NYSERDA and NYSDPS Hold Low Income Forum On Energy 2020 Virtual Event

State and Community Initiatives Address Affordability and Environmental Impacts Faced by New York’s Vulnerable Residents

October 27, 2020

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) today kicked-off the four-day Low-Income Forum on Energy (LIFE) 2020 Virtual Event to address issues related to energy affordability and access to clean energy solutions for all New Yorkers. The event will be held virtually live from Tuesday, October 27 through Friday, October 30, with on demand content and resources available for event registrants through the end of 2020. LIFE supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's nation-leading climate goals outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which mandates that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments be directed to disadvantaged communities.

Chair of the New York State Public Service Commission John B. Rhodes said, “As the state transitions to a carbon-neutral economy under the leadership of Governor Cuomo and our nation-leading goals codified in the CLCPA, it is crucial to make sure no New Yorker is left behind, especially those most adversely impacted by climate change. The LIFE event presents an opportunity for the Public Service Commission, NYSERDA and our statewide partners to come together to meet the energy needs and challenges faced by our state’s most vulnerable.”

NYSERDA Acting President and CEO, Doreen M. Harris said, “As climate change advances, low-income New Yorkers and those living in disadvantaged communities will continue to be impacted most disproportionately. The LIFE initiative and this year’s event highlight the many ways that New York, under Governor Cuomo, is developing solutions and pathways for some of our most vulnerable residents to lower their energy costs and improve the comfort and air quality within their homes and communities as part of the state’s clean energy transition.”

LIFE, now in its 22nd year, brings together organizations and individuals committed to addressing the energy-related challenges and opportunities facing low-income New Yorkers and is the nation’s longest-running statewide discussion on the energy needs of low-income communities. The LIFE Virtual Event will feature more than 15 live online sessions and over 30 on demand discussion and training sessions for human service providers, contractors, community-based organizations, state agencies, advocates and attorneys. Attendees will gain expertise on energy assistance programs, low-income energy policy, emerging issues, and best practices.

Featured speakers include:

  • Amanda Lefton, New York State’s First Assistant Secretary for Energy and the Environment
  • John Rhodes, Chair of the NYS Public Service Commission, and
  • Doreen M. Harris, Acting President and CEO of NYSERDA.

For more information on this year’s event and to register, please click hereLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

Low-to-moderate-income households are disproportionately impacted by energy costs, with many experiencing an annual energy burden exceeding 20 percent of their household income. In New York, 3.2 million households, or 40 percent of residents, qualify as low-to-moderate income, earning 80 percent or less of their area’s median income. Low-income residents will benefit from the state’s transformation to a carbon-neutral economy under New York’s nation-leading goals set forth in the CLCPA and the $5 billion Clean Energy Fund which targets market-based incentives that will generate investments in clean and affordable energy to help connect the state’s most vulnerable residents to clean energy programs.

Today’s announcement supports ongoing state initiatives to ensure that all New Yorkers, including those with low-to-moderate income or in disadvantaged communities, have access to clean and cost-effective energy. Other initiatives include:

  • In July, Governor Cuomo announced a nearly $1 billion statewide framework and implementation plan between NYSERDA and the state’s investor-owned utilities that will bring the benefits of clean energy solutions to more than 350,000 low-to-moderate income households and more than double the number of households receiving energy efficiency services.
  • In June, NYSERDA and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) launched new and advanced initiatives to help underserved New Yorkers access the benefits of solar, representing the first step in implementing New York’s Solar Energy Equity Framework.
  • In May, the New York Public Service Commission approved a $573 million expansion of the NY-Sun Program including a total of $200 million projected to help activities focused on low-and moderate-income New Yorkers, affordable housing, environmental justice and disadvantaged communities.
  • Governor Cuomo has also established a $175 million Workforce Development initiative to create a workforce pipeline that will support the needs of rapidly expanding industries including clean energy and advanced technologies.

The Initiative prioritize training for priority populations including veterans, Native Americans, individuals with disabilities, low income individuals, displaced power plant workers, the formerly incarcerated, and New Yorkers residing in environmental justice and disadvantaged communities.

LIFE was established by the NYS Public Service Commission and NYSERDA 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. The work of the LIFE is ongoing throughout the year and NYSERDA and DPS will continue working with private and public stakeholders to develop ongoing strategies for how the program can better serve low-income communities, using knowledge and strategies learned during this year’s virtual event. Visit the NYSERDA website for more information.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

Governor Cuomo'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 achieving its mandated goal of a zero-emissions 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 ramp-up of clean energy including a $3.9 billion investment in 67 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector, a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, 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 benefit disadvantaged communities, and advancing progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 TBtus.

About the New York State Public Service Commission

The primary mission of the New York State Department of Public Service is to ensure affordable, safe, secure, and reliable access to electric, gas, steam, telecommunications, and water services for New York State’s residential and business consumers, while protecting the natural environment. The Department also seeks to stimulate effective competitive markets that benefit New York consumers through strategic investments, as well as product and service innovations. To learn more about NYSPSC, visit dps.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, or Facebook.


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 TwitterLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., FacebookLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., YouTubeLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., or InstagramLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page..

About LIFE

The Low-Income Forum on Energy (LIFE) is a unique statewide dialogue that brings together organizations and individuals committed to addressing the challenges and opportunities facing low-income New Yorkers as they seek safe, affordable and reliable energy. Supported by the New York State Public Service Commission and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), LIFE encourages an interactive exchange of information and collaboration among the programs and resources that assist low-income energy consumers.

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