Cuomo signs a green-energy law to ‘spin the meter backwards’

October 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

ALBANY—The state wants to bring more advanced alternative energy technology into homes under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week.

The Green Jobs-Green New York program provides low-cost loans to pay the upfront costs of installing alternative energy sources in homes and buildings. Program applicants receive free or reduced-price energy audits to determine the most cost-effective green energy technologies for their home or business. They can then take out small low-cost loans from the state that they pay back through their utility bill.

Homeowners could receive up to $25,000 in loans that they then back over five to fifteen years at a 3.5 percent interest rate. The loans are administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The technologies encourage homeowners to “spin the meter backwards,” as one clean-energy advocate put it, or produce enough power that they can sell the excess back to the grid.

The new measure is a significant expansion of the state’s efforts to increase green technology for homeowners, small businesses and nonprofits. Where earlier efforts largely focused on more modest methods of bringing down energy costs like weather stripping and insulation, the new law is designed to expand the use of more significant technologies like solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, hydro-electric generators and fuel cells. All of those alternative energy sources have significant up-front costs that the new program aims to reduce.

“It will open up the door to a lot of homeowners,” said Conor Bambrick, air and energy director at Environmental Advocates, a statewide environmental advocacy organization. “They’re scared off by the sticker shock of it.”

The new effort will be funded by $24.3 million in bonds issued by NYSERDA in August. That money will be used to support a number of initiatives through the Green Jobs-Green New York program, which was designed to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions while creating opportunities for green jobs.

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