Monday, May 29, 2017

A Diverse NY Coalition Seeks to Pass Landmark Climate Policies Centered on Justice and Equity for Workers and Communities

NY Renews is a coalition of 109 labor, community, environmental, and social justice organizations across the state of New York from Buffalo to Brooklyn. The coalition seeks a transition from dirty fossil fuels to 100% clean renewable energy with good jobs, healthy communities, and climate justice for all New Yorkers.

NY Renews is fighting to pass the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which sets in law that:
  • NYS must eliminate all climate pollution by 2050
  • 40% of state energy funding must go to disadvantaged and environmental justice communities
  • Fair labor standards must be attached to renewable energy jobs
In 2016, the CPPA passed the Assembly and got majority co-sponsorship in the Senate before being blocked by Senate Republican leadership.

NY Renews is also developing a new bill to fund a just transition to renewable energy by levying a penalty on polluters. This bill should be completed by August. If passed, it would be the first policy of its kind in the country.

Ultimately, NY Renews wants to build a stronger, more diverse climate movement in New York. The coalition wants to use that power to pass landmark climate policies that center justice and equity for workers and communities.

The state climate leadership is going to be critical under Trump.  If New York were a country, we’d have the 12th largest economy in the world. We have a huge opportunity to lead the rest of the country, and the world, toward equitable climate policy, and defy Trump’s insane climate denial.

Recently, Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders introduced a federal bill, the ‘100 by '50 Act,’  which would provide job training for low-income Americans and Americans of color, as well as those in coal communities, to work in the renewable energy sector.

Similar campaigns are popping up in other states, from Washington to New Jersey.

NY Renews plans to complete the just transition bill this summer, and to launch it together with the CCPA as a package in September. NY Renews will push to pass as much of it as possible in the final state budget scheduled to be released April 1, 2018.

Learn how you can get involved with NY Renews. Sign up for actions and updates by visiting the NY Renews website.

Buffalo-area members of the NY Renews Coalition include:

Buffalo Coalition for Economic Justice
Climate Justice Coalition of WNY
Grassroots Gardens WNY
Interfaith Climate Justice Community of WNY
Massachusetts Avenue Project
OPEN Buffalo
Partnership for the Public Good
PUSH Buffalo
Sierra Club
UAW Region 9
Ujima Company
Urban Chamber of Commerce 
WASH Project
WNY Council on Occupational Safety & Health

New York State is Betting Big that by Switching to Cleaner Power it will become a Jobs Magnet

How New York Is Building the Renewable Energy Grid of the Future

This is a story of ripping up old incentives that encouraged selling as much electricity as possible, then unleashing the entrepreneurs.

By Leslie Kaufman, InsideClimate News   
May 25, 2017

New York State is making a $5 billion bet that by making its power cleaner, it can become a magnet for the clean energy jobs of the future.

Its efforts stand out among the many states racing to integrate more renewables into their power grids—such as Massachusetts, Hawaii and California—not necessarily for the technology but because of what's happening behind the scenes: New York has launched a Herculean effort to turn around an antiquated system that has deterred innovation for generations by rewarding utilities for selling more electricity.

To get utilities to embrace a changing electricity system, the state is establishing ways for the companies to be reimbursed for some of the savings from energy efficiency programs that are reducing demand for their services. It also is allowing them to reap more return on their investments in equipment needed to bring more renewable energy into the grid. And it is investing in entrepreneurs who are inventing the technology to make it all work.

The state is so gung-ho that its rules require utilities to come up with demonstration projects that test out a new business model, in partnership with at least one private sector company.

The result, say the state's regulators, is that New York is already attracting hundreds of innovative companies of all stripes. The plum opportunities are not only in installing wind turbines and solar panels, which are generating new employment opportunities across the country, they are also in emerging technologies related to smart grid management and storage. These jobs are largely invisible to the public and, in some cases, didn't even exist a few years ago.

While the state hasn't yet projected overall how many jobs are in the new energy economy, they have released enticing tidbits. In January, the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) released a report projecting that by 2030, New York's energy storage industry could realize annual revenues between $5.6 billion and $8.7 billion, with total job growth between 17,300 and 26,800 employees. Jobs in the energy storage industry already grew by 30 percent between 2012 and 2015 to 3,600.

"We are now the leading market for energy storage companies," boasts John Rhodes, president and CEO of NYSERDA, pointing to companies like NOHMs Technologies in Rochester and BessTech in Troy. "And probably microgrid technology as well."

