By GREGORY ZELLER //
Governor Andrew Cuomo is hitting the gas on his ambitious environmental agenda.
The governor on Friday announced a dramatic acceleration of his energy-efficiency plans for New York State, including a comprehensive strategy to achieve significant greenhouse gas-emission reductions over the next seven years.
Targeting annual efficiencies equivalent to the amount of energy required to power nearly 2 million homes, Cuomo’s revamped plan includes $36.5 million in new state investments that, according to the governor’s office, will help prepare more than 19,000 New Yorkers for new jobs on the energy industries.
Also in the mix are a slate of new programs and incentives designed to help New York achieve nearly one-third of the total greenhouse gas-emission reductions it has targeted for 2030, a full five years early.
Noting “energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way for New Yorkers to lower utility bills, curb harmful emissions and battle climate change,” Cuomo said he was stepping up his already-ambitious energy agenda in direct response to the environmental shortcomings of the current federal administration.
“As the federal government abdicates its responsibility to safeguard our environment, we must continue our bold action to reduce emissions and protect all New Yorkers, today and in the future, from the devastating effects of climate change,” the governor added.
It’s hardly the first time Cuomo has lambasted President Donald Trump’s handling of environmental matters. In June 2017, Cuomo called the president “reckless” for pulling the United States out of the international climate-change agreement known as the Paris Agreement, and responded by cofounding with other national governors the United States Climate Alliance.
Cuomo also faulted Trump’s environmental positions when the governor kicked off New York State’s $1.8 billion Clean Climate Careers Initiative last summer.
Through the new statewide efficiency agenda announced Friday, the governor is incentivizing developers, commercial building owners and residential households to pursue energy technologies that will help reduce statewide energy consumption by 185 trillion British thermal units – the equivalent energy consumed by 1.8 million New York homes – by 2025.
The idea is to pursue greenhouse reductions through targeted new construction, older building retrofits, the installation of efficient appliances and the expanded use of innovative technologies like next-generation heat pumps.
In addition, the governor announced New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will commit an additional $36.5 million to train some 19,500 New Yorkers to perform clean-energy-related jobs – the “industry where the jobs of the future will be created,” according to State Labor Commissioner Robert Reardon.
Cuomo is also directing the state’s Public Service Commission to ensure that “a substantial portion” of the new energy-efficiency activity targets programs in low- to moderate-income regions, “which will complement the state’s existing progressive energy options for these New Yorkers,” according to the governor’s office.
Praising Cuomo’s leadership, New York State Energy and Finance Chairman Richard Kauffman applauded Albany’s “tremendous strides to reduce the costs of clean energy, support private sector investment, grow the clean-energy economy across the state and create opportunities for new good jobs.”
“All New Yorkers will benefit as the market delivers energy efficiency more cost-effectively, creating a healthier and safer environment in the process,” Kauffman said Friday.