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Improvements Made To Renewable Energy Program

More Funding to Popular Renewable Technologies; Enhanced Focus on NY Projects

In an effort to further spur renewable energy growth in New York, the New York State Public Service Commission (Commission) today authorized the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to reallocate more than $29 million toward certain renewable energy technologies that have experienced an  increase in demand.

With its action today, the Commission authorized NYSERDA to increase funding levels of four customer-sited tier programs: $11.6 million to the solar photovoltaic (PV) program; $12.9 million to the anaerobic digester gas (ADG) to electricity program; $3 million to the fuel cell program; and, $1.5 million to the on-site wind program.  In total, the funding reallocation will result in the addition of approximately 244MW and 488,000 MWh of energy capacity and delivery, respectively, through 2015.

"These four popular customer-sited tier programs allow, customers to generate electricity while they participate directly in the promotion of certain technologies using self-generation, behind-the-meter, facilities located in New York," said Commission Chairman Garry Brown. "The increased funding for these programs will help encourage development of even greater amounts of renewable energy."


The increased funding to the popular solar PV program will continue to provide market stability while supporting Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun objectives. The NY-Sun initiative was announced by the Governor in his 2012 State-of-the-State address, and established a goal of doubling the 2011 customer-sited PV capacity additions in 2012, and quadrupling them by 2013.

With reallocation of funds, the solar PV program budget for 2013 is $49.1million; however, it is not the only initiative in demand. In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, the fuel cell market demonstrated an increased interest in large-size fuel cells for daily use, with the provision that the systems can run during a grid outage as a resiliency feature.  The current fuel cell program budget of $6.6 million will see an increase. Meanwhile, demand also continues for NYSERDA's ADG program, with reallocation of funds, currently funded at $24.5 million, and on-site wind program, funded at $4.6 million annually.

The customer-sited tier is one of two components of New York's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) program. The larger component is the main tier section, which funds utility-sized renewable energy projects. As part of the changes to the RPS program, the Commission in a separate action today granted NYSERDA's request to limit RPS main tier eligibility to projects located in New York State. NYSERDA sought authority on a going-forward basis to keep participation to renewable energy projects located within the state.

The RPS program promotes environmental improvement, energy security and economic benefits to New York.  Given the significant and sustained drop in the price paid for electricity, and the inability of developers to rely on any consistency in federal support, there is increased pressure on the program. Because of these pressures, the Commission found that it is appropriate and necessary to maximize the value of the potential offsetting economic benefits. The Commission agreed with NYSERDA that the economic benefits provided by in-state projects are substantial in relation to the cost of the RPS premiums needed to induce the projects. 

 


 



Environmental Conference Looks at Green Infrastructure Alternatives

 A roof garden on top of the parking garage at the Newburgh Campus of Orange County Community College will serve as part setting, part inspiration for a day-long Green Infrastructure conference took place on May 8.

The seminar, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Regional Council, at Kaplan Hal on the Newburgh campus, was a venue which offers views of the stormwater-capture system embodied in the roof garden as well as the Hudson River, the waterway the garden is meant to protect.

In accordance with new state policies and programs that encourage Green Infrastructure systems, the garden is designed to prevent excess stormwater from over-taxing the stormwater system in the City. The garden also allows for the natural absorption and filtration of runoff before it gets to the Hudson, thus preserving water quality in the once-endangered river.

The conference, co-sponsored by the Orange County Department of Planning, showcased demonstration projects around the Hudson Valley, including the City of Newburgh, to show the benefits of Green Infrastructure (GI) with respect to stormwater management.  Included in the conversations with noted experts and professionals in the field of GI will be exploration of some additional benefits of Green Infrastructure in urban areas. These ranged from neighborhood revitalization, improvements to air quality, and the creation of more walkable communities.

Rob Rolison, Chairman of HVRC and Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature, welcomed conference attendees along with Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy. Of special note will be Nette Compton, the Director of Green Infrastructure for NY City Parks Department and Rob Crauderueff of the NY City Soil and Water Conservation District. They will join many local speakers and presenters, including Fran Dunwell of the Hudson River Estuary in the 9 to 5 seminar.   This conference was part of a regional education project funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.




NYSEIA Announces 2013 Solar Policy Initiatives 

New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) today announced it will advocate for long-term support of the New York Sun Initiative, as well as on bill solar financing and investment policy initiatives in 2013.   