One of the companies that has been drawn to New York's new markets is Opus One Solutions. New York's vision relies on distributed, independent power operations that ramp up and down with the intermittent sunshine and wind, as well as with the fits and starts of demand for power. Opus One has software that can understand how those waves of power from distributed resources interact with traditional power flows. Just as important, its software can make real-time price estimates for the value of those local power sources.

"Why New York?" asks Alison Smith, the start-up's director of markets, gazing out at the Manhattan skyline from a conference room at the Urban Future Lab, a state-sponsored incubator for start-ups.
"It is the most forward-thinking state in North America in considering how we build the critical elements of a distributed grid," she answers.

Incubating Clean Energy Innovation

Three years ago, New York announced that it would spend $5.3 billion toward meeting its goal of having 50 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. (The state only had 24 percent renewable generation in state this year.) Mandates related to these standards have resulted in significant additions of wind and solar to the grid—but that is just the most readily visible part of the changes New York is undergoing.

According to Richard Kauffman, the state's chairman of energy and finance, it didn't take long to figure out that "New York cannot cost effectively make this transition just by bolting wind and solar onto the grid of Westinghouse and Tesla," referring to two of the original creators of the grid, George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla. Instead, New York wants a new "hybrid grid" that integrates intermittent and distributed resources like wind or solar or microgrids.

 At the core of the problem to getting that grid was a stodgy, legacy financial model for utilities that didn't support innovation. Utilities have historically been rewarded with 9 percent rate increases when they add capital expenditure for transmission and distribution to new central power stations, which in New York are historically gas and coal with some nuclear and hydro. The result is that New York has added so much base load capacity to meet peak demand (largely in these traditional forms of energy generation) that on an average day the state uses just 54 percent of generation capacity.
"Technology is not what is holding us back," said Kauffman. "Could I tomorrow install smart meters in every home and save energy? Absolutely. But until now, there has been absolutely no financial incentive to do this."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eco-Friendly Electric Buses for Buffalo?

Sierra Club Niagara Group is advocating for the NFTA to purchase ELECTRIC BUSES, which have zero emissions and so are more eco-friendly than the existing buses.

The group is hosting a consultant to make a presentation about assisting transit agencies with the transition to electric buses on Thursday, June 8th, 6:00pm at the Crane Branch Library in Buffalo.

An electric bus will be on display at the Allentown Art Festival and the Elmwood Farmers' Market on Saturday, June 10th.  

Learn more about electric buses, and how you can get a ride on one, at the event described below.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon -- League of Women Voters Buffalo/Niagara


Roger Cook

Recipient of the 

Making Democracy Work Award

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hyatt Place Restaurant, 5020 Main Street, Amherst 

Lunch served at Noon - Reserve by May 30 (see below)

Special Awards:
  • Joan K. Bozer Leadership Award: Kathleen McCarthy
  • LEE Award: Joanne Hameister for Long Term Commitment to the League with Energy, and Excellence
  • Making Democracy Work Award: Roger Cook  
Luncheon: $25 League members and students; $30 guests
Write checks payable to LWVBN and send your check and name(s) of attendees to LWVBN, 1272 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14209 for receipt on or before May 30.

Award Ceremony Only: Contact the league office at by May 30 and plan to arrive at 1:30 p.m.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Solarize Amherst Workshops: A New Town Program to make it Easier and More Affordable to Purchase Rooftop Solar Panels

New program makes it cheaper for Amherst residents to 
'go solar'

By Joseph Popiolkowski | Buffalo News Online
May 4, 2017

Installing solar panels on roofs in Amherst is about to get easier and more affordable with the launch of a new town program.

Participants in the "Solarize Amherst" campaign can expect to save 10 percent through discounted group rates the town negotiated with three installers: Solar by CIR, Solar Liberty and Frey Electric.

"The town is acting as a liaison between the installers and residents and commercial property owners to work together to set up their own contracts if they want to install solar," said Mike Delamere, the town's energy manager.

A kickoff event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers at Town Hall, 5583 Main St., Williamsville, where residents may schedule a free solar evaluation, which includes a roof evaluation, preliminary site design, energy usage profile and financial analysis.

Workshops also will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. May 17 at the Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Road, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20 in the Clearfield Community Center, 730 Hopkins Road.

To encourage participation, the town is also waiving its $200 electrical permit fee for property owners who sign a contract with one of the three installers by June 5.  The program runs between May 9 and July 31.

