The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is a public benefit corporation that has been helping residents upgrade homes in New York state for more than 10 years. Tasked with protecting the environment and creating clean energy jobs, NYSERDA is working to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with New York’s ambitious goal of meeting 45% of statewide electricity use through renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2015.
NYSERDA used $40 million in seed funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Neighborhood Program to create new, innovative financing mechanisms and bolster existing clean energy programs across the state, including: a $21.4 million sub-grant to New York City for energy efficiency financing measures in the commercial sector; $5 million to the Long Island Green Homes Consortium to improve outreach efforts and financing products; and $13.6 million to enhance the NYSERDA Home Performance with ENERGY STAR (HPwES) program and make low-interest financing products and incentives available through Green Jobs–Green New York (GJGNY) for homeowners across the state.
NYSERDA partnered with community-based organizations, municipal governments, state agencies, various energy utilities, energy specialists, and home performance contractors to boost the energy efficiency market throughout New York.
NSYERDA’s $21.4 million grant to New York City was administered through the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYCEEC), which teamed up with the New York City Housing Development Corporation, Fannie Mae, JP Morgan Chase, and Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation to provide innovative financing options in the Big Apple. Across Long Island and in Westchester County, towns and municipalities built off the existing framework of the state’s HPwES program, in place since 2001. Marketing, assessment, and implementation efforts were largely coordinated among the partnering towns and municipalities, which served as local portals to the state’s network of energy efficiency professionals and financing opportunities. Read more in the NYSERDA final report.
From community engagement programs to statewide commercial financing mechanisms, NYSERDA leveraged its grant funding to add innovations to the state’s existing energy efficiency programs.
- Residential Program Design: NYSERDA’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program through GJGNY provided free or reduced-cost energy assessments performed by a network of NYSERDA-approved, Building Performance Institute-accredited home performance contractors, along with low-interest financing options and incentives for energy efficiency measures for homeowners across the state. In addition, partnering towns, acting as host communities, synchronized their outreach efforts with NYSERDA’s offerings to drive demand for energy upgrades. For example, Energize New York directly supported homeowners through the upgrade process and drove demand through local leadership involvement in 15 towns in northern Westchester County.
- Marketing and Outreach: The Long Island Green Homes Consortium developed a regional marketing system through its partnering towns and organizations, which provided face-to-face meetings, direct mail, local events, and print and electronic promotional messaging. NYSERDA worked with a marketing firm to develop an array of awareness materials, such as brochures, fact sheets, a program website, case studies, and print and electronic advertisements. NYSERDA partnered with 18 community-based organizations statewide to encourage customer participation, boost awareness of energy efficiency and workforce development opportunities, and help process enrollments. Another eight small municipalities received additional NYSERDA support to enhance their marketing and outreach efforts with those of GJGNY, localizing their messages to appeal to their specific communities’ needs.
- Financing: For the GJGNY programs, NYSERDA created a revolving loan fund to offer unsecured loans or on-bill repayment for up to $25,000 for home upgrades with terms up to 15 years. Through GJGNY, homeowners could also receive a free or reduced-cost energy assessment, depending upon the homeowner’s income. All NYSERDA loan products were originated by Energy Finance Solutions, a non-profit organization that reviews loan applications, closes loans, disburses proceeds, and submits loans to NYSERDA for reimbursement into the revolving loan fund. In January 2012, NYSERDA launched On-Bill Recovery, allowing homeowners to repay energy efficiency improvements through a charge on their utility bill. In addition to low-interest financing, NYSERDA offers a High Efficiency Measure Incentive up to 10% of the cost of eligible measures and discounts up to 50% of the cost of eligible measures for low-income homeowners. The NYCEEC program had three financing products: energy-efficient mortgages, where NYCEEC provided credit enhancement to lenders to incentivize them to finance upgrades in commercial or multifamily buildings; energy services agreements with commercial building owners, in which NYCEEC provided credit enhancement or additional debt to the deal; and loans directly to building owners for equipment or upgrade financing, which could be used as credit enhancements to lenders.
- Workforce Development: Through GJGNY, NYSERDA supported workforce development, internships, and apprenticeships to energy efficiency professionals. NYSERDA teamed up with the Building Performance Contractors Association of New York to host a series of roundtable meetings across the state to share best practices and strengthen relationships. NYSERDA partnered with Efficiency First and created and Industry Working Group that meets monthly to discuss opportunities, challenges, and mitigation strategies for delivering GJGNY. Several participating municipalities launched on-the-job training initiatives for high school, college, and post-college students. NYCEEC engaged with the established energy efficiency workforce and provided technical guidelines and assistance, including requiring assessors to become NYSERDA Multifamily Performance partners and providing access to job training through its network.
- Commercial Program Design: NYCEEC, which provided clean energy financial products to commercial property owners, focused on data analysis to support the business case for energy efficiency. NYCEEC partnered with numerous financial and housing groups and used case studies to highlight successful commercial upgrades and drive demand for energy upgrades.
Through an array of approaches, NYSERDA’s energy efficiency programs demonstrated which efforts were likely to be most impactful going forward. Lessons learned include the following:
- Link efforts to form a cohesive energy efficiency network. New York’s energy efficiency programs collaborated well on marketing; however, other aspects such as incentive offerings from various entities such as utilities competed with one another and created confusion for participatants.
- Strive for inclusion with financial offerings. NYSERDA offered both an unsecured loan and on-bill repayment with alternative approval processes to enable greater participation. Still, some New York households were excluded from accessing these programs, which caused NYSERDA to reconsider ways to serve these populations.
- Track program data to demonstrate value. For NYCEEC, diligent data tracking proved essential in supporting its central message that energy efficiency is a wise investment, which in turn drove demand for its financing products.
- Monitor savings measures for effectiveness. NYSERDA used the total resource cost (TRC) measure to determine eligible measures based on cost-effectiveness. When natural gas prices reached record lows, this TRC requirement meant a number of energy upgrades were not considered cost-effective by homeowners. NYSERDA is considering a shift from TRC to a projected energy savings measure.
The program developed a number of sustainable aspects to continue supporting New Yorkers’ energy upgrade activities, including:
- NYSERDA’s HPwES program will continue to provide energy efficiency services to homeowners in New York state, including free or reduced-cost energy assessments, low-interest financing options, and incentives for approved measures.
- NYCEEC will continue to expand upon its existing clean energy financing options and seek to incentivize a movement toward clean energy in New York City.
- Lessons learned from the Town of Bedford will be employed in the launch of Energize New York Residential, Energize New York Commercial, and Energize New York Finance. With ongoing support from NYSERDA, these programs will partner with counties and municipalities across the state to improve energy efficiency and deploy renewable energy.
- Through the end of the grant period, NYCEEC’s project pipeline included commitment of $8.4 million in a loan loss reserve and revolving loan fund leveraging a total investment of $34.2 million for retrofitting 16 buildings, including more than 1,600 units of multi-family housing and 1.3 million square feet of commercial space.
- Final Technical Report
- Summary of Reported Data
- Data Dashboard
- NYSERDA Program Planning Status and Evaluation Reports