Sustainable Development

New York Launches $19M Truck Voucher Incentive Program

New York State has launched a $19 million program to promote sales of commercial electric-powered and alternative-fuel vehicles.

New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program

NY Truck Voucher Incentive Program (photo – truck-vip.ny.gov)

The New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program (NYT-VIP) will provide vendors with vouchers to reduce customer purchase costs of electric and alternative-fuel trucks and diesel emission control devices (DECDs).

NYT-VIP is a “first-come, first-served” program that includes three separate funds administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

One fund is the New York State Electric Vehicle – Voucher Incentive Fund (NYSEV-VIF), vouchers for which are available now. This is a $9 million fund which provides voucher incentives for battery powered all-electric vehicles (EVs) that can be classified under Class 3 to Class 8 private and public fleet vehicles.

Vehicles must be registered, garaged and operated at least 70 percent of the time in one of the 30 NYS counties that do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards. NYSEV-VIF will provide vouchers to vendors covering 80 percent of the incremental cost, up to a maximum of $60,000 per EV.

The second fund is the New York City Alternative Fuel Vehicle – Voucher Incentive Fund (NYCAFV- VIF). This is a $6 million fund for purchase of alternative fuel vehicles in NYC, including EVs, hybrids, CNG vehicles and CNG engine conversions.  The rest of the criteria are about the same, except that the vehicle is limited to NYC’s five boroughs, and the voucher covers a maximum of $40,000 per vehicle.

The third fund is the New York City Diesel Emission Reduction – Voucher Incentive Fund (NYCDER-VIF). This is a $4 million fund that provides vouchers for DECDs. The criteria are the same as NYCAFV- VIF, except that this fund covers the full cost of the DECD purchase and installation.

The alternative fuels voucher programs for NYC will become available later this month, and the DECD voucher program is set to begin next month.

Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO, NYSERDA, said that New York State is lessening its dependence on foreign petroleum by promoting energy-efficient transportation and electric trucks, and by incentivizing businesses and municipalities to embrace eco-friendly transportation technologies.

Pasadena, California-based CALSTART, a non-profit that promotes growth of clean transportation technology, is helping NYSERDA manage NYT-VIP.

John Boesel, President and CEO of CALSTART, said they were excited about the opportunity for partnering with NYSERDA, the City of New York and NYS DOT to make this program a success.

NYT-VIP is inviting OEMs, vehicle technology vendors, leased vehicle operators and fleet owners to participate in the program. Find out more at truck-vip.ny.gov.

Maryland’s GHG Reduction Plan to Support 37,000 Jobs

Maryland has released a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan which outlines specific programs to achieve a 25 percent statewide reduction in GHG emissions by 2020.

Maryland Climate Change Summit

Maryland Climate Change Summit (photo – MD Governor’s Office)

The “Plan” was released at a climate change summit hosted last week by MD Governor Martin O’Malley and well attended by government officials, environmental advocates, scientists, business leaders and community activities.

Most of the components outlined in the Plan are programs that are already in the process of being implemented. Even so, putting it all together as a long-term framework will help the state bolster these programs over the next seven years with policy changes and new technologies.

Together, the initiatives included in the plan will account for GHG emissions reductions of 55 million metric tons.

The state will see $1.6 billion in economic benefits from the Plan, which is expected to support 37,000 jobs and have a positive impact on public health.

One of the key components of the plan is the Maryland Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), which has fueled demand for renewable energy generation by requiring power producers to source 18 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Another initiative, EmPOWER Maryland, is pushing for energy efficiency to cut peak load and energy consumption by 15 percent. A “Zero Waste” program pushes for reducing GHG emissions from landfills by hiking the recycling requirement for government managed solid waste to 60 percent by 2020.

Maryland is a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is a joint cap-and-trade initiative launched by Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to control industrial emissions. GHG emissions from vehicles are being reduced through the Maryland Clean Cars Program.

Governor O’Malley said that as severe weather events continued to grow in impact and size along with elongated trends of poor air quality, the costs of inaction grows exponentially. He said Maryland was moving forward with action taken to create green jobs while protecting public health, air, water and land.

Maryland, which has a 3,000-mile coastline, is highly vulnerable to climate change. Rising sea levels and storm intensity will have devastating economic and environmental impacts on Chesapeake Bay.

