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New York Advocacy Update
Right before the end of this year’s legislative session, New York lawmakers passed two policy initiatives that will greatly help cut energy costs and reduce rainwater runoff and greenhouse gas pollution. Governor David Paterson has pledged to sign them into law. Both bills have been priorities for NRDC and E2.

The first, a green roofs tax incentive bill (S. 7553 / A. 11226), would give New York City building owners a tax credit for the installation of vegetation on their rooftops. The compensation will be equivalent to roughly $4.50 per square foot of green roof space, or about a quarter of the cost typically associated with a green roof’s materials, labor, installation and design. Green roofs could potentially save $5 million in cooling costs, reduce energy use and greenhouse gases, and prevent stormwater overflow that would otherwise overwhelm sewage treatment facilities and pollute city waterways. This initiative would also jumpstart the creation of green collar jobs. (See press release.)

The second policy initiative (S. 8481 / A. 11582) will significantly expand the state’s net metering law, which allows electricity customers with qualified renewable energy systems to sell excess energy back to their local utilities. The changes allow for increases in the size of eligible solar photovoltaic systems to 25 kilowatts (KW) for residential customers, and up to two megawatts (MW), or the customer’s peak load, for commercial customers. The changes for wind power allow for non-residential wind power generators to net meter up to the lesser of their peak load or two MW. It also increases the maximum size of wind facilities for farm operations from 125 KW to 500 KW. In addition, the size of eligible bio-mass electricity generating systems on farms will be increased from 400 KW to 500 KW. The expansion of net metering paves the way for greater independence and cost-savings for New York’s energy consumers, and promotes non-polluting, alternative energy resources. For an insider take on this win from NRDC New York Legislative Director Rich Schrader, go to NRDC’s Switchboard blog.

Net metering was one of E2’s main priorities during this year’s Albany advocacy trip. E2 is delighted with its outcome and the progress made on other issues such as electronic waste recycling and vehicle tire efficiency. Although bills on electronic waste recycling and tire efficiency ultimately got struck down, our advocacy helped raise the visibility of the issues with legislators and their staff, and set the stage for further efforts next session.

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