Whither NY’s Retrofit Plan?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Gay marriage is getting all the attention in the waning hours of the New York legislature this week. But a revolutionary program to subsidize home energy improvements is also hanging in the lurch right now (along with rent regulations and a mixed martial arts bill, apparently).

The bill’s description isn’t exactly helpful, but basically, the state would front homeowners the money to retrofit their homes, to be repaid over the next 15 years or so using the money saved on utility bills. The Syracuse Post-Standard explains:

First, the state would establish a reservoir of funds to make small loans to property owners for retrofit projects. Where would the money come from? From commercial lenders. Economists point to a mountain of untapped investment capital looking for promising places to land. Utility bills typically have low default rates, and the likely returns on this type of investment are at least competitive with bond markets. Experts predict up to $5 billion in private capital could be attracted by this.

Here’s the payback strategy: Each property owner’s utility would add a small monthly surcharge to the customer’s bill — sufficient to repay the retrofit loan within a reasonable period of time, but no bigger than the monthly value of energy saved by the improvements. The utility customer’s monthly energy bill would stay the same — the money saved on energy costs would go toward repaying the loan. When the loan is repaid, the property owner would start banking all the energy savings.

The paper called it “ingenious” in an op-ed. The Buffalo News was similarly effusive. It’s also a bipartisan effort; the Assembly version came from Democrat Kevin Cahill and Republican George D. Maziarz championed it in the Senate. But unless it somehow gets traction here in the final hours of the assembly, it too will die.

LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

payment methods

LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate