
Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act
Legislation A.10493/S.9422 allows utilities to own, operate, and manage thermal energy networks, as well as supply distributed thermal energy, with PSC oversight. Heating and cooling networks – also referred to as community thermal or district energy systems – are a resilient, energy efficient, and clean solution that can also help New York State meet its ambitious climate goals. By leveraging multiple sources of existing waste heat (such as water, wastewater, and geothermal, among others) and connecting a diverse set of building types on a shared loop, thermal energy networks can provide significant operating and energy cost savings when compared to more traditional heating and cooling methods, while also reducing demand on the electric grid.
This legislation will promote the development of thermal energy networks throughout the State, providing benefits by reducing fossil fuel usage for heating and cooling through community-scale infrastructure solutions, along with employment opportunities for existing utility workers and new workers. The enabling legislation will build on the progress of, and complement, NYSERDA’s active community thermal program, which to-date has funded feasibility studies, detailed design studies, and other advanced project construction incentives to more than three dozen sites across the state.
Assemblymember Latoya Joyner said, “Today we take an important step forward in addressing climate change and creating green jobs that will benefit generations of New Yorkers for the future. We can no longer afford to stand idly by as climate change wreaks havoc on communities across our state, and I applaud Governor Hochul for taking swift action and to create a cleaner, greener New York for all.”
Prevailing Wage for Renewable Energy Projects One Megawatt and Larger
Legislation A.9598/S.8648 requires prevailing wage for renewable energy projects one megawatt and larger that involve the procurement of renewable energy credits from a public entity, ultimately supporting the Governor’s new goal for ten gigawatts of distributed solar by 2030, enough to annually power nearly 700,000 average-sized homes. New York’s ten gigawatt roadmap, approved by the PSC in April, provides a comprehensive strategy to expand the state’s successful NY-Sun initiative into one of the largest distributed solar programs of its kind in the nation. The public investment to achieve ten gigawatts of solar will spur approximately $4.4 billion in private investment to bring awarded projects to fruition, for a total of $5.9 billion in expected investment over the mid- to late-2020s. 6,000 additional solar jobs will be created across the state, including with the State’s first application of prevailing wage requirements for solar projects between one and five megawatts.
State Senator Jessica Ramos, Chair of the Senate Labor Committee, said, “Putting prevailing wages and organized labor at the helm of our State’s transition to renewable energy will allow New York to lift up communities with family-sustaining wages while leading on our efforts to tackle the climate crisis. I’m thrilled that my bill with Assembly Member Joyner is being signed today, and hope it is one of many steps to build a climate future with working families as the priority.”
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “New York State is addressing climate change across sectors and technologies and we are at the forefront of solutions to lower carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency while creating family-sustaining jobs across our state. These measures will provide significant energy cost savings to consumers, let them have greater access to solutions for controlling their carbon footprint, ensure jobs of the future are advanced responsibly, and support building more sustainable communities with highly efficient, modern appliances and cleaner heating and cooling solutions benefitting all New Yorkers, especially those of low-to moderate income and in disadvantaged communities.”
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “New York continues to be the nation’s leader in climate change action and greenhouse gas emission reductions. These multi-pronged new laws signed by Governor Hochul will help move our state from old fuel infrastructure to a new path of clean energy that will allow the economy to grow with both job creation and community sustainability while remaining a national frontrunner in fostering a clean environment for all its residents.”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “To support New York’s nation-leading actions to address climate change, we need meaningful legislation to achieve our ambitious climate goals. These three bills will reduce climate-altering emissions, ramp up renewable energy generation, and ensure environmental sustainability is a priority in every corner of our state. By signing this legislation Governor Hochul is once again sending a strong message that in order to reach our goals we must make critical changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience.”
New York State Department of Public Service CEO Rory M. Christian said, “I congratulate Governor Hochul and the Legislature for having the vision and willingness to tackle head on the threat posed by climate change. The actions approved today will lower energy costs to consumers, and provide the tools we need to lower greenhouse gas emissions, while also helping stimulate job growth in New York State.”
Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Today’s new laws underscore Governor Hochul’s commitment to combatting climate change and dramatically reducing New York’s greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. By strengthening our State’s building codes to achieve higher energy efficiency, costs will decline for families at a critical time and our communities will enjoy the health benefits of cleaner air as we replace the existing gas infrastructure. These initiatives complement Governor Hochul’s $25 billion Housing Plan, which will increase New York’s supply of affordable, energy-efficient homes by 100,000, and electrify an additional 50,000 homes across the state.”
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “This is a win for our environment, our expansive green economy, and most importantly for workers across New York State. As co-chair of the Just Transition Working Group, I applaud Governor Hochul for ensuring that these workers will receive fair wages, honoring her commitment to an equitable, environmentally-friendly future for our great state.”
Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, said, “Today’s bill-signing represents a significant investment by the state in efforts to advance our energy efficiency goals and create thousands of high-quality, middle-class jobs with benefits. We applaud Governor Hochul for her unwavering commitment to trailblazing these projects and ensuring the tradesmen and tradeswomen involved are thoroughly supported. Now more than ever, we need clean energy projects that create opportunity and stability for New York’s working people and continue to position our state as a leader in modern efficiency standards.”
Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, said, “With today’s bill signings, New York continues to set the standard for the rest of the country on reducing emissions while ensuring a just transition for workers and communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and its causes. We thank Governor Hochul, the legislative leaders and bill sponsors for their leadership and for understanding that addressing climate change and maintaining and creating good union jobs go hand in hand when we’re thoughtful and intentional in incorporating protections for the current and future workforce.”
Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “We applaud Governor Kathy Hochul for signing the Advanced Building Codes, Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act of 2022 and the Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act, both essential advancements for New York to reach our CLCPA goals. This legislation will ensure more efficient buildings and appliances, along with an innovative approach paving the way for utilities to build emissions-free ways to heat and cool our homes and buildings, we are providing enormous cost and greenhouse gas savings for New Yorkers. State-led climate action is more important than ever, and we’re pleased to see Governor Hochul, Senator Parker, Assemblymember Fahy, and Assemblymember Joyner and the legislature advancing these measures.”
Lisa Dix, New York Director for the Building Decarbonization Coalition, said, “We applaud the New York State Legislature for passing nation-leading building decarbonization legislation this session that will slash climate emissions from buildings, create union jobs and put us on track to significantly reduce pollution in our homes, workplaces, and communities; and today, we thank the Governor for signing them into law. New York is again in the national forefront and paving the way to accelerate and build a robust market for clean heating and cooling technologies, decarbonize our built environment with a union workforce at scale, and substantially invest directly into our communities most disproportionately impacted by climate change.”
Anne Reynolds, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York stated, “These are the new policies we need to gradually transition our buildings to be zero-emissions and ensure the development of new renewable energy projects result in good-paying jobs for New York workers. We applaud the legislature and the Governor for taking the actions needed to put New York State on the path towards meeting our ambitious climate goals.”
John J. Murphy, International Representative of the United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, said, “The journey to a clean energy future requires an ‘All of the Above Strategy.’ The adoption of the Utility Thermal Energy Network & Jobs Act will provide a just transition for thousands of middle-class New Yorkers while forging a path to decarbonization. We are grateful that Governor Kathy Hochul’s shared vision for a clean energy future was met with enthusiasm by the State Legislature via Senator Kevin Parker and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner. Their hard work in partnership with Governor Hochul’s actions will help New York preserve and create thousands of jobs, lower utility bills, and achieve its clean energy goals and objectives for years to come.”
Sonal Jessel, MPH, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said, “We thank New York State Governor Kathy Hochul for signing the Advanced Building Codes, Appliance, & Equipment Efficiency Standards Act, passed by the New York State legislature this year. By establishing stronger energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, this bill will help reduce utility rates and greenhouse gas emissions across the state. This is critical because low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by climate change, which is fueled by greenhouse gases, and these same communities are forced to spend disproportionate amounts of their household income on utility bills.”
Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN NY, said, “As New York State implements the CLCPA (Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act), the most ambitious climate law in the country, we need labor and climate groups working together toward a just transition. The Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act (S9422) is an example of what comes out of that collective action. It presents an opportunity to effectively decarbonize our buildings at the scale necessary and transform New York’s electric and gas utilities. It enables them to build emissions-free thermal energy networks while keeping the current workforce and creating middle-class career jobs for low-income communities and communities of color hit first and worst by the climate crisis. We applaud Governor Hochul for signing this important legislation and look forward to continuing to work together to deliver on the environmental, equity, and just transition mandates in New York’s climate law, the CLCPA.”
Jessica Azulay, Executive Director, Alliance for a Green Economy, said, “We are thrilled that Governor Hochul has signed the Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act, which has the potential to revolutionize the way we heat and cool our communities. We look forward to working together with the administration, labor unions, community organizations, and utilities to implement this solution to the climate crisis that will make renewable heating more accessible and affordable and create good union jobs.
Shaun Stewart, CEO of Newlab, said, “Governor Hochul and the Legislature should be applauded for passing and signing this critical legislation, which will help make our buildings more efficient, lower costs for utility payers, and set New York on a course for decarbonization. To achieve the Governor’s bold vision, we will also need new technology and new ideas. Luckily, New York is fast becoming home to some of the most exciting clean technology startups and innovation. Newlab is proud to play an anchor role in that growing carbon tech ecosystem, and host today’s signing ceremony.”
New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $33 billion in 102 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2020, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.