A National Model for Fighting Climate Change
Environmental Advocates of New York’s mission is to protect our air, land, water, and wildlife and the health of all New Yorkers. Based in Albany, we monitor state government, evaluate proposed laws, and champion policies and practices that will ensure the responsible stewardship of our shared environment. We work to support and strengthen the efforts of New York’s environmental community and to make our state a national leader. Environmental Advocates of New York 353 Hamilton Street Albany, NY 12210 Tel 518.462.5526 Fax 518.427.0381 www.eany.org
Table of Contents
RGGI: A National Model for Fighting Climate Change
Executive Summary.................................................1 Reshaping New York’s Economy.............................2 Success in Every County .........................................6 Recommendations & Conclusion...........................11 Source Documents..................................................13
David VanLuven Katherine Nadeau Copyright © August 2013
Environmental Advocates thanks The Energy Foundation, The Orchard Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, The JM Kaplan Fund, The Wallbridge Fund, The William C. Bullitt Foundation, and The Civil Society Institute for their generous support of this work.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A MODEL FOR CLIMATE ACTION
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a work-horse, not a show-horse. RGGI is a ninestate coalition which has capped carbon pollution for energy plants at 165 million tons annually across the Northeast while using money raised from the sale of carbon pollution credits to reinvest back into energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. In the few years since the program’s inception, RGGI has become the guiding hand responsible for moving thousands of important projects in every region, county and legislative district from concept to completion. In fact, when President Obama announced his climate change action plan in June, 2013, he referenced 12 states which have successfully moved to cut climate-altering carbon pollution from energy producers – nine of which make up the RGGI coalition. The President’s announcement coincides with New York’s own efforts to further strengthen RGGI in the wake of the devastation felt by Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Lee.
At the time of this writing, Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed rules that will further lower the amount of pollution energy plants may emit, which will further fight climate change, and raise new revenue for the development of clean, renewable, and homegrown power. Today, when the Governor speaks about breaking down government’s silos and opening New York for business, RGGI is a program he can proudly point to as the connective tissue furthering his New New York agenda, rebuilding our state’s economy. As New York prepares to adopt the rules which will guide RGGI during the next several years, it is important to look back at some of the key investments and community benefits delivered from this national model for tackling the emissions causing climate change. Governor Cuomo has recognized that economic development and environmental protections must work hand-in-hand, more so than any of his recent predecessors. The Governor became a national voice on the need to fight climate change following Superstorm Sandy. And he followed up that rhetoric with proposed rules to strengthen RGGI which will:
• Lower New York’s carbon cap by 45% • Increase greenhouse gas pollution premiums • Continue the state’s commitment to clean energy and efficiency
Since inception, RGGI has:
Sparked the development of innovative residential building retrofit financing mechanisms Launched green economy workforce programs Enhanced consumer outreach and education models Supported the conversion of large residential buildings to more efficient fuels Fostered ambitious investments in solar installation
Map of member states
While Environmental Advocates acknowledges significant work remains in the fight to protect New Yorkers from climate change, strengthening RGGI is a critical first step. In almost any project of significance, several state agencies play key roles within the process – each having control over their workload, often competing goals, and varying levels of experience or interest in collaboration. As a result, “speed” and “effectiveness” are two words not often associated with state government. RGGI, however, is changing that dynamic between not only the relevant state agencies, but local government, community organizations, and business leaders, too. Under Governor Cuomo’s RGGI operating plan, funds are being utilized across a robust portfolio of energy efficiency, clean power, technology innovation and workforce development programs forcing stakeholders to identify common goals and collaborate. The results of this collaboration include thousands of examples in every corner and every county in the state.
Igniting Development in 62 Counties
As of March, 2013, New York had auctioned 197.5 million carbon dioxide allowances, forcing inefficient power plants to pay $450 million for climate pollution. The majority of those funds were directed to climate change mitigation and adaptation projects – a critical effort in the wake of the devastation felt by increasingly extreme, erratic and unpredictable weather, including Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Lee. These RGGI allocations have created jobs and advanced clean energy and energy efficiency projects across New York. The program has already supported a significant increase in residential energy efficiency projects, the installation of more than three megawatts of solar photovoltaics, clean technology research and market development, industrial energy efficiency, and climate research and analysis.
RESHAPING NEW YORK’S ECONOMY
RGGI, Inc. is a nonprofit composed of heads of energy and environmental agencies from the nine participating states. In November, 2012, RGGI Inc., estimated that over its first three years of operation, energy efficiency investments funded by the auction of carbon pollution allowances will save homeowners and businesses $1.3 billion. In addition to considerable economic benefits for consumers, the program has ensured many environmental protections, and curbed more than 12 million tons of climate-altering carbon pollution – the equivalent of taking two million cars off the road for one year. Coalition states have also invested $617 million of carbon auction proceeds into programs designed to reduce climate-altering pollution, increase energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, lower consumer costs, and promote economic development in the clean energy sector.
A Record of Success
In addition to fostering better coordination outside and within state government, New York has used RGGI to invest much-needed funds into fighting greenhouse gas pollution, lowering consumer bills, and producing cutting edge research on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Over the following sections, we highlight several successful program areas driven by RGGI, including:
• Green Jobs Green NY program • Developing the next generation of workers • Making large properties more efficient • Clean energy, big savings • Climate change adaptation
Green Jobs Green New York
RGGI’s most significant investment is in the area of residential efficiency services, accounting for more than 50% of program spending. It is easy to see why: New York’s housing stock is old and inefficient, with 85% constructed prior to 1980. Residential structures are responsible for 29% of electricity consumption statewide. Buildings – residential, commercial, and industrial – are responsible for 39% of the state’s overall
greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the transportation sector. The Green Jobs program directs RGGI funds to provide free home energy audits, offer innovative lowcost financing options for efficiency retrofits of single and multi-family structures, and develop building efficiency job training programs. Bolstered through the Power New York Act of 2011, Green Jobs is the only statewide clean energy program with the flexibility to promote energy efficiency and sustainable building measures for homes, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. RGGI funds, unlike other fuel-specific NYSERDA programs, are not constrained by Public Service Commission (PSC) rules that limit spending to measures related only to electric or natural gas improvements. This allows RGGI programs to reach a broader set of customers, such as the more than 30% of New Yorkers who cur-
rently use oil to heat their homes. Prior to the creation of Green Jobs, funding options available to these households were very limited.
Saving New Yorkers Money
As of February, 2013, more than 31,000 single-family energy audits had been completed through Green Jobs. Importantly, the completion rate from audit to retrofit is 35% – a significant increase over NYSERDA’s audit program completion rate prior to Green Jobs which was a cool 10%. Green Jobs offers innovative financing options to customers to retrofit their homes. After undergoing a free or reduced cost energy audit to identify a menu of proven cost savings measures, individuals have the option of applying for a direct loan through NYSERDA or entering into an agreement to pay off the loan through their utility bills, a practice commonly known as “on-bill recovery.” The scope of projects are based
on each household’s estimated monthly energy savings, and repayment plans are designed to then determine loan repayment schedules based on savings. This approach eliminates a significant market barrier by providing the upfront capital for common sense efficiency projects without increasing monthly expenses. The creative financing options are clearly attractive to homeowners. Through the first part of 2013, NYSERDA closed on 3,099 loans totaling $31,324,984 for building energy retrofits. Overall, when accounting for all of NYSERDA’s residential efficiency offerings, Green Jobs energy audits have resulted in the completion of more than 11,000 projects.
The flexibility of RGGI funds allows for a co-mingling with other initiatives supported by NYSERDA’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, Systems Benefit Charge, and Technology & Market Development programs – sources which are restricted to research and development and projects related to electricity and natural gas. This flexibility also means partners and participants extend well beyond the usual suspects. RGGI dollars have been used to create partnerships with community colleges, universities, local high school vocational programs, and businesses statewide, funding curriculum development, training centers, equipment and tools, field testing labs, certification, and accreditation. Notable examples include:
• Syracuse University’s Southside Innovation Center; • The Hudson Valley’s five college Clean Energy Technology Training Consortium (Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Sullivan Community Colleges); • Commercial energy audit training at the City University of New York, SUNY Stony Brook, and Monroe County Community College • Local 32BJ Thomas Shortman Training Fund for building performance training.
