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State Senate OKs measure targeting jobs, energy bills

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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A green-energy bill expected to create between 5,000 and 16,000 jobs and weatherize 1 million homes and businesses statewide passed late Thursday in the state Senate, at the tail end of a more than five-hour session.


The Assembly version of the Green Jobs/Green NY bill, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, passed unanimously this summer. It received bipartisan Senate support Thursday, passing 52-8.


"By passing the Green Jobs/Green New York Act today with bipartisan support we have taken an important step toward improving our economy and helping our environment," Mr. Aubertine said in a written statement. "It's a win-win for New York State, especially Upstate New York where a well-trained workforce will be in demand to keep the heat in and energy bills down every winter."


The program created by the bill will use money collected from the sale of carbon emission credits to set up a loan fund for residents and businesses to make their homes and buildings more energy-efficient.


Mr. Aubertine said during debate on the Senate floor Thursday that the funds also can be used by farmers, as long as they meet eligibility requirements.


"This program will enable homeowners and businesses to take charge of their energy bills and reduce their costs, all while creating a market for a new and well-trained workforce," Mr. Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, said in a news release. "Energy conservation is a much talked about but difficult strategy to implement."


More than $1 billion could be saved in energy costs annually, according to the bill's Republican co-sponsor, Sen. Thomas P. Morahan, Rockland.


The program is projected to raise $112 million from the sale of carbon credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will use a portion of those funds to administer job-training programs that teach workers how to weatherize homes.


Carbon credits are sold to industries that need to offset the amount of carbon that they release into the air.


"This money will be used as seed money to leverage additional federal funding along with private investment," said Mr. Aubertine, chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.


NYSERDA also is expected to establish a revolving loan program that provides $13,000 per residential customer to retrofit a home and as much as $26,000 to retrofit each qualifying business.


Any savings shown on energy bills then will be split between the borrower and the state retrofit fund until the loan is paid off. If the home is sold before the loan is paid off, the new homeowner will assume the agreement.


Mr. Aubertine said loans to homeowners and the jobs created will be targeted toward economically distressed areas and distributed proportionally throughout the state.

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