Don Boesch, president of the Center for Environmental Science at the University of Maryland, said that significant emissions reductions would have to be made over the next few decades to avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change, and Maryland has an opportunity here and a responsibility to lead.

Read the full Maryland Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan – Download (pdf)

NYSE Joins UN’s Sustainable Stock Exchanges Program

NYSE Euronext (NYX), the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, announced that it was joining the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) program.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at SSE NYSE Euronext event

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at SSE NYSE Euronext event (photo – un.org)

The SSE initiative was created in 2009 to enable stock exchanges to work together with companies, investors and regulators to enhance transparency on social, environmental and corporate governance issues.

The group aims to encourage responsible and long-term investment policies, and now includes eight exchange groups including both NASDAQ OMX and NYSE Euronext.

The inclusion of NYSE Euronext in this group takes the SSE initiative to a whole new level. Not only is it the world’s largest stock exchange, but is also the only exchange that has managed to achieve carbon neutral status for the last three years running.

NYSE Euronext was created in April 2007 after the merger of NYSE Group, Inc. with Dutch company Euronext N.V.

Duncan L. Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, said they were proud to join the SSE initiative and partner with others in their industry and the UN to support best practices in transparency and corporate governance related to sustainability.

Niederauer added that NYSE Euronext leads by example by running the business in an environmentally responsible fashion, and would leverage the unique power of the NYSE Euronext community and their platform to empower collaboration and learning in the broader corporate sector.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rang the closing bell on Wall St yesterday to mark the occasion, following an event hosted in New York by NYSE Euronext that brought together sustainability professionals, academics, senior executives from NYSE-listed companies, leaders from the UN and representatives from some of the world’s leading non-profits.

Mr. Ban said that the addition of the world’s largest stock exchange to SSE was a significant step forward and signaled the relevance and importance of sustainability to private sector companies from all over the world.

He said the private sector plays a central role in providing solutions for the most pressing needs in the world, and investments must be sustainable – not just in terms of delivering financial value, but also in environmental, developmental and social terms.

Mr. Ban said that investors are embracing sustainability because they realize that developmental challenges such as poverty and climate change are long-term risks that threaten businesses and stability.

He thanked NYSE Euronext for joining the SSE initiative, and urged other stock exchanges around the world to do the same.

Environment America Report – Top 12 Solar States

The Environment America Research & Policy Center released a report that highlights what other states can learn from the top 12 solar states.

Top 12 solar states

Top 12 solar states (photo – environmentamerica.org)

The 12 states that make the list based on per capita cumulative solar capacity include Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont.

The report makes use of previously published data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), so it’s not exactly breaking news. What’s interesting is the analysis of each state’s policies that help promote solar installations, and what’s common among the policies implemented by these 12 states.

The report’s apt title is “Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States.”

These 12 states together comprise only 28 percent of the U.S. population and 21 percent of the total electricity consumption. However, they account for 87 percent of the photovoltaic capacity installed last year, and 85 percent of all the cumulative installed solar energy so far.

Highlights from the report’s policy analysis:-

- Strong net metering policies that allow consumers to offset utility bills with solar power generated onsite have been implemented by 11 of the 12 states;

- Renewable electricity standards that require utilities to include at least a minimum amount of power from renewable sources are in place in 11 of the 12 states;

- State interconnection policies that facilitate connection of solar energy systems to the grid are in place in 10 of the 12 states; and

- Property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, third-party power purchase agreements and other creative financing options are available for solar installations in a majority of the 12 states.

The report authors say that plenty of sunshine doesn’t make a state a solar leader. What’s important, they say, is the degree to which local and state governments in these states have created effective public policy that helps the solar industry develop by pushing home owners and businesses to go solar.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said encouraging solar power was the right thing to do for the economy and the environment. Delaware was ranked fifth for its per capita solar installations last year, and seventh in terms of its cumulative solar installations.

To date, 50 MW of solar capacity is connected to the grid in Delaware, fueled by a 25 fold rise in solar installations since 2008, which in turn has been a result of aggressive policies and initiatives such as the Green Energy Fund, Sustainable Energy Utility auctions for SRECs (solar renewable energy credits), and the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards.

