13 Jul

Business Leaders Applaud Denial of Permit for Seneca Lake Gas Storage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 13, 2018 
Contact: Bob Rossi, (607) 592-2222, bob@nyssbc.org

Business Leaders Applaud Denial of Permit for Seneca Lake Gas Storage

ALBANY, NY – In response to the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s denial of a draft permit for a proposed storage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the salt caverns along Seneca Lake, the New York Sustainable Business Council released a statement applauding the action. The following may be attributed Bob Rossi, Executive Director:

“Business coalitions are proving critical in challenging the on-going incursions of the fossil fuel industry in New York.  The Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition and Gas Free Seneca Business Coalition made a strong business case for rejecting the LPG proposal, which threatened the heart of the Finger Lakes wine and tourism industries.  We applaud the grassroots organizations, municipalities, and business leaders who stood strong these past years to defend the Finger Lakes. We thank Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Seggos for denying this permit and continuing to lead the transition from fossil fuels to renewables while protecting the people, environment, and economy of New York State.”

The business opposition to this LPG storage proposal dates back to 2015 including this letter to Governor Cuomo signed by business coalitions across the state.

The New York Sustainable Business Council (NYSBC) NewYorkSBC.org is an alliance of business organizations and businesses committed to advancing a vibrant, just, and sustainable economy in the state. The organization promotes strategies and policies designed to build strong local economies, prioritize investment and innovation in clean technologies from green chemistry to renewable energy, and advance the development of sustainable communities in New York State.

American Sustainable Business Council www.asbcouncil.org advocates for policy change and informs business owners, policymakers and the public about the need and opportunities for building a vibrant, sustainable economy. Through its national member network it represents more than 250,000 businesses and more than 325,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers and investors.

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21 Jun

NYSBC Featured on Public News Service Radio Stations across NYS

Following on tremendous advocacy for community solar and related policy by NYSBC business leaders and ally organizations this past legislative session, NYSBC executive director Bob Rossi was interviewed by Andrea Sears of New York News Connection and the resulting article was featured this week as the top story on their homepage.

Pasting the article below for your convenience but we encourage you to visit the original New York News Connection article here and listen to their 2-minute radio segment at the top with portions of the interview.  That segment was picked up by 66 stations with over four million New York State listeners in total.

Assembly Passes Bill to Help Community Solar     

Critics say the PSC's VDER plan has halted more than $800 million of investment in solar energy in upstate New York alone. (pxhere)
 
Critics say the PSC’s VDER plan has halted more than $800 million of investment in solar energy in upstate New York alone. (pxhere)

June 21, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York’s State Assembly voted earlier this week to restore net metering of community solar power. 

The bill would put the Public Service Commission’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources, or VDER, plan on hold for three years.

Net metering and VDER are methods of calculating compensation for smaller energy sources such as solar installations for the power they feed into the electric grid. 

Bob Rossi, executive director of the New York Sustainable Business Council, says restoring net metering will make solar power accessible to all New Yorkers, including almost half of state residents who rent their homes and can’t install solar panels on their property.

“It gives them access to the energy savings by joining a community solar farm, and under VDER it’s just not possible for most people,” he states.

The PSC says VDER was established to fix a flaw in the net metering system and to support the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy.

But according to Rossi, since the plan was rolled out last year, new solar installations have slowed significantly because VDER makes it difficult to calculate a long-term rate of return on the cost.

“Investors are wary of VDER because it’s a complex formula, it’s not transparent,” he states. “And it’s estimated that we’re looking at close to a billion dollars in lost investment in solar in New York state.”

Rossi says the slowdown in solar installations has also deferred the creation of more than 1,000 solar jobs in upstate New York alone.

Wednesday was officially the last day of the legislative session, and by news time the bill had not come up for a vote in the Senate. But Rossi says even if the Senate doesn’t act, there is another way to restore net metering.

“If the bill doesn’t go through, we are still looking to our governor and the Public Service Commission to find a solution,” he stresses.

The bill also calls on the PSC and Long Island Power Authority to create a fair and accurate way to compensate for distributed energy by 2021.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service – NY
20 Jun

Will New York Lawmakers See the (Sun) Light?

New York’s solar policy is causing a critical slowdown in development with dire consequences for small businesses, working class New Yorkers, and communities of color. The New York Sustainable Business Council (NYSBC), the American Sustainable Business Council’s affiliate in New York State, represents thousands of New York businesses that uphold high standards of environmental stewardship and social responsibility. WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a community-based organization located in Harlem, NYC, dedicated to helping low income communities of color thrive and access fair environmental conditions. Together, NYSBC and WE ACT speak for businesses and residents throughout New York State and have united in support for solar energy.

