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Sullivan considers Energize NY

Mark Thielking
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Fritz Mayer
November 16, 2016

MONTICELLO, NY — Mark Thielking, the executive director of Energy Improvement Corporation, appeared at a meeting of the Sullivan County Legislature on November 10 to explain the Energize NY program.

Energize NY is described as a state agency with the mission “to provide energy efficiency and renewable energy benefits to New York property owners.”

He showed examples of the kind of project the program has funded, such as a new roof and solar panels for a community building.

Thielking said that through county governments choosing to join the program, about 40% of New York State residents outside of New York City are currently able to apply for funding through the program. He said that the organization has existed only for about a year, and is crossing the $1 million mark in terms of investing in projects and expects to reach another million in this quarter.

Sullivan County Treasurer Nancy Buck said she thought it was a good program, but she objected to the fact that paying back the investment would be done through the county tax system, and that if a property owner went bankrupt the county would be on the hook for making Energize NY whole.

Thielking said Energize NY is owned by the members, the municipalities, and that the county could shape the program to minimize risks. County legislators could decide, for instance, not to include any gas stations in the program, because if there is an environmental problem in one, they are very difficult to sell.

In terms of possible loss, Thielking said there was a reserve fund that would be used to make up any loss the county might suffer, once the county had gone through the entire foreclosure process on a property.

He also said only buildings that were owned commercially or by a not-for-profit would be eligible for the program for now, because mortgage banks that hold mortgages on most single homes object to this sort of financing. He said that some states had moved forward with homes anyway, but New York is “waiting for some clarity from the federal government on how they would not object.”

Legislator Alan Sorensen wondered if the county would be able, initially, to cap the number of projects or dollar amount.

Thielking said that could be done in negotiating the contract that the county will sign with Energize NY, but he said that negotiation would take place after the county passed a local law to enter the program.

The legislative committee members voted four to one to move forward with adopting the local law.