Measures Can Save Low-Income Households Up to $1,000 Annually on Heating Bills

Funding Provided by Cuomo’s Record Settlement with American Electric Power Last Year

NEW YORK, N.Y. (November 10, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new program created by his office that will deliver $1.9 million to New York’s neediest families to help them cope with the high cost of home heating oil. The Oil Efficiency Pilot Program is a first-ever initiative in New York to help low-income households heating with oil to pay for heating upgrades and weatherization.  These measures can cut average household heating costs by as much as $1,000 annually, while reducing smog, acid rain and global warming pollution.  

Funding for the program comes from Attorney General Cuomo’s record settlement with the nation’s largest power company last year for violations of the Clean Air Act. From the $75 million settlement, Cuomo secured a record $9.5 million over the next five years for use in energy efficiency and air pollution reduction projects – the largest payment for environmental projects ever received from a New York State settlement under the Clean Air Act. 

“The burdensome cost of home heating oil is just another thing threatening to break the bank for New York families this winter,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “But the pilot program we’re announcing today does something no state initiative has done yet-provides direct financial assistance to help New York’s neediest families heat their homes more efficiently, which translates into immediate savings on their monthly bills.”

Governor David A. Paterson said: “This is going to be an especially harsh and difficult winter for many New York families. New Yorkers should not be endangered by falling temperatures and rising heating costs. I applaud Attorney General Cuomo for his pro-active, direct approach to this problem. This will compliment the ongoing multi-agency initiative — HeatSmartNY — to provide energy efficiency services to households throughout New York. At a time when family budgets are tighter than ever we must work aggressively to find multiple solutions to the widespread problem of rising heating costs.”

About three million households in New York State rely on oil to heat their homes, many of which are in rural areas not served by natural gas. Despite recent drops in oil prices, the price of heating oil is still burdensome and many of New York’s neediest families struggle to keep up with their monthly bills. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that the average family using oil will spend about $450 more to heat their homes this coming winter.  At recent prices, the total cost for an average household to heat with oil this winter is expected to reach almost $2,400. 

The Oil Efficiency Pilot Program, announced today by Cuomo, is the first efficiency initiative in New York to specifically target low-income households that heat with oil.  This new program will be administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), expands existing Authority programs to help New York’s neediest use home heating oil more efficiently. Overall, approximately 500 low-income New York households are expected to benefit from the pilot program.

This new program will offset the costs of installing high-efficiency furnaces, steam boilers, and household hot water systems, as well as insulation, weatherstripping, and other weatherization features.  These oil efficiency measures are expected to save an average household approximately 224 gallons of heating oil per year.  The new program will also pay for cost-effective electricity saving measures, such as lighting and refrigeration replacements, with estimated annual savings to average households of 600 kilowatt hours.  Through these measures, the new program could save an average household up to $1,000 annually.   

The program is also expected to result in substantial clean air benefits, including decreases in smog, acid rain and global warming pollution emissions that are equivalent to taking over 250 cars off the road each year.   

Bob Callender, Vice President for Programs at NYSERDA, said: “Thanks to the leadership of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, we will be able to assist more cash-strapped New Yorkers this coming winter with an energy efficiency program dedicated to heating oil consumers. This initiative will complement Governor David Paterson’s HeatSmartNY initiative and implement one of the recommendations of his Renewable Energy Task Force report.”

The Oil Efficiency Pilot Program was made possible through a record settlement that Attorney General Cuomo, along with the federal government and a coalition of states and environmental groups, reached last October with American Electric Power (AEP), the nation’s largest power company, over violations of the Clean Air Act.  In addition to requiring AEP to invest nearly $5 billion to upgrade its fleet of 16 coal-burning power plants and cut 800,000 tons of pollutant emissions, the settlement required the company to pay $75 million for penalties and environmental projects.  From this payment, Cuomo secured a record $9.5 million over the next five years for use in energy efficiency and air pollution reduction projects – the largest payment for environmental projects ever received from a state settlement under the Clean Air Act. 

Those interested in participating in the Oil Efficiency Pilot Program may call NYSERDA at 1-877-NYSMART for more information.

For more information on ways to make your home more energy efficient, please visit, or call (877) NY-SMART.