NY State Releases Climate Action Plan, Public Comment Period Open

November 15, 2010

Early this month, outgoing Governor Paterson released the New York State Climate Action Plan.   This plan moves forward on the 2009 Executive Order requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2050 and established a Climate Action Council to determine how to meet the goal.   The Council will continue to further refine these strategy proposals in 2011.  The public can comment on the plan until February 7, 2011. As pointed out in the New York Times article about the report,  there has been controversy in the last few months of the administration’s tenure amidst incredible budget shortfalls related to funding cuts and the dismissal of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s commissioner, and use of state funds intended to finance emission reduction programs for other purposes.  The Gotham Gazette has done a good job of summarizing the situation at the DEC. This is all relevant as these proposals could very well become law one day – as the City is using the Green Codes Task Force report to draft policy, the State’s self-imposed requirement to reduce emissions will most definitely result in code changes for buildings.  Of particular import to GreenHomeNYC’s readership is Chapter 6: Residential, Commercial/ Institutional Mitigation.  The most relevant recommendations are described after the jump. Statutory and Regulatory policies: Building Codes, Appliance Standards, and Enforcement (RCI-7) – Encourages New York to aggressively update and enforce the State Energy Code; Providing municipalities with the choice of adopting a State-set stretch code, as recommended in the 2009 State Energy Plan, and establishing a flexible code compliance framework will further reduce local GHG emissions. Building Commissioning, Benchmarking, and Upgrades (RCI-8) – Reducing existing buildings’ operating costs and achieving energy savings through regular energy benchmarking, audits and commissioning activities and installing cost-effective energy efficiency measures.  This is very similar to the recent changes to the City’s energy code: public reporting of benchmarking scores of private buildings over 50,000 square feet, required energy audits every 10 years, and commissioning of new buildings.  Further, new one- to four-family home should receive a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rating and existing one- to four-family home sold in the State should receive a HERS rating from a qualified rater and disclose it to all prospective buyers. Voluntary policies/ Incentives: Energy Efficiency Incentives (RCI-2) – Uses a whole-building, integrated analysis approach to identify high-performance efficiency measures that could be installed in existing and new buildings. Customer-Sited Renewable Energy Incentives for On-Site Renewable Energy (RCI-3).  These incentives include solar electric, solar thermal, and bioenergy. Supporting policies: Workforce Training and Development (RCI-6) – Incentives Rate Restructuring and Flexible Metering (RCI-10) – Includes time-of-use pricing, net metering, smart meters, assessments and surveys, smart meter cost-benefit analysis, submetering, and carbon impacts and demand response incentive efforts. Efficiency and Clean Energy Fund (RCI-1) and Tax Structure and Private Financing (RCI-4) – Review the current tax structure and financing programs and their impact on carbon reduction activities. We’ll all find out over the next year how this plan will transition into the incoming Cuomo administration’s clean energy strategy.