More than 160 organizations, businesses, and religious groups sign letter opposing “Multiple Intervenors” petition to defund clean energy programs

MAY 18, 2020    

 Contact: Jessica Azulay  (315) 480-1515 


More than 160 grassroots organizations, businesses, and religious groups are urging utility regulators not to grant a recent request made by large business entities to raid New York state’s clean energy programs to reduce energy bills.


In a letter filed today with the New York Public Service Commission, 163 organizations go on record to strongly oppose an April 10 petition by an “unincorporated association” of large unnamed energy consumers calling themselves “Multiple Intervenors,” who asked the Public Service Commission to stop collecting money for state renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. “Multiple Intervenors,” whose membership list is not public, also proposed to take money NYSERDA has banked for clean energy programs and use it to reduce energy bills. 


“It is not in the public interest to defund renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, which New York needs to accelerate in order to save lives and which more than 140,000 people depend on for work in this state,” reads today’s letter, which is signed by a broad spectrum of civil society organizations and businesses from all over New York state.


The more than 160 organizations filing in opposition of “Multiple Intervenors” say that they support other, more reasonable methods to achieve utility bill reductions, and say the unnamed members of “Multiple Intervenors” of are shielding themselves from public scrutiny while using the COVID-19 crisis to further their long-held agenda of defunding public renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. They urge the Commission to require “Multiple Intervenors” to reveal which businesses are behind their petition by publishing a list of members or decision makers of the “unincorporated association.”


Jessica Azulay, Executive Director of Alliance for a Green Economy said: “There are many ways to make utility bills more affordable.  For instance, utilities can implement austerity plans that reduce compensation for top management, refinance debt to take advantage of lower interest rates, or avoid unnecessary fossil fuel investments to bring down rates. We find it appalling that Multiple Intervenors offers none of these options in their petition and instead attacks the state’s public clean energy funds, which we need in order to address the climate crisis and support economic recovery through green jobs.”


Bill Nowak, speaking for NY-GEO, a not-for-profit trade association representing geothermal heat pump installers and clean heating industry stakeholders, said: "During this horrible pandemic, we need to be retaining and creating jobs and boosting the economy by funding New York’s transition to a renewable energy economy. We need to be finding ways to install MORE energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, not raiding funds of existing programs."


Kristen Van Hooreweghe, Collective Impact Project Manager at Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, said: “We fully support the need to provide relief from utility bills and to protect consumers from utility shut-offs during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, defunding energy efficiency and renewable energy programs is a step backward, not forward, for New York State. Defunding energy efficiency and renewable energy programs will only exacerbate the climate crisis, which disproportionately impacts low-income and communities of color, just as the COVID-19 pandemic does. We strongly oppose the efforts of Multiple Intervenors, who act on behalf of large corporate entities, to pass the burden of the climate crisis onto working New Yorkers.”


Clarke Gocker, Director of Policy and Strategy at PUSH Buffalo, said: “As New York State takes incremental steps to re-open its economy amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, public investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency can be a driving force for a just recovery for vulnerable workers, small businesses, and frontline communities. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, passed in 2019, for the first time requires investment in green jobs and climate solutions that will directly benefit communities that are suffering the most from the current public health and economic crises. What Multiple Intervenors are proposing is dangerous, and would rob our communities of vital resources for climate and environmental justice.”


Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Action said: “Defunding energy efficiency and renewable energy programs would be recklessly irresponsible. For New York to have a prayer of hitting our emissions reduction targets, we must be doubling down on these programs to accelerate the transition off fossil fuels. While it is not surprising that some would use the covid-19 pandemic in an attempt to prop up dirty energy, it is reprehensible. Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission must see this cynical ploy for what is and reject the petition to raid these clean energy programs.”


Roger Downs, Conservation Director at Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, said: “There are numerous direct and indirect ways that New York families subsidize the fossil fuel industry with every energy bill they pay, even though new climate laws mandate the rapid phase out of all forms of that dirty energy generation. This contradiction seems especially inappropriate now, with calls to use precious clean energy funds to ease financial burdens on ratepayers during the COVID-19 pandemic when those that pollute our air, and significantly impact public health are getting a pass. We urge the Commission to ignore this callous opportunism and alternatively explore ways to help New York’s working families without deepening the climate and public health crisis.”