Senate passage sets a course for policies that will ensure energy efficiency measures
reach low income communities and communities of color

Albany, NY – In a 54-9 vote yesterday, lawmakers in the New York Senate overwhelmingly
passed legislation aimed at addressing the high cost of energy bills in New York by weatherizing
homes and creating jobs in the state’s most vulnerable communities. The “Energy Efficiency
Equity and Jobs Act” will require utilities to ensure that low income communities of color receive
an equitable share of energy efficiency funding and jobs. This bill would require energy
efficiency retrofits be deployed to low-income communities and communities of color. It will
require the state to allocate worker training funds for energy efficiency in these communities
statewide, and require the State energy agency to publicly track actual benefits of energy
efficiency retrofit work.

The bill also addresses some important barriers to energy efficiency by opening up energy
efficiency funding to remove lead, mold, and asbestos as part of an energy efficiency retrofit.
The bill was championed by WE ACT for Environmental Justice and supported by the New York
Energy Democracy Alliance. The groups will now work to ensure passage of a companion bill in
the Assembly.

“We thank the New York State Senate for passing this legislation and Senator Kevin Parker
(D-Brooklyn) for his leadership in sponsoring it,” said Yuwa Vosper, Environmental Policy &
Advocacy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Low-income communities and
communities of color bear disproportionate impacts from climate change, so it is critical that any
measures taken by the state to address the climate crisis, such as the energy efficiency
measures outlined in this bill, put the needs of these communities front and center. We trust that
the New York State Assembly will consider these factors, along with the harsh toll that the
pandemic and resulting economic downturn have taken on these communities, and vote to put
the bill in front of the Governor for his signature to help ensure that New York achieves its
emissions-reduction goals.”

Since New Yorkers in communities of color and/or low income communities pay a
disproportionately higher percentage of their income on energy, which is often their largest
expense after housing costs such as rent or a mortgage, many must decide between paying
their energy bill or purchasing necessities like food and medicine. In addition to the financial
burden, living in a home that is energy inefficient or potentially riddled with mold and lead harms
their health and well-being, especially as climate change exacerbates extreme weather
conditions. The Energy Efficiency Equity and Jobs Act ensures that all New Yorkers have
access to energy efficiency programs, regardless of race, income or zip code.

“PUSH Buffalo celebrates this important milestone victory with our allies at WE ACT and the NY
Energy Democracy Alliance. Targeted energy efficiency investments that directly benefit poor
and working class communities and communities of color across New York State are essential if
the state plans to meet the emission reduction goals and equity mandates of the Climate
Leadership and Community Protection Act. Based on our work in Buffalo, PUSH knows first
hand about the myriad co-benefits that can be achieved when old buildings are weatherized.
This legislation will help ensure that our homes and communities are healthier, living wage
green jobs are created for priority populations, and contracting opportunities scale up for
Minority and Women-Owned Businesses,” said Clarke Gocker, Director of Policy and Strategy
at PUSH Buffalo.

“Energy efficiency measures mean healthier homes, less economically stressed families, and
the participation in a clean energy future that we demand. The passage of the Energy Efficiency
Equity and Jobs Act directly impacts low-income communities of color and is the right step
toward a resilient future for the people of the Lower East Side,” said Damaris Reyes, Executive
Director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES).

“This bill is a welcome step toward correcting years of injustice in New York’s energy efficiency
arena,” said Amber Johnson, Organizing Director for the New York Energy Democracy Alliance.
“Low income communities and communities of color should benefit most from the state’s energy
efficiency funding, but instead, we have seen a statewide failure to connect these communities
with the energy efficiency funding and jobs that they deserve. It’s now up to the Governor and
the Assembly to finish the job and make sure the Energy Efficiency Equity and Jobs Act
becomes law.”

“We celebrate the passage of this bill in the Senate,” said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy
Project. “The fossil fuel industry has held people hostage for too long as captive customers for
polluting, wasteful, and climate disaster fuel. This bill opens the path to reducing the amount of
energy we use in our buildings to ease our bills, protect our health, honor environmental and
worker justice, and take action on climate.”

“More than 1 million households are behind on their energy bills, and these customers owe, on
average, more than $1,000 to their utilities. Clearly, New Yorkers are facing an energy
affordability crisis of epic proportions,” said Jessica Azulay, Executive Director of Alliance for a
Green Economy. “One key solution is to help struggling customers use less energy through
energy efficiency retrofits. These retrofits lower bills, improve living conditions and health, and
reduce the use of fossil fuels. Until now, state and utility spending on energy efficiency has been
totally inequitable, with those who need these retrofits the most facing insurmountable financial
and structural barriers. With the passage of the Energy Efficiency Equity and Jobs Act, we hope
to change this.”

“Citizens for Local Power advocates for energy equity and affordable access to clean energy
sources across New York State, “said Susan Gillespie, President of the group’s Board. “The
passage of this bill will benefit all New Yorkers with relief in energy bills, but also, and most
importantly, will specifically aid communities that have been disproportionately affected where
healthy, affordable homes are unavailable. What this bill delivers is a basic human right.”


WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization
whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or
low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental
health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York City and
Washington, D.C. Visit us at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The New York Energy Democracy Alliance is a statewide alliance of 27 community-based
organizations, grassroots groups, and policy experts working together to advance a just and
participatory transition to an energy system for New York State that is renewable, equitable,
accountable and local. Visit us at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.