After years of healthy growth in New York’s solar industry, recent regulatory changes by the state Public Service Commission (PSC) have slowed the solar market. We need to act quickly and decisively to protect the solar industry with its 9,000 employees and ensure access to solar power for all New Yorkers.

Critical to this vision is the community solar model, which makes solar power accessible to anyone, including renters. Community solar panels can be located anywhere in the community, rather than requiring each household to put solar on their own property.

In 2015, Governor Cuomo and the PSC promised to make renewable energy available to everyone “regardless of zip code or income.” Unfortunately, this initiative has been overpowered by corporate utilities insisting that solar energy be valued based on its convenience for the existing grid.

This approach has resulted in a disastrous mechanism for valuing solar power called VDER (Value of Distributed Energy Resources). The VDER formula is unnecessarily complex, lacks transparency, and compensates solar energy at unfairly low rates. The solar industry estimates that they have cancelled hundreds of millions of dollars in projects as a result of VDER. Based on data from NYSERDA, solar investment in first quarter 2018 is down 73% compared to first quarter 2017.

WE ACT and NYSBC, along with community groups and businesses across the state, believe that renewable energy benefits the public, the environment, and the economy — and that the value of solar energy should reflect those benefits.

We object to the VDER policy from both a business perspective and a justice perspective. VDER has created market instability, which has deterred investment, has prevented developers from breaking ground, and will hinder the completion of existing projects. National solar installers are prioritizing other states because of finance challenges under VDER. In short, VDER is bad for business.

Stifling development of community solar also unjustly and disproportionately harms low income people of color in New York. Without community solar, these predominantly renter communities are unable to benefit from lower energy costs or contribute to overall carbon reduction.

This holds true for small businesses as well, as they typically rent or lack adequate space for solar installation. Small businesses are the primary drivers of job growth in New York State and invest heavily in their local economies. VDER is failing this cornerstone of New York’s business community.

This situation can be remedied. A bill in the New York State Legislature that would pause VDER and create a transparent process for fixing it has the support of over 100 organizations, businesses, and municipalities. Governor Cuomo could also lead the way by ensuring that his regulatory agencies follow through on his promise that renewable energy would be available for all.

Our government, our prosperity, and our climate should not be subordinate to the needs of a monopolistic utility. We call on all New York State legislators and Governor Cuomo to work quickly to save community solar, protect renewable energy jobs, and ensure that all residents and businesses can benefit from clean energy.

Bob Rossi, Executive Director of the New York Sustainable Business Council (NYSBC), the American Sustainable Business Council’s affiliate in New York State.

Stephan Roundtree Jr., Environmental Policy and Advocacy Coordinator of WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT).

21 May

Online Lunch & Learn: Your Path to a Healthy Business

Reduce hazardous chemicals to protect your customers and staff

We invite you to join us for lunchtime webinars on reducing hazardous chemicals when choosing cleaning products, food packaging and foodware. These decisions impact the health of your customers, your staff, and the integrity of your brand.

Scroll below for details on both webinars including speaker bios.

Wednesday, May 23rd 12pm-1pm: Clean without Harm
Cleaning products in your place of business likely contain chemicals that are hazardous to your employees, your customers, and yourself. Join us for an in-depth webinar on which chemicals to avoid and why. Experts will provide case studies, purchasing strategies, and business resources to help you make the right choices to safeguard your community and environment.

REGISTER NOW 

Speakers
Bobbi Wilding
Deputy Director, Clean and Healthy New York
Bobbi has two decades of experience as an environmental health advocate. She has authored and co-authored numerous reports and guides including “Selling Safer Products” and organized the NYS Healthy Economy and Environment Conference of 2011.

Bob Rossi
Executive Director, New York Sustainable Business Council
Bob has been involved in business startups in software, manufacturing, and green building. Bob has also helped launch several nonprofits and currently owns and operates a coworking space and social enterprise incubator in Upstate New York.

 

“This workshop gave me a deeper understanding of the public health impacts of ‘chemicals of concern’ in commerce today and the importance of business leadership. I was very impressed with the resources available to help businesses measure and reduce their chemical footprints. Excellent workshop!”
— Camille Cannistraci, Principal of CLC Consulting

Wednesday, May 30rd 12pm-1pm: Food Packaging & Foodware
While food is essential to our lives, how we process and package our food can endanger our health. Businesses must now adapt not only to protect their customers from these health hazards but also to navigate a changing marketplace and regulatory environment. Join us for an in-depth webinar on which materials to avoid, smart alternatives, and resources for growing your business.