A 4 to 5 kilowatt system is sufficient for most small residences and costs between $10,000 and $12,000, but that cost is cut by half after various rebates, Delamere said. Most homeowners can expect to recoup their upfront cost in four to five years, he said.

"Then after that it's all free electricity," he said. "The return on investment is about 4 to 5 years."

The roof-mounted photovoltaic panels degrade to about 80 percent efficiency after 20 years, Delamere said. An inverter in the basement to convert direct current to alternating current lasts between 10 to 15 years.

Installing a system can result in considerable savings for homeowners over the long term, he said.

"Any excess power that you produce actually reverses the electric meter," he said. "If you're producing more power than you're using, like on a sunny day in the summertime, you'll be reversing your electric meter so you get a credit for later on in the evening or different times in the year."

The solarize campaign is one of at least four initiatives the town's Clean Energy Communities Committee is completing for Amherst to become a Clean Energy Community, a program of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and become eligible for a $250,000 grant.

The Town Board on Monday will consider purchasing an electric vehicle for the town fleet. The town has also trained building inspectors to be qualified to review solar plans and do inspections of solar installations and is adopting a unified solar permit, which are standards from NYSERDA that municipalities should follow.

"The weather patterns are really changing so everybody's getting more interested in doing what they can to save the planet," Delamere said.
~     ~     ~

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Buffalo Activists Traveled to Washington D.C. to March for Climate, Jobs and Justice

By David Kowalski

100 People Traveled from Buffalo to D.C. in Buses Chartered by the Sierra Club 

Photos below show a few of the groups of people after departing the bus at the RFK Stadium in D.C.. [Click images to enlarge

 Buffalo Youth for Climate Justice

 Students from the University at Buffalo

Burmese Family from Buffalo

Buffalo Women for the Planet and a System Change
~   ~   ~

We traveled via the Metro Rail to the Capitol area where groups were assembling in preparation for the march.

Below is the front line of the Sierra Club group. 
Chapters from States around the U.S. were represented.

Leading the Sierra contingent is Aaron Mair, 
National President of the Sierra Club 

Earlier that morning, Aaron Mair was interviewed near the Capitol about the march. He said: 
“We're rising up to save our planet, but more importantly to offer solutions. This is not just a rise up for the sake of rising up. But it's a rise up to save our democracy. Because at the end of day, there's no planet B and there's no second leader. Our country was the world leader when it came to climate change, and the world leader with climate solutions.”
A video of that interview can be viewed here.

David and his son, Jason Kowalski, U.S. Policy Director 
at in D.C., met up at the march
Just days before the historic Peoples Climate mobilization, Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders introduced the ‘100 by ‘50 Act’, a piece of legislation that calls for 100% clean energy by 2050. While recognizing the legislation likely won’t move under the Trump administration, the Senators and their supporters view this as a ‘roadmap for America.’

Days after the march, Jason Kowalski commented at “If this type of visionary legislation can be introduced at the federal level under the Trump administration, there’s no excuse left for officials at the city and state level. At the Peoples Climate March, we put forward this vision nationally. Now we’ll hold every elected official accountable — no one is off the hook.”

By working at the local and regional level, communities will organize for powerful and lasting change, forcing elected officials to choose a side: that of Trump and his fossil fuel billionaire cabinet, or that of the people fighting for a stable climate and an economy that works for everyone.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Over 200,000 Participated in the People's Climate March in Washington D.C.

 Images of the Massive Climate March in Washington D.C. on April 29, 2017

Tens of Thousands Marched in 370 Cities across the U.S.

By David Kowalski

Over 200,000 people marched in Washington calling on the president to curb global warming that's contributing to polar ice melting, sea-level rise, and extreme weather, including extended droughts and unprecedented floods.

In line with established climate science and the Paris Climate Accords, an informed public as well as smart business leaders around the world seek a managed and justice-based power shift from dirty fossil fuels, which are polluting and heating the planet, to clean renewable energy sources, like wind, water and the sun.

An emerging clean energy economy that maximizes energy efficiency and minimizes waste and pollution will create well-paying jobs in every state for displaced fossil fuel workers and for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds.

Two photos below show portions of the Climate March in the 
streets of Washington near the Capitol and the White House.

[Click image to enlarge]

[Click image to enlarge]

Below are photos of a closer views of 
isolated parts of the crowd in the street.  
 [Click any image to enlarge]

The photo below was taken at the Chicago Climate March.

To see photos taken at Climate Marches in other cities across the U.S., 
visit HuffingtonPost

The photos shown here are from albums posted at
Peoples Climate Movement