In Wednesday’s State of the State Address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his goal to accelerate the state’s clean tech economy. Central to that strategy is the creation of a $1 billion New York “Greenbank,” a fund that would match public funds with money from the private sector to spark investment in clean energy and other green technologies.
In addition to the Greenbank, Gov. Cuomo announced other initiatives including a plan to increase solar installations for homes and businesses over the next 10 years; an expansion of the state’s electric vehicle (EV) charging stations; and the appointment of a statewide “energy czar.” With the aftermath of Sandy still a searing recent memory, Cuomo’s suggested policies show that government and business have got to work together to solve the long term problems climate change poses.
Details on how New York’s state government will financially support the Greenbank are lacking. Nevertheless, environmental organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have applauded the plan. Funds from the bank would be matched with private sector money to offer low cost and lower risk financing for energy efficiency and clean energy projects. New York’s greenbank would be the second in the country; Connecticut launched its version of a greenbank in 2011. As Forbes’ Todd Woody pointed out yesterday, such a finance mechanism for green technology could soon pit New York as a strong rival to California on the green technology front.
Gov. Cuomo also suggested ramping up New York’s solar jobs program at $150 million annually for 10 years. The plan would allow thousands of homeowners and businesses to install solar on their roofs and therefore save money on electricity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Another initiative that would tackle emissions is the Charge New York program, an investment in an electric car network that would reduce the state’s residents reliance on fossil fuels. According to the NRDC, the plan could lead to as many as 3,000 public and workplace charging stations.
Finally, Gov. Cuomo announced the appointment of Richard Kauffman, a senior advisor to Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, as the state’s “energy czar.” Prior to joining the DOE, Kauffman was CEO of Good Energies, a private equity fund that invests in the energy industry.
As some observers have noted, the real test is whether New York state will actually fund these programs. But so far Gov Cuomo’s administration has scored high marks for other reforms his administration imposed in the two years since he took office. And as it stands this is amongst the most aggressive statewide energy campaign any U.S. state has taken.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
Image credit: Wikipedia (Pat Arnow)