On April 18th, 2010, the New York Newsday’s Earth Day Special that features a 2 page “Guide to Green Rebates” admitted “green incentives can be pretty confusing”. Why is this acceptable to say especially around Earth Day? There seems to be something else going on. Figuring out the underlying motives of this policy can help predict its long term viability.
First of all let’s start with the facts. It is simply false advertising to insinuate that the homeowner will get one Comprehensive Home Assessment from any BPI certified contractor they list and that each contractor can provide additional important information on resources such as loans programs. According to Mr. P, he did not know much about the state level energy incentives because they are given out by the utility companies who have a vested interest in maintaining confusion. They do not want customers to save and conserve, they do not want to give out rebates even though the homeowners have already been paying into this program for years through SBC, they would much rather take the SBC money and put it towards expanding power generation like LIPA did and encourage people to use, use, use so they can expand their profit margin.
It is also discouraging that there isn’t a demand to make this program more informative for the homeowners before they make the first payment. The promotional lines for this program almost seem like a flashy credit card offer that promises 1% back on every dollar spent. People are so enticed by the thought of getting something back that they are persuaded into paying more than what they hoped for or even have. This may be the difference between living in a semi-comfortable inefficient home or living in no home at all because of over spending and foreclosure. I wanted to believe that this program was everything it advertised to be but as with many environmental policies, they are very expensive and in our financial system, not very feasible unless the homeowner plans ahead and saves for it.
So why isn’t there a real push to change this policy to better accommodate the homeowner? I believe the answer lies in the statement previously made about politicians. NYSERDA was created in the 1970’s to help solve the energy crisis but has been transformed into an entity that promotes energy industry competition and the development of green jobs. Currently anyone can be a BPI certified contractor. That means anyone can jump right into the “green jobs” sector. These types of jobs are seen as sustainable jobs since they can only be performed domestically without risk of outsourcing. If anyone can jump right in then the green jobs sector will grow to a noticeable size and be recognition as an important economic force in our society.
The current administration supports the efforts for unregulated job creation even if it is at the expense of the people who voted them into office. The figure below shows a graph recently created by the Obama Administration promoting its success of job creation especially within the past few months.
Figure: Job Loss and Job Creation Diagram over a 2 year period
 NYSERDA: NYS Energy Plan 2002, Section 2-1 http://www.nyserda.org/sep/sepsection2-1.pdf
 Barack Obama: The Economy in Recovery http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/aprileconomicrecovery