Dale Davis, president of the Delaware Solar Energy Coalition, said that their solar success was a result of cooperation between the administration, state legislators, utilities, the solar industry, solar energy system owners and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).

Read the full Environment America report on the top 12 solar states – Download (pdf)

RIEDC Approves $200K Grant for Eco-friendly Hydropower Project Study

The board of directors of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) has approved a $200,000 recoverable grant for JAL Hydro, LLC to help the company run a pre-development feasibility study for a low-impact hydropower project.

Archimedes Screw generator

Archimedes Screw generator (photo – nehydropower.com)

The North Kingstown, RI-based JAL Hydro is planning to set up two Archimedes Screw Generators at the Natick Pond Dam on the Pawtuxet River in West Warwick, RI.

If implemented, the project will have the capacity to generate 296 kW of power.

JAL Hydro is affiliated with Massachusetts-based New England Hydropower Company LLC (NEHC), which develops and manages small-scale hydroelectric facilities at the local or regional level.

JAL was expressly established in Rhode Island with the intention of helping NEHC expand its presence in the state with low-impact hydropower facilities.

The two companies have worked together on all aspects of the Natick Pond Dam project. The two generators required for the project will be supplied by NEHC.

The project also involves a certain amount of innovation because this is the first time Archimedes Screw generators are being used in the U.S. for a hydropower project.

These generators are based on an ancient concept where water is poured in at the top of a tilted screw, which forces it to rotate. The rotating shaft is then used to generate electricity.

The movement is very slow, with a controlled flow of water from sluice gates. It is made in such a way that large fish, ice and debris can swim or float right through it without any hassle or blockage.

Archimedes Screw generators therefore produce renewable energy while causing a minimal environmental impact. They are already in use in Europe, but this is the first time this technology is being used in the U.S.

The RIEDC is providing the $200,000 recoverable grant through the state’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF). If the project is ultimately feasible and implemented, REF will get its money back from JAL.

The $200,000 grant covers less than half of the pre-development project stage costs. The full implementation of the project will require an investment of nearly $2 million.

JAL has already conducted an initial feasibility assessment for the site in question, and subsequently obtained a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to continue with pre-development activities.

JAL Hydro’s Bob Cioe said that now, with the Rhode Island EDC‚Äôs confidence and after working with various state agencies, their team was enthusiastically embarking on this exciting opportunity to use the state‚Äôs natural resources in a sustainable and innovative manner.

U.S. Announces Offshore Virginia Wind Energy Lease

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will auction 112,800 acres of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore from Virginia as a single lease for a commercial wind energy development project.

Offshore VA Wind Energy Lease

Offshore VA Wind Energy Lease (photo – boem.gov)

The project location is 23.5 nautical miles off the coast from Virginia Beach, and has the potential to generate 2,000 MW of renewable wind energy – enough for powering 700,000 homes.

The auction of the selected OCS area as a single lease will be held on Sept 4, 2013.

This is the second such OCS bloc being auctioned for a wind energy project, following an earlier announcement of a similarly large bloc offshore from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. That auction is scheduled to take place on July 31, 2013.

The location was selected by DOI and BOEM after careful consideration to avoid clashes with existing use of the same area.

The federal agencies collaborated with the Commonwealth, wind industry, environmental conservation organizations and other stakeholders to make sure the project will not interfere with sensitive ecological habitats, military training zones, a NASA space flight facility and a disposal site for dredging operations.

BOEM also published the shortlist of eight prospective applicants for the leasehold eligible to participate in the auction. Apart from Dominion Virginia Power, the list includes Apex Virginia Offshore Wind, LLC and Sea Breeze Energy, LLC, among others.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the announcement was a significant and exciting step in their effort to advance the Commonwealth’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

Virginia has been involved in the project, and created the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority (VOWDA) for overseeing the effort to gather data and do the required research and planning for supporting the wind energy lease and development project offshore from the VA coast.

The Governor said Virginia’s shipbuilding industry was poised to serve as the center of construction for components required for the wind energy project’s specialized ships, turbines and towers, and would subsequently gain more of the same work for additional future wind leases on the east coast.

Gov. McDonnell added this would result in creation of high-skilled jobs and millions of dollars in new investments.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell likewise said that commercial development of wind energy has the potential to increase energy security, create jobs and strengthen the nation’s competitiveness.