"To achieve significant and long-term growth of solar energy use in New York State requires a clear indication by government of the importance to move more and more of energy generation from carbon-based to renewable and solar-based energy," said NYSEIA President R. Sail Van Nostrand. 

"The NY Sun initiative is a step in the right direction and includes a trajectory originally contemplated in the Solar Jobs Act," he added. "NYSEIA's goal is to advocate for the Governor's commitment of 10 years ($150 mil per year) of a continuing and growing commitment to solar technology, on a path that fosters significant year over year growth."

Among the other goals set by the association at its annual meeting were supporting:

*     Expansion of "On Bill Financing" from solar thermal to residential PV systems. Used in numerous jurisdictions, this tool eliminates the upfront investment required of homeowners and ties loans to utility service, increasing the likelihood of repayment and reducing the risk of default.

*     Modifying residential remote net metering to allow community solar projects that would increase the use of solar in urban areas where residents don't own property to install systems. Community solar projects decouple solar PV investment from on-site generation. Owners of community solar contribute funds to pay for a portion of a project, and reap benefits proportional to their investment. An added benefit is the efficiency of scale factor, resulting from building one larger project in lieu of multiple smaller projects.

*  Passage of a Net Metering "clean up bill" that would combine two sections of a law to provide consistent requirements for various eligible technologies. Net metering allows customers to generate electricity with environmentally-friendly sources for their own use and credit their utility bills for any excess electricity delivered to the utilities for use by general customers.

*  Change residential requirements and caps on New York State Investment Tax Credit (ITC). NYSEIA advocates for maintaining the per system cap of $5,000 while eliminating the primary residence rule and allowing for independent ITC caps on multiple systems per taxpayer.

Van Nostrand said the association will be "nimble and flexible" to reach its goals and build on the platform set in 2012 when solar took a prominent place in public policy.

"Already, several legislative leaders have indicated their recognition that NY Sun needs to have a longer commitment to attract the investment that is waiting to be unleashed," he said. "Our neighboring states are clear evidence of how fast solar can scale up."

About NYSEIA

NYSEIA, founded in 1994, is the only statewide non-profit membership and trade association dedicated solely to advancing solar energy use in New York State.  NYSEIA represents the 300-plus businesses across 338 locations in New York State that employ over 4,200 individuals throughout the solar value chain. For information, visit http://www.nyseia.org

 



RIGGI Dialogue Participants Commend Mid-Atlantic States for Renewing Their Commitment to Address Climate Change

RGGI Dialogue participants -Calpine, ENE (Environment Northeast), Exelon, Natural Resources Defense Council, and NextEra Energy/FPL Environmental Services - recently commended the nine states for renewing their commitment to address climate change through a strengthened RGGI Model Rule. By improving this already successful program, the RGGI states have signaled that they are serious about tackling climate change in a pragmatic, forward-thinking manner, while also demonstrating to Washington that many parts of the country are moving forward on the issue.

Specifically, RGGI Dialogue participants applaud the following features of the new Model Rule:

*     lowering the emissions cap from the current 165m tons per year to a level that will ensure reductions from current emissions;

*      including a cost containment reserve, which will moderate allowance price volatility; and

*      accounting for the current allowance surplus, while ensuring that those who have invested in the program retain the value of their investments.

"The RGGI program needed a shot in the arm.... all 9 states announced they are going to give it that shot in the arm," said Franz Litz, Executive Director at the Pace Energy Climate Center. "On behalf of the RGGI Dialogue participants, the Pace Center thanks the states for listening and responding to participants' concerns."

"Calpine applauds the efforts of the RGGI states in this stakeholder process," said Derek Furstenwerth, Sr. Director, Environmental Services of Calpine Corporation. "We support the goals of the RGGI program, and at the same time, strongly urge the RGGI states to make good on their commitment to address the potential for emissions from electricity imported into the RGGI region. Addressing such leakage is crucial to maintaining the environmental and economic integrity of the RGGI program. We look forward to continuing to work with the states and other stakeholders in the development of RGGI."

"RGGI states continue to demonstrate national leadership on climate," said Peter Shattuck, Director of Market Initiatives at ENE.  "Resetting the cap at 91 million tons locks in significant cost-effective emissions reductions, and ensures that RGGI will continue to mitigate climate pollution in the future."

