Announces Energy Affordability Guarantee, a First-in-the-Nation Pilot Program to Ensure Participating New Yorkers Never Pay More than Six Percent of Their Incomes on Electricity

January 10, 2023

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced investments in energy affordability, clean and efficient buildings, clean air, and clean water, as part of the 2023 State of the State. The proposal will create the Energy Affordability Guarantee to ensure participating New Yorkers never pay more than six percent of their incomes on electricity. Governor Hochul also announced $200 million in relief for utility bills for up to 800,000 New York households earning under $75,000 a year that are not currently eligible for the State's current utility discount program. Additionally, Governor Hochul announced an ambitious package of building decarbonization initiatives, including for zero-emission new construction and the phase out of the sale of new fossil fuel heating equipment. This announcement also includes $500 million in clean water funding, coupled with the creation of Community Assistance Teams to help disadvantaged communities access financial assistance.

"New York State is leading by example and setting in motion a bold agenda to promote energy affordability, reduce emissions, and invest in clean air and water," Governor Hochul said. "The first-in-the-nation Energy Affordability Guarantee will help hardworking families as we implement the nation's most ambitious climate plans and chart a path to a cleaner, healthier New York for future generations."

Addressing Energy Affordability

In addition to advancing an economywide Cap-and-Invest-Program that supports universal rebates to consumers, Governor Hochul is proposing a series of policies to insulate our most vulnerable households from rising energy prices while advancing the transition to lower emissions. Actions include:

  • Providing $200 million in relief for high electric bills. New York State will provide a credit to approximately 800,000 households that make under $75,000 to help pay burdensome electric bills.
  • Pairing affordability support with modernizing low-income homes through EmPower Plus Pilot. EmPower Plus will help 20,000 low-income families improve their homes by adding insulation, upgrading to energy efficient appliances, and switching from polluting fossil fuel heating to clean, efficient electric alternatives. Homes that qualify through the EmPower Plus program are also eligible for the Energy Affordability Guarantee when they fully electrify. This first-in-the-nation pilot program will ensure participating families never pay more than six percent of their incomes on electricity. The current EmPower program served more than 14,000 homes in 2022 and EmPower Plus is expected to reach over 20,000 households within the next year through a combination of weatherization and electrification measures, drastically cutting energy use as well as delivering more than 17,000 metric tons of averted emissions - thanks to an infusion of $200 million in new State support.
  • Directing the Low-Income Energy Task Force, composed of State agencies that administer energy affordability programs, to undertake immediate efforts to improve the alignment of existing programs and streamline administrative processes to increase access to these services and the impact of public dollars.

Investing in Clean Air and Reducing Emissions

To improve air quality and reduce emissions from various sectors, Governor Hochul is:

  • Calling for zero-emission new construction, with no on-site fossil fuel combustion by 2025 for smaller buildings, and by 2028 for larger buildings.
  • Proposing New York take a nation-leading stand to prohibit the sale of any new fossil fuel heating equipment by 2030 for smaller buildings and 2035 for larger buildings, along with related fossil fuel systems for all buildings.
  • Advancing a system to assign letter grades to larger buildings statewide based on their energy usage to help building managers make informed choices to cut electricity bills and emissions.
  • Building on New York's nation-leading investments in transportation electrification by directing the Department of Public Service (DPS) to identify and remove the barriers to deploying charging infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles efficiently and timely.
  • Directing the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) to source all facilities' electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030 by generating its own electricity and prioritizing other green resources such as community solar or purchasing renewable energy from other local facilities.Creating an Office of Just Transition to centralize and direct State planning for a just transition; New York will be the first to advance a structure dedicated to the achievement of an economywide just transition for affected workers and communities that looks beyond the transition from coal and addresses the shift away from other fossil fuels.

Investing in Clean Water

Governor Hochul will invest $500 million in clean water funding to support water quality and infrastructure projects and protect public health. To leverage these investments and ensure ongoing coordination with local governments, Governor Hochul will develop Community Assistance Teams, which will provide proactive outreach to small, rural, and disadvantaged communities and help them access financial assistance to address their clean water infrastructure needs.

Building on the State's previous actions to combat emerging contaminants like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Governor Hochul will establish a program offering financial assistance to municipalities to investigate sources of contamination and remediate contaminated sites over the next five years. This new program will provide the resources New York communities need to remove these chemicals from our environment and protect clean water.

Reduce Waste and Invest in Local Recycling Programs

Solid waste is the fourth-largest contributor to climate-altering greenhouse gases. To protect communities and alleviate the burden on municipalities and taxpayers, Governor Hochul will propose the Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act, which shifts the responsibility of recycling to the producer and away from taxpayers. New York State will develop a new, more efficient waste reduction strategy that will increase recycling rates, save local governments money, create jobs, and protect the environment. The program will require that New York meet material-specific recycling rates, create binding post-consumer recycled content rates, and help ensure recycling is convenient for consumers.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Doreen M. Harris said, "We know the high energy costs faced by consumers today are being felt throughout all New York communities. As such, Governor Hochul has proposed a bold agenda that focuses on securing energy affordability with a particular focus on those New Yorkers who most need the additional support whether through bill relief or making their homes more energy efficient. Going hand in hand with this support is addressing the primary cause of our greenhouse gas emissions, the state's building stock, and seeking to construct new zero emissions buildings within the next decade to provide healthier and more comfortable living and working spaces. As we address these issues head on, we know that to be successful our foundation must be built upon all New Yorkers benefiting equitably in the transition to a green economy."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Governor Hochul's State of the State proposals and sustained investments are delivering the climate and environmental action our state and nation need. This comprehensive approach will bolster ongoing efforts to protect water and air quality, tackle climate change, and realize the economic potential of a clean energy future. DEC is proud to partner with experts in the public and private sectors to achieve the Governor's goal to make New York cleaner, healthier, more sustainable, and more affordable for New Yorkers."

Rory M. Christian, Chair of the Public Service Commission, said, "For the second year in a row, Governor Hochul is providing unprecedented financial relief to utility ratepayers. The Department is ready and eager to implement her vision for expanded utility discounts and to learn from piloting a first-in-the-nation Energy Affordability Guarantee for participating low-income households. As we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 economic disruption and as global commodity price volatility adds to New Yorkers' household energy burden, the Governor's new and innovative energy affordability initiatives are coming at exactly the right time."

New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "New York State Parks are among our greatest environmental legacies in New York State, and we are committed to making our park system a model of sustainability. Governor Hochul's leadership in expanding renewable energy is putting New York State Parks at the forefront of innovative natural resource protection, while creating more jobs in the years to come."

New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Maureen A. Coleman said, "Governor Hochul understands that clean water infrastructure supports stronger, healthier communities and ecosystems, and promotes economic development. Under Governor Hochul's leadership, New York continues to provide unprecedented financial assistance to help communities improve water quality. Providing targeted technical assistance is crucial to help communities most in need access the significant state and federal funding that is available. EFC looks forward to collaborating with our partners in government to implement this forward-thinking initiative and help communities undertake vital drinking water and sewer upgrades, mitigate impacts from climate change, and address environmental, public health, and quality of life concerns."