Read more about the Wind Energy Offshore Virginia lease on the boem.gov website.

Montgomery, AL Gets $35M Waste Recovery Facility With 110 Jobs

Infinitus Energy broke ground on an advanced waste recovery facility in the City of Montgomery, Alabama that will prevent 85 percent of the city’s waste from going to the landfill.

Infinitus Renewable Energy Park (IREP)

IREP (photo – infinitus-energy.com)

The Infinitus Renewable Energy Park at Montgomery (IREP Montgomery) project requires the company to make a $35 million investment and will create 110 new jobs.

IREP Montgomery will take a year to build and is expected to become operational by June 2014. Once the system is operational, Montgomery residents will only have to put all their trash into a single city-issued bin.

The garbage will be picked up by sanitation workers employed by the City and moved to the 81,992-square-foot I-Energy Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) on a 74-acre industrial site adjacent to the landfill. The waste will then be sorted using air and optical screening technologies.

Recyclable materials such as paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, wood, metal and plastics are automatically recovered by the system and sorted based on composition, size, shape and density. Further sorting will then be done by hand.

The facility will be pressurized, keeping waste inside and preventing odor or noise pollution in the surrounding environment. It is being designed and built by Eugene, Oregon-based BHS, and will use separation technologies provided by Nashville-based NRT and by Nihot, which is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

A second phase of the project will install anaerobic digesters to convert the organic waste coming into the facility into compressed natural gas. The anaerobic digesters will be provided by Lafayette, California-based Zero Waste Energy.

IREP Montgomery will be able to process 225,000 tons of waste every year. Other communities within a 90-mile radius of the facility will also be able to use the facility.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange signed a municipal solid waste feedstock supply agreement with Infinitus Energy CEO Kyle Mowitz in May 2013. The agreement establishes a 25-year partnership between the City and I-Energy which ensures the City’s waste will go to the IREP Montgomery facility.

Mowitz said Infinitus Energy was delivering to the City of Montgomery an economical big-picture solution for multiple problems faced by the world now and in future.

Mayor Strange said this was a long-term green investment for Montgomery and Alabama, and the City would be seen as a trendsetter and leader in green technology implementation that benefits residents and the planet.

Method To Open Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products Factory in Chicago

San Francisco, California-based Method, which makes eco-friendly soap and other naturally derived biodegradable cleaning products, will open their first U.S. manufacturing plant in Chicago, Illinois.

Method Products

Method Products (photo – methodhome.com)

After it was acquired by Belgian company Ecover last year, Method became the world’s largest green cleaning products company.

Their flagship factory project in Chicago is aiming for LEED certification, and will be located in the historic Pullman neighborhood.

The neighborhood gets its name from the fact that Pullman railroad cars used to be produced here, and it is now in the midst of a massive decade-long urban revitalization project with investments worth tens of millions poured in to create parks, streets and residential units.

Adam Lowry, co-founder and chief greenskeeper of Method, said the Chicago proposal was a milestone in Method’s journey aligning their business interests with the environment and the interests of society.

Lowry added that the Pullman neighborhood’s rich industrial heritage provided a fitting backdrop for the inspiring new model of sustainable manufacturing and urban renewal.

Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI), a community development organization focused on neighborhood revitalization and economic development in low and moderate income communities, is one of the lead developers involved in the Pullman neighborhood.

CNI had not planned to add a factory in Pullman, and the proposal will need zoning approval from the City.

State incentives for the project are being provided under the Illinois Enterprise Zone program by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), which expects Method to be eligible for $1.1 million in tax credits, linked to the company’s job creation and investment performance. The manufacturing plant is expected to create around 100 jobs.

CNI will likely apply for reimbursements of $8-$9 million in TIF funding for site acquisition and preparation expenses, among other things. The City of Chicago will also provide a job training grant for Method in the form of TIF funding.

Method CEO Drew Fraser said the opportunity to open a factory in Chicago was made possible by the City’s business friendly environment and its commitment to job growth. Fraser said the company aims to demonstrate their commitment to the region and hopes to play a vital part in the area’s growth and prosperity.

Method has more than 40,000 retail outlets around the world, and its products are carried by major retailers including Target, Kroger and Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers.