A Skilled Workforce for a Cutting-Edge Economy
Green Jobs is also focused on building and maintaining the infrastructure necessary to educate, train, and prepare New Yorkers for new economy jobs in building efficiency and renewable energy. The program directs NYSERDA to bring together all stakeholders and develop a robust network of workforce development and community outreach partners to promote program participation and help individuals, particularly those from traditionally economically distressed areas, down the path to a career in the clean energy economy. It accomplishes this in part by mandating highly successful coordination between the state’s Department of Labor, the Division of Homes & Community Renewal, the Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance, educational institutions, labor unions, businesses, and community-based organizations throughout the state.
NYSERDA invests RGGI resources in New York to:
Spur the clean energy economy Reduce greenhouse gas emissions Provide consumer, health, and environmental benefits Offset disproportionate impacts on environmental justice communities
RGGI job training funds are available to businesses that have worked with the Department of Labor’s OneStop Career Centers which match career applicants with green job opportunities. For each new hire by building performance contractors, NYSERDA covers 50% of the worker’s salary during a six-month on-thejob training period. Businesses are also eligible for an additional $4,000 incentive to cover outside training costs. Through early 2013, 35 businesses and more than 100 individuals had benefited from this program. As part of the “Pathways Out of Poverty” focus of Green Jobs, the program has dedicated resources to disadvantaged youth. NYSERDA has worked with organizations like YouthBuild, the Urban League of Rochester, and the Northeast Parent & Child Society to provide job training and General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.) assistance services to at-risk youth.
Putting the Hudson Valley to Work
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: John Bonacic, David Carlucci, Terry Gipson, Cecelia Tkaczyk, James Seward, Bill Larkin Assembly: Didi Barrett, Kevin Cahill, Aileen Gunther, Eileen Jaffey, Kieran Michael Lalor, Annie Rabbitt, Frank Skartados, James Skoufis, Claudia Tenney, Ken Zebrowski
organizations throughout the state with an emphasis on communities in clean air non-attainment zones or where energy costs are high in relation to median family income. NYSERDA contracts with community-based organizations to provide specialized consumer outreach and education, especially in the area of financial counseling for retrofit loans. They also work with local contractors to aggregate energy efficiency projects in particular neighborhoods in return for upfront commitments by the contractors to provide community benefits like local hiring, prevailing wages, and benefits; in turn, contractors benefit from work in multiple buildings within close proximity.
In the Hudson Valley, the SUNY Ulster Clean Energy Technology Training Consortium has attracted more than 2,500 participants to be trained in renewable energy and green technology construction. As a result, companies like SolarTech Renewables, Malcarne Construction, and Hudson Solar have been able to expand their businesses by hiring well trained, clean energy professionals from the local workforce. RGGI funds have played a key role in the Consortium, a five-county partnership between Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, and Sullivan County community colleges. In 2013, SUNY Ulster tapped additional RGGI funds to partner with a local green building firm and transform one of the college’s original buildings into a state-of-the-art energy efficiency science lab. The building will serve as a regional training center for students pursuing certifications in sustainable building practices, providing demonstrations of real world challenges that contractors and building-performance professionals encounter when conducting energy efficiency retrofits. RGGI funds are also being used to build four other training facilities across New York, thereby creating a skilled workforce for the state’s 21st century economy.
Courtesy of Barbara Reer
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Mark Grisanti, Timothy Kennedy Assembly: Michael Kearns, Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Sean Ryan
The original Green Jobs legislation directed NYSERDA to develop unique consumer education and workforce outreach partnerships with community-based
Community-based organizations play a key role in the recruitment and retention of individuals seeking green careers, coordinating with One-Stop Career Centers and local training programs to match applicants with job and educational opportunities. Many of these organizations also offer support services like G.E.D. programs and assistance accessing other state resources available to assist families, low-income individuals, and the unemployed.
There are 18 active community-based organizations bringing energy efficiency services to underserved communities across New York. To bring energy efficiency opportunities to underserved parts of Buffalo and surrounding communities, PUSH Green utilized RGGI support to launch a program that:
• sends canvassers to knock on doors and explain the cost benefits of Green Jobs loans and on-bill financing; • provides financial advocates to help homeowners navigate the complexities of getting free energy audits and applying for loans; and • works with contractors on follow-through to make homes more energy efficient.
