Home Energy Costs
Last month I joined my Senate Democratic colleagues in releasing a comprehensive energy plan to address both the short- and long-term impacts of soaring energy costs. I was disappointed that the Senate Republicans refused to consider our proposals during the two special legislative sessions convened in August. With winter fast approaching, we need to take action before the new session begins in January. Thus, my conference has called upon Majority Leader Dean Skelos to convene an emergency session to provide energy relief to New Yorkers.
The Senate Democrats’ 21st Century Energy Policy for New York package was developed in response to recent skyrocketing home energy costs and is designed to help alleviate financial burdens on both homeowners and renters, and provide relief to over 2 million New York families. Key components of the plan include:
- Expansion of the existing Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by doubling the average benefit for the 2008-09 winter heating season for families making up to $45,000 per year, who are expected to face double the heating costs and expanding benefits for renters as well as homeowners;
- A large-scale investment in home weatherization improvements that can dramatically decrease energy usage and decrease carbon emissions can save families up to 40 percent on energy costs, and create tens of thousands of new green jobs.
- Creation of a new Middle-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (MIHEAP) to provide emergency heating bill assistance to middle-class families making up to $85,000 per year;
State leaders in neighboring Connecticut recently responded to their energy concerns in a special session that approved $79 million in energy assistance for consumers, public schools and nonprofit organizations by a unanimous, bipartisan vote. New York needs to follow suit.
It is also critical that any energy relief plan go beyond tax credits and incentives, and prioritize energy usage reduction. That is why the weatherization program is such an essential part of our proposal. While we need to address the very real short-term financial hardship that is caused by rising energy costs, in the long-term, everyone will benefit from the creation of more energy efficient housing stock.