New York Adds Energy Efficiency to Water Loan Criteria

ALBANY, New York, April 29, 2008 (ENS) – Municipalities that need State Revolving Loan Funds to upgrade their drinking water and clean water infrastructure will have to consider energy efficiency and smart growth in their applications from now on. The two factors will be included in the decisionmaking process that prioritizes funding decisions.

Announcing the change today, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said the state also will launch an initiative to provide more transparent information regarding the use of the funds.

“One of DEC’s priorities is to foster green and healthy communities,” Grannis said. “These programs support critical municipal infrastructure, and we need to maximize their benefit by promoting good land use and efficient energy use along with protection of water quality.”

New York uses the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds to evaluate and financially support infrastructure for wastewater collection and treatment systems and drinking water systems.

Both programs employ a point system to prioritize proposed municipal projects for funding, using a range of public health and water quality factors. Going forward, the programs will incorporate wise land use and energy conservation as factors.

This effort will involve an interagency rulemaking team spearheaded by DEC and involving the Environmental Facilities Corporation and the state Department of Health.

“Safe, healthy drinking water is our highest priority,” said State Health Commissioner Richard Daines, MD. “Water system improvements that increase energy efficiency while improving water quality will further enhance the public’s health by reducing pollution associated with energy consumption.”

The initiative will serve as a follow-up to the governor’s executive order establishing a smart growth cabinet and directing all agencies to review programs that impact land use and economic development.

“By making sure that the state is funding energy-efficient upgrades at treatment plants,” Grannis said, “we can contribute to Governor Paterson’s effort to reduce statewide electricity demand by 15 percent by 2015, and reduce the pollution that causes climate change.”

A recent DEC report found that sewage treatment infrastructure around the state is aging out and in need of an estimated $36.2 billion in repairs over the next 20 years. The DEC has established a new executive staff position to focus on this looming public need.

“The state must be an energizing force for smart growth. The alignment of state fiscal resources with smart growth principles is a priority,” said Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez. “This is a major step forward.”

Since 1990, EFC has provided municipalities with over $11 billion in low cost financial assistance, and an additional $1.3 billion in direct interest subsidies, for over 1,800 water supply and water pollution control projects.

EFC Acting President Matthew Millea said the additions to the point system will ensure that the state supports projects that are “cost efficient, environmentally sustainable, and built where we most need them.”

State officials will solicit public input by holding stakeholder sessions around the state on the issues of energy efficiency and smart growth as they relate to the State Revolving Loan Funds programs.

They will consult with municipalities and municipal organizations to address land use, smart growth, and energy efficiency in State Revolving Loan Funds.

They will initiate a rulemaking process for the DEC regulations affecting these programs and consult with partner agencies regarding similar efforts with respect to their jurisdictions.

By September 1, the responsible officials from both agencies will post fact sheets on each project funded by the revolving loan funds on the Environmental Facilities Corporation website, along with a statewide map of all projects.

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