Making Large Properties More Efficient
SUCCESS IN EVERY COUNTY
Both the Multifamily Performance Program and Multifamily Carbon Emissions Reduction Program utilize RGGI and complementary NYSERDA clean energy funds to provide loan support for wholesale energy retrofits and heating fuel conversions at larger residential buildings with five or more units.
Students Help Cool Greater Binghamton Airport
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Tom Libous Assembly: Donna Lupardo
Nearly 60% of the program funding has been dedicated to buildings serving low-income housing units. PUSH Green also helped build a Like the residential programs for trained workforce in the area by smaller homes, all buildings unhaving organizers work directly with the state Department of Labor, dergo energy audits to determine applicable cost-effective measures businesses, and the Laborers International Union of North Amer- like converting heating units from ica to connect individuals interested oil to more efficient fuel sources, in pursuing a green career pathway installing more efficient water heating systems, improving building with training and apprenticeship envelopes, and modernizing HVAC initiatives. systems. The result has been new jobs, more The Multifamily Carbon Emissions efficient homes, and lower elecReduction Program provides highly trical bills for many Buffalo-area sought funding to convert heatresidents living in underserved ing systems from #6 fuel oil – the neighborhoods. heaviest and most polluting – to cleaner fuel alternatives. Within three months of its launch in 2011, these RGGI dollars were committed to 190 projects to benefit more than 30,000 households.
The Greater Binghamton Airport, using awards from RGGI’s Regional Economic Development and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is constructing a ground-breaking project that will be used to demonstrate the feasibility of utilizing geo-thermal technology to manage airport operations, maintenance, and safety throughout the nation. The initiative was the result of a winning proposal submitted by Binghamton University students to an annual FAA competition that challenges participants to develop solutions to problems that can sometimes disrupt airport operations. The engineering undergrads teamed up with Broome County officials, the Greater Binghamton Airport, and the McFarland and Johnson engineering firm to come up with an innovative system that will use geo-radiant heating to prevent snow and ice accumulation at the primary passenger loading area on the airport’s tarmac. The technology will also double as the cooling system for the main terminal during the summer months. It is difficult for airports to manage winter precipitation because traditional methods, like salt, have the potential to damage jet engines.
Courtesy of PushGreen
The $1.2 million FAA grant has been dedicated to the installation of the geo-thermal heating prototype. RGGI’s Regional Economic Development and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program provided $350,000 to connect the main terminal to the geo-thermal system. The project is an excellent example of how Governor Cuomo’s RGGI-funded programs are tapping the innovation of universities to resolve the pragmatic challenges facing businesses and communities.
RGGI has provided $1.8 million in funding to help H2Pump bridge the gap between innovation and commercialization by demonstrating the effectiveness of its technology at industrial facilities across the state. By documenting and certifying the cost savings and environmental benefits gained with through a hydrogen recycling retrofit, H2Pump will be well positioned to mass market their technology. The devices are to be utilized at six locations, including:
• Rome Strip Steel in Rome • Pall Corporation’s site in Cortland • The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany
Helping H2Pump Recycle Hydrogen
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Neil Breslin, Joseph Griffo, Joe Robach, James Seward Assembly: Anthony Brindisi, Harry Bronson, Patricia Fahy, Barbara Lifton, Phil Steck
The Zeller Corporation, based in the City of Rochester, is handling the manufacturing of the hydrogen recycling products, providing an additional boost to New York’s economy.
Many industries rely on hydrogen as an integral part of their manufacturing processes, but it comes at a significant cost both to the companies and the environment. Manufactures that do not produce hydrogen on-site have to procure their gas from outside suppliers, forcing them to incur production and delivery costs. Conventional manufacturing operations use an application of hydrogen only once per cycle, releasing the rest into the air. These inefficient processes result in increased demand for hydrogen production, 95% of which is derived from natural gas, driving up air emissions linked to the manufacture, transportation, and delivery of the gas. H2Pump LLC, a company based in Latham, NY, took a look at how hydrogen was being utilized and saw a huge cost saving opportunity. Taking advantage of the RGGI Industrial Process Improvement Program, the company developed a hydrogen-recycling technology that allows manufactures with hydrogen-intense processes, like those involved in steel and semiconductor production, to reuse as much as 90% of the gas – avoiding the need to refuel with each application. The innovative device helps to cut back on hydrogen use, storage, and transportation costs. The company estimates that the average net savings per hydrogen-recycling machine installed is $55,000 per year.
