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NYC’s Green Jobs Roadmap Includes Renewable Energy (USA)

Credits: ©2009 Center for American Progress

New Yorkers have turned the vision of a new greencollar economy into a realistic blueprint for implementation that other cities can follow - the NYC Green Jobs Roadmap. The plan recommends and outlines an inclusive green economy that employs thousands in green-collar jobs that help upgrade infrastructure, improve the health of our communities, and reduce our nation’s reliance on imported energy that degrades the environment. It estimates that investment in solar energy would create 42 percent more job-years per dollar than a comparable investment in fossil fuel. The Roadmap assumes that the city needs to adopt a greener, more sustainable economic growth agenda to thrive. As a global city surrounded by water, New York is particularly vulnerable to global climate instability and energy supply volatility. Globally, 634 million people live in areas most vulnerable to rising seas. The Roadmap articulates the steps necessary to make sure that the path leads to strong economic growth, good jobs, and broadly shared benefits for all New Yorkers.

 

NYC Solar Arrays

New York state gave Big Sue, LLC, which has about 3,500 square feet of solar panels on its roof, the OK to sell any extra power it generates from the panels back to the grid in January 2009. ©2009 Timothy Gardner/Reuters

Part of the green-collar job policies are aimed at new and emerging industries, like solar panel installation; others are focused on expanding and improving existing industries and training programs, like the building and construction

trades that provide the backbone for weatherization and retrofitting. The report also takes a comprehensive approach to clean-energy policies. It includes recommendations for policies that help create a market for new renewable and efficient energy products and services—for example, improved building codes—and in turn help to grow existing industries and spur new green ones. It provides recommendations to ensure the jobs created in these new industries are high-quality jobs that provide decent wages and benefits. It also includes ideas for improving job training programs so that New Yorkers—especially low-income and underserved New Yorkers—are adequately prepared for these jobs. And finally, it includes critical recommendations for better interagency collaboration and data gathering. Energy highlights include:

Renewable energy technology installation:
Renewable energy comes from natural inexhaustible resources such as the sun, wind, and tides; renewable technologies to generate electricity, heat, or cooling include solar photovoltaic or PV panels, solar thermal systems, wind turbines, tidal turbines, geothermal systems, and anaerobic digesters. Many of these systems can be installed at a building site to power an individual building or campus, or connected to one another to form alternative energy plants feeding electricity into the grid like a conventional power plant.

The energy sector’s major market forces
Several policies, projects, and programs are driving the growth of the clean and efficient energy sector in New York City. A few of the most important catalysts are highlighted below as examples, and a more comprehensive list can be found in the report and appendix

Municipal initiatives
The Bloomberg administration and the City Council, in conjunction with a broad range of stakeholders, have undertaken several initiatives under PlaNYC 2030 to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 while meeting the city’s projected energy demand. The city plans to finance a suite of municipal building efficiency projects with an annual commitment of 10 percent of the city’s energy budget—approximately $80 million in fiscal year 2008. As of April 22, 2008, the Energy Planning Board had launched 14 initiatives.

These initiatives are expected to create about 124,000 jobs in construction, maintenance, and engineering over the next ten years. The City Council also introduced the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan in 2009, which is made up of four pieces of legislation that will require buildings over 50,000 square feet to benchmark their energy and water use, undergo periodic energy audits, and implement retrofit measures that can be paid back within five years. This legislation is predicted to create over 2,000 new jobs in energy auditing and thousands of temporary construction jobs over ten years. New York City’s government has also led other cities in renewable energy, notably releasing a request for proposals for the installation of two megawatts of solar panels on municipal rooftops, which would effectively double the solar capacity installed in the city. Solar energy investment would create 42 percent more job-years per dollar than a comparable investment in fossil fuel.

State and regional energy initiatives
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority efficiency and clean energy incentive programs have, since 1975, reduced participant energy costs by more than $340 million per year; served over 60,000 low-income households, with average household energy bill reductions of $220 per year; and created and retained 3,700 jobs. In New York City NYSERDA has played an especially important role in growing the market for building energy efficiency services in the private sector. NYSERDA’s New York Energy Smart Program, for example, created roughly 5,500 jobs from 1999 to 2006, and is estimated to create 4,201 jobs from 2007 to 2016 in the building retrofit and energy efficiency industries. Other market drivers include the recently passed Green Jobs/Green New York bill that provides for one million residential retrofits statewide; energy efficiency portfolio standard,

which require 15 percent of New York State’s reduction in electricity use to come from efficiency; the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate carbon cap-and-trade initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ten percent by 2018 and raise money for efficiency programs across the state; and the renewable portfolio standard, which requires that 25 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2013.

Federal programs
The Weatherization Assistance Program helps low-income families permanently reduce their energy bills by improving their homes’ energy efficiency. Since 1976 the program has helped 6.2 million low-income families reduce their energy bills by 32 percent on average, or about $350 per year at current prices, while helping to create over 8,000 technical jobs in low-income communities. In New York City more than $91 million has been tentatively allocated to 15 weatherization providers under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In addition to the increased funds for weatherization the act also provided New York State with smart grid development funds, Energy Efficiency Community Block Grants, and the Energy Efficiency Appliance Rebate Program.

Private sector energy initiatives
While public policies are critical to help bring renewable and efficient energy systems to scale, the private sector will ultimately provide the bulk of the financing and infrastructure necessary to anchor New York City’s green economy. Policies like net metering, which allows private owners of renewable energy systems to sell excess energy they produce; loan guarantees, tax credits, and tax abatements; and other programs aimed at the private sector

can help build a stable market for renewable systems. In turn, these policies give confidence to new and emerging businesses that spring up to meet growing demand for clean energy

Renewable energy companies
Several companies are producing solar, wind, and tidal energy in New York City

Companies engaging in innovative, renewable energy efforts include:


Alteris Renewables, Inc., the largest integrator of renewable energy systems in the Northeast with over 2,000 solar photovoltaic and solar thermal energy installations, recently acquired the New York-based solar installation company, Renewable Power Systems. This expansion will allow Alteris Renewables and Renewable Power Systems to cooperatively bring better designs, more affordable solutions, improved customer service, and a wider array of financial options.


Bluewater Wind, the leading developer of offshore wind energy in the Northeast, recently partnered with the Long Island Power Authority to build a wind park located more than six nautical miles offshore that will provide energy for 42,000 Long Island homes. Although no policy or technical assessment has been done, this project indicates a huge potential for homes and businesses in New York City to draw energy from offshore wind parks in Long Island in the future.


Verdant Power’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project in New York City’s East River was launched in 2002 as a pilot for generating electricity from the river’s tidal energy. It is currently the world’s first grid-connected array of tidal turbines able to produce 80 megawatts of electricity for commercial uses. It completed its demonstration phase in 2008 and is now being built out to produce commercial power on a megawatt scale.


Documents

  New York City Green Jobs Roadmap Oct 2009 (1,165 kb)


Resources

Plan NYC (New York City, USA)