House Appropriations Bill H.R. 2609 Slashes Green Energy Spending

Last week, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 2609, aka the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014.

U.S. Dept. of Energy

U.S. Dept. of Energy (photo – energy.gov)

The $30.4 billion energy-water budget as proposed under H.R. 2609 drastically cuts federal spending on green energy programs.

The Department of Energy faces the biggest cutbacks in the bill.

The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) budget is slashed to $746 million, which is 73 percent (or $2 billion) below what the administration requested in the FY 2014 Budget request.

The bill seeks to consolidate DOE offices including EERE and the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (EDER). The budget allocation for the consolidated office would be almost a billion dollars less than the combined FY 2013 allocations of these offices.

The U.S. would have to give up on trying to replicate past success at doubling renewable energy from wind and solar.

Funding for building efficiency would be reduced by more than two-thirds, bringing R&D in new technologies and improved appliance standards that reduce electricity usage to a screeching halt.

The U.S. would be shutting down offices that assist low-income households reduce their energy bills, and would no longer be able to devote resources for oversight of investments, grants and contracts that have already been approved.

H.R. 2609 slashes the budget of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds transformative energy research, by 81 percent compared to the FY2013 allocation.

Climate change also gets the boot, with funding for Weatherization Assistance Program authorizations permanently blocked. The Corps of Engineers get $50 million less than requested for civil works, with no allocation for flood risk evaluation studies that would be used to develop programmatic enhancement plans of civil works infrastructure to deal with increased risk of extreme weather.

The bill prevents implementation of certain sections of the Clean Water Act that protect aquatic resources while supporting economic development.

Funding for the San Joaquin River Restoration in California is scrapped in the bill. This project aims to restore salmon and other fish populations to self-sustaining levels in the section of the San Joaquin River in between the Friant Dam and the river’s confluence with the Merced River.

Amendments added to H.R. 2609 also scrap regulations on incandescent light bulbs and freezers, and eliminate funding for a media campaign to promote alternative energy.

The bill would need to be approved by the Senate and then signed by the President in order for these measures to be implemented. The White House has threatened to veto the bill.

New York Awards $54M for Large Solar Power Projects

New York announced $54 million in state funding for 79 large-scale solar power generation projects across the state.

Solar power

Solar power (photo – ogs.ny.gov)

The funding is being provided to 20 recipients under the second round of the NY-Sun Competitive PV program, with the chosen projects expected to add 64MW of solar power capacity to the state.

The 79 solar sites being funded are spread across 26 counties, and include installations at factories, colleges, municipal buildings and other large industrial or commercial facilities and institutions.

Funding under the NY-Sun Competitive PV program is administered by NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and is limited to projects with capacities larger than 50kW.

The maximum funding provided to each project under this program is limited to $3 million, and requires the recipient to come up with co-funding to leverage the state’s contribution.

The $54 million being provided by the state is expected to be used by recipients to leverage another $120 million private investment, leading to a total of $174 million for large solar projects across the state.

Fifteen of the 79 solar project sites are in New York City, including a HUB retail center and the Bronx Terminal Market in the Bronx; Gateway Center and Sunshine Lighting project in Brooklyn; and College Point in Queens.

Finger Lake has 11 solar sites receiving funding, including two in Rochester at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the corporate headquarters of Wegmans Food Markets.

Western NY has nine sites on the list, including the solar project at Cummins Inc.’s Jamestown Engine Plant. The Southern Tier has three sites, including one at Cornell University in Ithaca. North Country’s two sites include one at Clarkson University in Potsdam.

Central New York’s six sites include SUNY Cortland’s solar project. Also on the list are solar projects at multiple Raymour & Flanigan stores in Mid-Hudson (23 sites) and the Capital Region (10 sites).

Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO, NYSERDA, said these investments will help businesses reduce utility bills, and increase the amount of renewable energy electricity generated in New York while reducing demand on the electric grid.

The NY-Sun Competitive PV program is meant to provide incentives for organizations to generate solar electricity for their own use. The $54 million announced under the second round represents a portfolio-weighted average incentive of $0.84 per watt.

The program doesn’t require producers to sell the generated power to utilities under an FIT program, but producers may get future utility credit for sending unused power back to the grid.

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