Modernizing Large Buildings
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Brad Hoylman Assembly: Richard Gottfried
The Carnegie House is a 317 unit co-op located in the heart of Manhattan. Built in the early 1960s, the building was bleeding energy and running on outdated systems that were approaching the end of their lifecycles. In New York City, where electricity costs are consistently among the most expensive in the nation, needlessly wasting energy is no laughing matter. Luckily, the building’s board worked with NYSERDA to tap into RGGI and other clean energy funds to develop the Multifamily Performance Program, an energy efficiency building retrofit initiative geared toward residential buildings with five or more units. The program provides applicants with grants and low-interest loans for projects that will reduce oil, natural gas and steam energy use, improve the performance water heating systems, ventilation and building envelopes to cut energy use and costs.
Working with NYSERDA, the Carnegie House board and their building manager secured nearly $200,000 worth of incentives and a $500,000 low interest loan through the Green Jobs Green New York program to overhaul the building’s energy systems. The project involved upgrading the ventilation system, insulating the steam line, and installing energy efficient lighting fixtures. The Carnegie House now uses 15% less energy and its residents save $250-$475 per year on their utility bills. In all, the project savings are expected to exceed $1.2 million over the life of the measures, paying for itself in just under six years.
350 Solar Projects
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: John DeFrancisco, Michael Nozzolio, Patricia Ritchie Assembly: William Barclay, Gary Finch, Brian Kolb, Samuel Roberts
RGGI funds have supported solar installations at homes, government buildings, and businesses across the state – creating jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping New York transition to clean, 21st century energy sources. The more than 350 solar projects supported by RGGI‘s Statewide Photovoltaic Program include:
• Cayuga Community College, where a126-panel array will provide taxpayers with energy cost savings for the next 25 years. • St. Luke Apartments in Oswego, a101-unit affordable housing project for seniors, low-income residents, and people living with disabilities. The system will reduce the building’s energy costs by nearly $40,000 annually. • Geneva Community Center where a 117-panel array is projected to save the center nearly $150,000 in utility costs over 25 years. • Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt, whose 117-panel array will save the school $6,000 to $9,000 each year in utility costs.
Clean Energy, Big Savings
The RGGI-funded Statewide Photovoltaic Program provides incentives for residential, commercial, and industrial solar installations with an emphasis on strategically located projects that reduce peak loads and other stresses on the electric grid. The program has provided funding for 367 solar photovoltaic systems adding up to nearly 3.5 MW of generating capacity – enough to power approximately 550 homes. RGGI funds have also stabilized Long Island’s successful but under-resourced Solar Pioneer Rebate program with $11 million to help the program meet increasing demand for solar power on Long Island. As a result, the Long Island Power Authority has been able to proceed with a utility-scale solar project to generate 50 MW of new energy capacity – enough to power 7,750 homes with solar.
Next Wave of Solar Development
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Neil Breslin, Kathy Marchione Assembly: Pat Fahy, Jim Tedisco
Utilizing $5 million in RGGI funds in conjunction with additional state and private commitments, the Governor leveraged the hugely successful SUNY Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Technology partnership with semiconductor pioneer SEMATECH to win $62.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. The partnership will bring down the cost of solar manufacturing by 75% over the next decade. Building off the renowned SEMATECH semiconductor model of the 1980s – the impetus of the computer age as we know it – the public-private partnership
formed the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC). Headquartered at the Albany Nanotech facility, PVMC has brought together over 40 leading solar industry members and partners to develop the next generation of solar photovoltaic technology. The PVMC members are pooling their resources to take advantage of SUNY Albany’s nanotechnology expertise and state-of-the-art facilities which include the Solar Energy Development Center in Halfmoon, NY. The collaborative effort, which will be overseen by SUNY Albany and SEMATECH and implemented by members of the consortium, is focused on advancing thin film solar photovoltaic cells by improving performance and reliability while lowering costs at each stage of production – from development to deployment. The initiative has the potential to establish New York and the U.S. as the global leader in next generation solar manufacturing.