"RGGI has shown the nation unequivocally that environmental and economic progress can indeed go hand in hand," said Luis G. Martinez, Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, RGGI is combating extreme weather at its source: climate change. At the same time, it has proved to be an economic engine for participating states: creating thousands of local jobs, generating millions for clean energy development, and lowering energy bills.  As the EPA prepares to issue carbon pollution standards for existing power plants nationwide, other states would be wise to look to RGGI as a model."

The RGGI Dialogue would like to thank the RGGI state staff for actively engaging stakeholders and for being receptive to input and recommendations throughout the 2012 program review process. As a result of this successful effort, the RGGI states have a much improved RGGI program, and the citizens of the region will breathe cleaner air, experience greater investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and find a wealth of new jobs in the clean energy field.

About the RGGI Dialogue : In late spring of 2012, the Pace Energy and Climate Center convened a group of electric generators, utilities and environmental organizations to engage in discussion regarding the RGGI program. The Dialogue aims to support the RGGI states as they continue to consider ways to preserve and improve RGGI through the 2012 program review and beyond.

 


NYSERDA Awards $205,000 to Integral Building Design Inc. to Build New Green Science Lab at SUNY Ulster



The NYS Energy Research ad Development Authority (NYSERDA) has awarded a $205,000 grant to Integral Building Design Inc.of New Paltz to turn Kelder House at SUNY ULster into a "Green" Science lab and training facility. The funding comes throgh NYS's Green Jobs-Green New York Program. Kelder House is one of the campus' original buildings.


The facility will be called the Kelder Science Lab and Test House. Located on the Stone Ridge Campus, it will  be used for hands-on energy efficiency training by the Hudson Valley's five-college Clean Energy Technology Training (CETT) Consortium, which includes Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Sullivan county community colleges. The consortium has been active in developing training programs in clean energy technologies and energy efficiency with support from NYSERDA. 


Building-science lab houses, also known as pressure houses, are built and outfitted so the entire house becomes a building-science laboratory, demonstrating energy loss issues and other problems faced by those working in energy efficiency fields.


This lab house is one of five such facilities being developed across New York State with NYSERDA funding to increase regional access to hands-on field training and testing facilities that prepare energy
-efficiency workers for certifications. The other NYSERDA-funded lab houses are located in Queens, Schenectady, Plattsburgh and Long Island. 


The Kelder building was the original farmhouse on the apple orchard donated to Ulster County in 1964 for creation of the community college. A two-story addition was built in the 1970s, so the combined space could be used as a conference center. The building has most recently been used for storage.


 "The development of an energy
-efficiency training lab house is central to SUNY Ulster's mission. This project is in keeping with the College's vision to provide accessible, relevant programs to our community. To do so in such a sustainably focused way allows SUNY Ulster to continue to be a leader in energy-efficiency training," said Dr. Donald Katt, President of SUNY Ulster.


 "This project will enable the community college
consortium to dramatically expand training for jobs in building sciences and energy efficiency," said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, NYSERDA. "Contractors have told us overwhelmingly that job applicants with hands-on work experience are the most attractive job candidates. This lab house will meet that need by providing learning in a real-life environment. It is the type of innovative project that supports the Next Generation Job Linkage Program that Governor Cuomo announced in his 2013 State-of-the-State address, which calls for linkages between community colleges and employers."

 Integral Building Design Inc., in partnership with SUNY Ulster Community College, Ulster YouthBuild and other project sponsors, is investing approximately $313,000 of in-kind support into the project. 

Building Performance Institute (BPI) certification courses, field training on air leakage and duct testing, and field testing will take place in the Kelder House addition. Once completed, this facility will be a valuable resource in training and educating building professionals throughout the region. Beyond energy efficiency, students and seasoned professionals alike will have opportunities to gain experience and expertise in a wide range of sustainable building practices. Many of the trainings will focus on how to improve existing buildings, with special attention to the problems found in older homes, including issues related to high energy usage, moisture damage, improper ventilation, draftiness and poor indoor air-quality.  

 Ulster YouthBuild members will provide labor to retrofit the original house and will receive a Basics of Building Science course at no cost. This introductory course will expand the education of YouthBuild participants in the field of energy efficiency, building performance and energy auditing, and can lead to BPI certification. YouthBuild is a federally funded program that provides comprehensive job training, educational, leadership development and community development for out-of-school, low-income young adults between 16 and 24. 

The lab house will enable SUNY Ulster and its partners to increase the number of students trained by more than threefold to 300 in 2014 and to add advanced and continuing education building-science courses for professionals certified by BPI.

