New York State Kicks Off Low-Income Forum on Energy Conference

State-Hosted Conference Highlights Comprehensive Energy Affordability Initiatives under Governor Cuomo's REV Strategy

May 25, 2016

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's innovative Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, REV, was the centerpiece of New York's biennial Low-Income Forum on Energy (LIFE) Conference today. REV is Governor Cuomo's strategy to build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for New Yorkers. In response to consumer demand, REV is actively spurring clean energy innovation and improving consumer choice and affordability, leaving no one behind in the transition to a clean economy. The LIFE Conference brings together organizations and individuals committed to addressing energy-related challenges and opportunities facing low-income New Yorkers.

Often among those most seriously impacted by climate change and severe weather events, low- to moderate-income New Yorkers are motivated to save money and improve the environment while leaving a legacy of cleaner energy for the next generation. To meet the needs and goals of this population--representing approximately 30 percent of all New Yorkers--the state is implementing a variety of approaches to help increase the adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency by low-income communities by addressing barriers such as limited access to capital. New efforts featured at the LIFE Conference include the Energy Affordability Policy, which will provide nearly two million low-income New Yorkers with $248 million in direct cost relief each year. The policy, approved last Thursday by the state Public Service Commission, will limit energy costs for low-income New Yorkers to no more than six percent of household income--half of what many New Yorkers are currently paying.

Featured speakers at the conference included Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York Richard Kauffman, the New York State Energy Research and Authority (NYSERDA) President and CEO John B. Rhodes, and the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) Chief Consumer Advocate Michael Corso. The LIFE Conference was organized by DPS and NYSERDA and is being held in Albany, N.Y. May 25 and 26.

"Disadvantaged New Yorkers know first-hand the damage being done to our environment and our health because of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and severe weather events," said Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance, New York. "We have made much progress in ensuring clean energy and energy efficiency reach all New Yorkers and by providing help with energy bills, but we can and must do more and I'm pleased under Governor Cuomo's REV initiative, we are showing progress in providing much needed relief and support."

"We must address the fact that millions of New Yorkers struggle every month to pay their electric, gas or heating bills," said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman. "Through a wide range of REV initiatives, New York can achieve lower energy bills for all customers, at all income levels. But direct assistance is needed for these low-income households where energy costs can account for 15 percent or more of a family's income."

"The LIFE Forum is critical to advancing our essential work to make energy more affordable for low-income New Yorkers," said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, NYSERDA and our statewide partners are making sure we deliver a clean, affordable and resilient energy system for all New Yorkers, not leaving anyone behind."

The Governor's newly announced Clean Energy Fund investments will build on the success of New York's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs aimed at low-to-moderate income energy users. EmPower NY provides energy efficiency improvements for low-income homeowners. The program has cut energy use by up to 25 percent in low-income homes and saved customers an average of $500 annually. To complement the no- and low-cost efficiency services provided by EmPower and other NYSERDA programs, the state is advancing an innovative design competition to bring deep energy retrofits to the affordable housing sector-which totals 1.7 million units statewide- at scale. Deep energy retrofits are those intended to cut energy use by 70 percent or more.

New York is also taking steps to ensure renewable energy is accessible to all New Yorkers. NYSERDA'S Affordable Solar program doubles incentives to make it easier for low-income New Yorkers to go solar, while the Shared Renewables program allows renters to realize the benefits of clean, affordable power.

The state is working closely with subsidized and public housing authorities to increase clean energy and efficiency, and exploring opportunities among state agencies to realize joint energy and health benefits of improved housing quality.

Additionally, the state has announced investments to improve the energy efficiency of existing and new multifamily affordable housing.

Altogether, in the first three years of the Clean Energy Fund, NYSERDA will commit $234 million to initiatives targeting low-to-moderate income individuals.

Now in its 18th year, the LIFE Conference is the nation's longest-running statewide dialogue on the energy needs of low-income customers. Through interactive and innovative sessions, advocates and providers of low-income services learn about updates in the state's growing portfolio of energy assistance programs, low-income energy policy, emerging energy issues, innovative pilot programs in low-income communities, consumer protections and best practices. The conference attracted more than 325 attendees.

LIFE was established by DPS to help address the issues confronting low-income consumers in New York's evolving energy landscape. LIFE hosts the statewide conference and a series of regional meetings across New York State during alternate years. Visit www.nyserda.ny.gov/LIFE for more information.

About NYSERDA

NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.

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