be harvested up to seven times over 20 years from just one planting. They require minimal maintenance and can thrive on land that would otherwise be ill-suited for other crops, providing farmers with new economic opportunities. The product can be used to generate heat and electricity or as a biofuel to meet transportation needs. The ESF Willow Biomass Training Program will work with stakeholders throughout the nine-county region to support the environmentally sound development of a commercial willow shrub supply chain. The program will provide farmers and landowners with guidance on how to maximize willow production on marginal tracts of farmland, as well as on transportation and energy production. The program coincides with a $1.2 million award from the USDA to spur the development of 1,200 acres of new willow shrub crops in New York. ReEnergy Holdings, a bioenergy company based in Latham, NY and a partner in the project, has committed to purchase willow produced under the program for use at two of its existing biomass facilities: Black River in Fort Drum, NY (which converted from coal to biomass in 2013) and Lyonsdale in Lyons Falls, NY. Although the willow is burned as a fuel source, studies have shown that the carbon dioxide absorbed by the growing plants balances that which is emitted through combustion. However, the methods used to grow and transport the plants (particularly fertilizers which emit nitrous oxide) can shift the process to be a net absorber or emitter of greenhouse gases, which is why the training provided by this project is so important.
A Future Powered by Biofuel
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Neil Breslin, Hugh Farley, Joseph Griffo, Betty Little, Patricia Ritchie, James Seward, David Valesky Assembly: Ken Blankenbush, Anthony Brindisi, Janet Duprey, Patricia Fahy, Bill Magee, William Magnarelli, Addie Russell, Dan Stec, Phil Steck
For over 25 years, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has been leading research on producing willow shrubs for use as a carbon-neutral renewable biofuel. Now, backed by a $397,000 RGGI grant, ESF is ready to enact a training program to scale up willow crop production to commercial scale. The program will offer ESF’s expertise and technical knowledge to landowners, farmers, and other bioenergy stakeholders to help guide best-practices in the areas of willow production, management, harvest, and distribution. The program will benefit the economies of nine upstate counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Oswego, and St. Lawrence. Using willow shrubs as a bioenergy source offers great agricultural potential. These fast growing shrubs can
$10 Billion Reasons for Adaptation
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Adriano Espaillat, Tom O’Mara, Bill Perkins Assembly: Barbara Lifton, Daniel O’Donnell, Keith Wright
New York’s entire infrastructure is outdated. Following Superstorm Sandy, infrastructure in many parts of New York City, Long Island the lower Hudson Valley was swamped just when residents were most in need. And infrastructure is only some of the ways climate change is impacting our way of life: entire commu-
nities were built in known flood plains, and a loss of natural barriers like wetlands leaves New Yorkers in danger. NYSERDA’s Climate Research and Analysis Program supports extensive scientific research on the observed and potential future impacts of climate change in New York, and then utilizes data to develop mitigation and adaptation measures to better prepare for future climate challenges. In 2011, climate scientists at Columbia University, the City University of New York, and Cornell University, commissioned by NYSERDA, released what many consider a definitive study on climate change adaption, entitled, “Responding to Climate Change in New York State.” The exhaustive 600-page report (referred to as ClimAID) is the most detailed examination of the impacts the warming climate is having on the state to date.
of dollars in damages, and displacing more than 10,000 New York households. The ClimAID report included a series of climate change assessments across eight distinct sectors: water resources, coastal zones, ecosystems, agriculture, energy, transportation, telecommunications, and public health. Each section included specific recommendations on critical areas requiring more in depth analysis. New York State is using these recommendations to commission a suite of projects on climate issues. All of these projects were in the early stages at the time of this report, but the following examples provide a closer look at three projects addressing natural resource mapping, transportation infrastructure, and dairy industry cooling techniques.
