During his State of the State address on January 9, 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo discussed a number of important topics regarding the development of cleantech projects in the state. First, Governor Cuomo announced his intention to develop a $1 billion green bank in order to leverage public dollars with private-sector matching funds for cleantech projects within the state. In my most recent post regarding Lisa Jackson’s resignation, I discussed the use of green banks by one of Lisa Jackson’s potential successors—Daniel Esty—who oversaw the development of a similar type of bank in Connecticut. The governor did not identify in his address how the public funds for the green bank would be raised, which certainly could raise questions regarding its long-term implementation, but the most likely source would be from the state’s energy efficiency or renewable portfolio standards. Given the size of New York’s economy in comparison to Connecticut, as well its enviable stance of being the host of Wall Street, the green bank structure could be a potential boon for the state.
Second, Governor Cuomo announced that he would be appointing Richard Kaufmann to a cabinet-level position focused on the state’s energy program, including leading the effort associated with the development of the green bank. Mr. Kauffman is a veteran of the energy and financial sectors, having served in Washington and the New York financial markets, and most recently, having acted as a senior advisor to Secretary Steven Chu in the U.S. Department of Energy. The governor’s decision to hire Mr. Kauffman is a clear sign that he envisions New York as a potential long-term leader in the use and development of clean energy.
Third, Governor Cuomo announced an expansion of the NY-Sun solar jobs program, which was previously discussed by my colleague Joe Endres. The governor’s expansion would call for an additional $150 million annually through 2023 to benefit solar panel installation on both a commercial and residential basis. This expansion further demonstrates the governor’s aggressive stance regarding solar energy development in the state and, perhaps, his skepticism regarding the commitment of public utilities to cleaner energy production.
Finally, the governor announced a number of other smaller initiatives to help further innovation and/or the use of clean technology in New York. A few of the more notable examples of these items include the following:
- The development of 3,000 electric vehicle charging stations across New York over the next five years
- The development of 10 tax-free, high-tech incubator zones
- The development of a $50 million venture capital fund to support the development of new companies within the state
On these matters too, the speech was short of funding specifics.
Michael Hecker is a senior associate in the Environment & Energy Practice at Hodgson Russ LLP. You can reach him at email@example.com.