REGISTER NOW 

Speakers

Rich Schiafo
Campaign Coordinator, Clean and Healthy New York
Rich Schiafo has three decades of experience as an environmental professional including more recently watershed protection, materials management with a focus on organics, and the Reducing Chemicals of Concern in Products in NY State policy campaign.

Hilary Baum
Program Director, New York Sustainable Business Council
Hilary has produced educational programs and public awareness campaigns focused on food, farming, and sustainability. Her background includes artisan food production, restaurant procurement, farmers’ market operations, and community supported agriculture.

This workshop is part of Business Leadership on Safer Materials, a program of the New York Sustainable Business Council in collaboration with Clean & Healthy New York, American Sustainable Business Council, and NYS Pollution Prevention Institute. Funding provided by the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute through a grant from the Environmental Protection Fund as administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Any opinions, findings, and/or interpretations of data contained herein are the responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions, interpretations or policy of Rochester Institute of Technology and its NYS Pollution Prevention Institute or the State.

19 Apr

NYSBC’s 2018 Priority Issue Areas

Based on feedback from our members and our ongoing work, we have identified a broad array of bills in the NYS legislature in need of your support. These bills can be grouped into the following 4 issue areas: Healthcare, Toxic Chemicals, Solar Energy, and Fossil Fuels.

On April 25th, 10am – 4pm, we will be convening business leaders in Albany for our 5th annual NY Sustainable Business Summit, where will will speak with policymakers on these issues.  (more information and registration for our 2018 Summit)

HEALTHCARE
Arguably the most transformative bill on our docket is the NY Health Act, which — if passed — would establish a comprehensive single-payer system of access to health insurance and would replace private insurance company coverage in NYS.  For small businesses, startups, and low margin sectors, this means eliminating the bureaucratic maze and high costs of buying health coverage for employees. We believe it would make New York dramatically more attractive to businesses looking to relocate. and their future employees.  The NY Health Act gained steam last year as our federal healthcare system was under fire, and your business voice can help push it across the finish line this legislative session.

TOXIC CHEMICALS
On a related note, we have identified bills that would reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals. The Toxic Show & Tell act is a powerful bill with a playful name that creates an important framework for addressing this issue.  The State would maintain a list of chemicals of high concern to children and require product makers to disclose their presence in children’s products sold in NYS. We believe smarter chemical regulations will drive green technology innovation, and transparency throughout the supply chain is good for business as it will allow our product makers and retailers — and their customers — to make informed decisions. We will educate Summit attendees and lawmakers on additional bills including the Drug Take Back Act which calls for a statewide program paid for by pharmaceutical manufacturers to manage the disposal of their products and reduce their contamination of NYS waters.

SOLAR ENERGY
After years of healthy growth in New York State’s solar industry, the corporate power utilities managed to erect a major barrier to solar in the form of the VDER regulation passed by New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) last year.  The rate of solar growth in NYS has since been declining. This barrier hurts our NYS solar installers and blocks you and your business in particular from the community solar opportunities that would otherwise be more abundant and accessible today.  Between now (as I type this email) and our Summit, we expect a bill to be introduced that would delay the rollout of VDER statewide for 3 years and direct the PSC to fix these problems with the VDER regulation during that time. It gets more complicated, of course, so expect a thorough breakdown at the Summit.  In addition, we are supporting a bill that would extend for 2 years the New York City solar property tax abatement, which sunsets at the end of this year. These 2 bills would provide the much-needed boost for the NYS solar industry and would benefit all New Yorkers and New York State businesses seeking to source their power from the sun.

FOSSIL FUELS
And while our planet basks in sunlight, NYS’s pension fund (3rd largest in the nation) invests more than $5 billion in fossil fuels — orders of magnitude greater than investments in renewables.  In response, we support the Fossil Fuel Divestment bill that would immediately stop new investments in fossil fuel companies and transition current investments within 5 years with coal investments being dropped in year one. With the growing riskiness of fossil fuel investments, this transition makes good economic sense.  Although the bill doesn’t specify where the $5 billion should be reinvested, we aim to highlight that the clean energy sector is growing at nearly double the rate of the overall economy. Also, clean energy investment creates three times as many jobs as the equivalent investment in fossil fuels, so New York has a genuine opportunity to invest in New York’s clean energy businesses to ensure their success, growth, and ability to employ more and more New Yorkers.