Landscape and Wildlife Adaptation
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Neil Breslin, David Valesky Assembly: Patricia Fahy, William Magnarelli
Superstorm Sandy was a violent reminder that we need to adapt our communities and infrastructure to handle climate change and ensure that New York’s natural systems – whether barrier beaches and coastal wetlands on Long Island, forests and alpine systems in the Catskills and Adirondacks, or streams and wetlands in our neighborhoods – can adapt as well. A North Country road is washed out following Tropical Storm Irene. Courtesy of Martha Allen / Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Published as New Yorkers were still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, ClimAID projected that, in the absence of significant actions to reverse the warming trend, the frequency and severity of extreme weather would worsen. According to the study, heat waves and heavy storms are expected to become more prolonged and intense, exacerbating the threat of flooding, and economists predict climate impacts could cost as much as $10 billion a year in New York State by 2050. Less than a year after the report was released, Superstorm Sandy struck, killing dozens, causing tens of billions With more than 7.5 million acres of conservation lands across the state – plus all the natural lands in private ownership – New York’s natural resource managers have a lot of work to do. The challenge, however, is determining what should be done and where. Through funding from RGGI, the Nature Conservancy, SUNY-ESF, and state Department of Environmental Conservation are developing a decision support toolkit for natural resource managers. The map-based digital tool will walk them through land management questions to help them decide where to pursue different adaptation strategies, such as protecting wildlife migration corridors and restoring floodplains.
Keeping Roads Safe
Subways and tunnels aren’t the only transportation infrastructure in New York vulnerable to flooding. Roads statewide often follow flood-prone valleys and cross streams and rivers that rise dramatically during extreme downpours. Although climate change is projected to bring extreme downpours more frequently to New York, and in the process deliver more severe floods, the state design standards for our roadways are still based on weather patterns from the 1960s. With RGGI funding, Cornell University climatologists and the state Department of Transportation are using sophisticated computer models to project the future extreme downpours that our roads, and our communities, will likely be facing. These models will be a sound basis for establishing updated design standards that will help ensure roadways can withstand future floods.
novel cooling system comes in. Rather than simply letting the waste heat dissipate into the air, he is testing a system that would capture that heat and use it to generate a stream of chilled fluid. That fluid can be routed below cow resting areas to alleviate heat stress and, in turn, boost milk production. Dairy is a major industry at risk. Keeping cows cool will be an increasingly serious challenge as summers grow progressively hotter, but creative approaches can both address the local challenge of producing milk while contributing to the broader challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energy.
RECOMMENDATIONS & CONCLUSION
New York State has launched its required regulatory review process in order to lower the carbon cap and adopt additional recommended amendments to the RGGI program. The process is being led by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, NYSERDA, and the Public Service Commission, and will conclude in late 2013. Environmental Advocates of New York supports Governor Cuomo’s broad proposals to expand and strengthen RGGI, a plan which will:
1: Ensure that New York adopts, by January 1, 2014, a carbon pollution cap that reduces emissions to current levels – on par with its share of the 91 million tons agreed to by the broader RGGI state coalition – and places the state on track to further reduce emissions by 20% by 2020. 2: Utilize the state’s authority to retire and/or permanently withhold unsold and undistributed allowances from prior auctions prevent dirty power plants from circumventing critical reforms.
Keeping Dairy Cows Cool
Legislative Districts Benefitting Senate: Tom O’Mara Assembly: Barbara Lifton
Dairy cows don’t like heat, which means milk production will drop due to heat stress as climate change makes New York’s summers hotter. To offset this problem, researchers are exploring a variety of cooling techniques, such as improved ventilation in barns and sprinklers, to keep the milk flowing. With funding from RGGI, Dr. Lars Angenent at Cornell University is exploring a novel cooling system to use cow manure for the generation of flammable biogas which can be burned to generate electricity. This process reduces greenhouse gas emissions and allows farmers to generate their own electricity on site. Unfortunately, the process isn’t perfectly efficient and generates waste heat. And this is where Dr. Angenent’s
Environmental Advocates is also urging:
• A rational emissions leakage policy that accounts for the carbon emissions associated with all the electricity consumed within the RGGI region, including power imported from states not currently participating in the program. • Expanding the program to cover emissions associated with other economic sectors including industrial stationary sources, energy infrastructure like pipelines and well pads, buildings, and transportation. • Including known greenhouse gas pollutants such as methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. • Continuing the state’s commitment to invest RGGI proceeds in ways that help spur the clean energy economy; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; provide consumer, health, and environmental benefits; and offset disproportionate impacts on underserved communities by dedicating increased revenues to NYSERDA’s portfolio of energy efficiency, clean power, and technology programs.