 Previous NYSERDA funding for SUNY Ulster included $616,786 for energy efficiency and renewable energy equipment, and $225,000 for curriculum development in energy efficiency and clean energy technology. 

                                                                                   


U.S. Green Building Council Names New York to 'Top Ten States" for LEED Green Building

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will release a list of Top 10 states for LEED green building and New York will be ranked as the 7th state in the country for LEED certification - up by three spots from last year's ranking! With more than 127 million square feet of LEED space certified, New York is a leader in green building and is receiving national recognition for it.  If you would be interested in covering this announcement, I would be happy to set up an interview with you and a senior official at USGBC.

Rankings are determined on a points-based system, with the Platinum level as the highest certification. Last year, the National Football League (NFL) corporate headquarters in New York City achieved LEED Gold. There are over 700 LEED-certified buildings across New York.








NYSEIA Supports Gov. Cuomo's Expansion of New York's Solar Energy Program Announced in State of State Address 

 

 New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) applauded plans announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State Address to expand the NY-Sun Initiative for solar energy with an additional $150 million per year over the next 10 years.

NYSEIA President R. Sail Van Nostrand said, "NYSEIA commends Gov. Cuomo for his leadership and vision in recognizing the importance and value solar represents for the state's clean energy future, the protection of the environment and growing the economy. With the additional funding over the next decade, NY will continue to expand its leadership role in solar and make it more accessible and affordable to homes and businesses. NYSEIA looks forward to working with legislators and regulators to move these crucial programs forward."

Launched last year, NY-Sun is intended to help quadruple the amount of customer-sited solar in New York. This initiative is aimed at providing additional certainty to solar developers, attracting significant private investment in solar photovoltaic systems, enabling the sustainable development of a robust solar power industry in New York, creating additional quality jobs, improving the reliability of the electric grid, and reducing air pollution.

The association also praised plans by the governor to create a $1 billion Green Bank that will leverage public dollars with a private sector match to spur the clean economy. The Governor also named Richard Kauffman, a senior advisor to the nation's Secretary of Energy, as New York's chairman for energy policy and finance.

 

About NYSEIA

NYSEIA, founded in 1994, is the only statewide non-profit membership and trade association dedicated solely to advancing solar energy use in New York State.  NYSEIA represents the 300-plus businesses across 338 locations in New York State that employ over 4,200 individuals throughout the solar value chain. For information, visit http://www.nyseia.org



 



Governor Andrew Cuomo Names Expert Panel to Review Fracking SEQRA

John Adgate, Lynn Goldman, and Richard Jackson have been selected by New York Sate Governor, Andrew Cuomo, to undertake the critically important task of reviewing the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) previously completed analysis of health issues in its fracking environmental review. The governor's process does not fulfill many concerned citizens' request for a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment. Additionally, it remains unclear what specifically these experts have been tasked with doing.

"It appears this may be a desk top review of the DEC analysis, rather than the exhaustive study, the kind of study for which these experts are known, it is necessary to understand the extensive public health impacts of drilling," read a statement from the New York Water Rangers campaign. 

The New York Water Rangers campaign is supported by a network of organizations working to protect the rights and health of New Yorkers and one of our most precious environmental resources - water - from the dangers of irresponsible, poorly regulated, and under-inspected natural gas exploration and development. The campaign is supported by Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Earthjustice, EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environment New York, Fleased, Natural Resources Defense Council, Otsego 2000, and Riverkeeper. 

Last week, they encouraged the Cuomo Administration to give their named experts unfettered access to information, data, and background information, as well as access to public health professionals from local communities across the state and reports from gas-producing regions, to help complete this work in a credible and comprehensive manner.

"Governor Cuomo must empower these experts to conduct the health review they conclude is necessary and ensure that the public is fully involved before any decision can be made about whether New York should allow fracking to move forward in New York," read the statement.

"We know that Mr. Adgate, Ms. Goldman, and Mr. Jackson have an enormous task in front of them in their review of the Department of Environmental Conservation's already-completed study on the public health impacts of fracking. All New Yorkers can be thankful for their willingness to take on the critically important and complicated public health concerns," said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director. "Additionally, in light of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, it is vital that local public health and medical professionals have the opportunity to provide feedback, suggestions, and concerns. We continue to call on the state to perform a comprehensive public Health Impact Assessment. And to ensure the credibility of this study, strongly encourage the administration and the governor's appointees to undertake a more open and transparent process that fully involves the public," she added.


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