RGGI was billed as a critical tool in New York’s fight to address the impacts of climate pollution. The success of the program is proof positive that policies aimed at supporting environmental stewardship and economic growth can be one and the same. New York has an opportunity to build on the successes of RGGI through the adoption of a strict cap that will cut carbon emissions by another 45%. The state should utilize the regulatory process to push the envelope by exploring ways to expand the reach of the program to cover other economic sectors, cap additional greenhouse gases, and finally take on the challenge of pollution generated through electricity imports. A lower, more aggressive cap can strengthen and expand RGGI’s successful programs, thereby boosting New York’s clean energy economy and better protecting New York’s communities and treasured landscapes from the most severe consequences of climate change.
• 2011-2012 Annual Report – NYSERDA • Binghamton Airport Geothermal Project, Carl Beardsley, Broome County Aviation Commissioner • Binghamton Airport Geothermal Project: CFA Project Data - http://www.nyscfaprojectdata.ny.gov/cfadatatable/nyserda?field_cfa_agency_value=All&field_ny_region_value=Southern+Tier&field_round_key_value=2-3&=Apply • Biomass Crop Assistance Program Project Area 10: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/bcap_ny10. pdf • Biomass Crop Assistance Program Project Area Number 10 – Overview: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/ FSA/newsReleases?area=newsroom&subject=landing&topic=pfs&newstype=prfactsheet&type=detail&item=pf_20120608_consv_en_proj10.html • Central New York REDC & NYSERDA Announce SUNY ESF Project to Grow Willow Biomass Industry fro Renewable Energy: http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/Newsroom/2013-Announcements/2013-06-11-CentralNY-REDC-and-NYSERDA-Announce-SUNY-ESF-Project.aspx • Chapters 487 and 488 of the Laws of 2009 and Chapter 388 of the Laws of 2011 • Developing Willow Biomass Crops as a Source of Home Grown Energy; T.A. Volk, SUNY ESF, March 20, 2010. • Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Promulgation of the Proposed Revisions to 6 NYCRR Part 242: CO2 Budget Trading Program And the Promulgation of the Proposed Revisions to 6 NYCRR Part 200: General Provisions; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, July 9, 2013. • ESF, ReEnergy Collaborate on USDA-Funded Willow Program: http://www.esf.edu/communications/view. asp?newsID=1778 • Fiscal Year 2012-13 Budget and Financial Plan – NYSERDA, September 2012 • Green Jobs – Green New York Monthly Update: April 2013 • Green Jobs – Green New York Monthly Update: February 2013 – NYSERDA • Green Jobs – Green New York Outreach and Marketing Plan – NYSERDA, June 28, 2010 • Green Jobs – Green New York: Annual Report – NYSERDA, July 31, 2012 • Green Jobs – Green New York: Workforce Development Operating Plan – NYSERDA • New York Green Residential Building Program Annual Report – NYSERDA, September 2012 • New York Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Advisory Group Meeting Proposed RGGI Operating Plan Power Point – NYSERDA, May 2, 2013 • New York’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Operating Plan Amendment for 2013 – NYSERDA, April 25, 2013 Draft) • New York’s RGGI-Funded Programs Status Report: Quarter Ending December 31, 2012 – NYSERDA • New York’s RGGI-Funded Programs Status Report: Quarter Ending June 30, 2012 – NYSERDA • New York’s RGGI-Funded Programs Status Report: Quarter Ending September 30, 2012 – NYSERDA • NYSERDA Awards $1.8 Million to H2Pump of Latham To Help Demonstrate Energy-Saving Hydrogen Technology, January 29, 2013: http://www.h2pumpllc.com/news/ • Operating Plan for Investments in New York Under the CO2 Budget Trading Program and the CO2 Allowance Auction Program – NYSERDA, November 15, 2012 • Operations and Accomplishments Annual Report: Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 2012 – NYSERDA • President Obama Speaks on Climate Change, June 25, 2013: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/ video/2013/06/25/president-obama-speaks-climate-change • Process Evaluation and Market Characterization and Assessment – Green Jobs-Green New York Residential Program – NMR Group, September 2012 • Regional Investment of RGGI CO2 Allowance Proceeds, 2011 – RGGI, Inc., November 2012 • RGGI Auction Results: http://www.rggi.org/market • Toward a Clean Energy Future: A Three-Year Strategic Outlook 2012-2015 – NYSERDA, July 2012 • Toward a Clean Energy Future: A Three-Year Strategic Outlook 2013-2016 – NYSERDA, July 2013 • U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium: http://www.uspvmc.org/
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