Building on the Green Economy of New York

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

The State of New York has launched a major initiative to attract jobs and economic growth by building on the core elements of the green economy and addressing climate related vulnerabilities made painfully evident during Hurricane Sandy.

State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo outlined the plan in his 2013 State of the State Address last week.

'New York is on its way, coming back stronger than ever before, rising to meet some of the biggest challenges in our history, remaining as a progressive beacon of light to the rest of the nation, and standing out as a model of effective government,' said Governor Cuomo.

The new economic development program, which builds on the work of various Regional Economic Development Councils as well as partnerships with higher education facilities includes:

Easing Technology Transfers

To accelerate commercialization of good ideas and the creation of new businesses to take them to market the Governor proposed: 

Innovation Hot Spots: Ten higher education/private sector high-tech incubators will be selected as 'Hot Spots' through a competitive process that fosters innovation by offering inventors and entrepreneurs support to grow their businesses and to be part of a tax-free zone, where start-ups will not be subject to business, real property, and sales taxes, to encourage business growth in New York State

Innovation NY Network: Creating the Innovation NY Network to build collaboration among academics, venture capitalists, business leaders, patent lawyers and other professionals and entrepreneurs to facilitate and grow the commercialization process.

Innovation Venture Capital Fund:A $50 million Innovation Venture Capital Fund to provide incentives for successful start-ups to stay in the state by helping entrepreneurs make the transition from research and other ideas through prototyping and ultimately to the creation of marketable products.

To make New York the Leader in the Clean Tech Economy, the Governor announced:

NY Green Bank: The $1 billion Green Bank will leverage public dollars with a private sector match to spur the clean economy.

Extend NY-Sun Solar Jobs: The program will be expanded at $150 million annually for 10 years to increase solar panel installations for homes and businesses.

Charge NY Program: The Charge NY Program will invest in an electric car network to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by installing a statewide network of charging stations and providing charging infrastructure tax credits.

Cabinet-Level Energy Czar: To coordinate the state's clean-tech agenda and oversee the state government's energy portfolio, the Governor has named Richard Kauffman, a senior advisor to the nation's Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, to serve as a member of the Cabinet as the 'Energy Czar.'

Preparing the Workforce of Today and Tomorrow:

To retool New York's workforce to be prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow, the Governor proposed steps to reimagine the State University of New York (SUNY) and City of New York (CUNY) community colleges to ensure the state's job training programs produce the trained personnel that businesses need.

The Governor outlined a Next Generation Job Linkage Program that will link community colleges with employers to identify the job, to define the skill, and to provide the training for it. The state will pay for performance by funding colleges based on student job placement.

Responding to the Environmental Crisis

The Governor noted that in the past two years New Yorkers had witnessed firsthand the destructive force of three powerful storms that crippled the state: Irene, Lee and most recently Sandy. Each has taken an immeasurable toll on communities, he noted. 'Precious lives have been lost, and homes and businesses destroyed. Extreme weather is the new normal,' he said.

The Governor outlined a series of proposals for the state to fortify and upgrade the systems that could paralyze the economy when they fail during an emergency, as well as to tackle the reality of a changing climate. These proposals draw from the work of four commissions that the Governor announced in November: NYS Respond, NYS Ready, NYS 2100 and the Moreland Commission on utility storm preparedness and response. The proposed measures include:

Lower the Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap: Nine states including New York participate in the CO2 cap and trade program. The current cap is 165 million tons of CO2 and is well above the current emissions level of 91 million tons of CO2. As CO2 emissions have declined over 30% since the cap was established, the Governor proposed lowering the cap on CO2 emissions to a level that guarantees we will reduce emissions below current levels.

Increase Alternative Local Renewable Power Sources:To reduce dependence on centralized power plants and avoid outages, the Governor proposed increasing the use of alternative local power (distributed generation of electricity) using renewable sources, natural gas, and energy storage.

Ensure a Skilled Energy Workforce:To address a lack of young members of the workforce with skills in the energy sector, the Governor announced that the State will enhance efforts in workforce training by expanding energy career training and placement programs and promoting awareness of the need for skilled energy workers.

Improve the Resilience of Buildings:The Governor proposed updating the State Building Code to promote smarter, resilient building performance, as well as increased survivability. These changes would impact new construction and major renovations to existing construction, and would take into account the impact on different geographies and building types and consider factors such as effectiveness for protecting health and safety, as well as cost.

Provide Assistance to Property Owners to Mitigate or Sell Properties in Vulnerable Areas:The Governor announced that the state will use various strategies to assist home and business owners whose properties were damaged in Hurricane Sandy to mitigate for the future or, if they choose to do so, to sell their properties and relocate.

Ensure that Healthcare Facilities are Resilient:The Governor proposed to update the Department of Health's review of applications for new and substantial expansion of hospitals and nursing homes to consider location and infrastructure vulnerabilities. Under the proposal, healthcare facility applicants would be required to address the risks associated with being in a vulnerable location.

Harden Infrastructure:

The Governor outlined a series of proposals designed to harden New York's infrastructure to better withstand future major storms and natural disasters.

Toward a More Resilient New York Harbor:To build a more resilient Harbor, a long-term strategy will need to be developed that includes conserving and rebuilding natural systems that were lost to centuries of man-made activity, plus the building of additional barriers where needed. The state will work with other government partners to timely complete a comprehensive engineering evaluation of proposals, including potential barrier systems.

Harden the Subway System: Flood-proof subways and bus depots with vertical roll-down doors, vent closures, inflatable bladders, and upsized fixed pumps (with back-up power sources) are all options to harden New York's subway system.

Harden Fuel Delivery System:Redundancies must be built into the fuel system, and generators and pumping systems must be readily deployable. The Governor proposed that gas stations in strategic locations be required to have on-site back-up power capacity to protect New Yorkers from temporary disruptions in fuel supply.

Harden Utilities: The Public Service Commission will require utilities to submit detailed implementation plans to harden their facilities, including raising substation walls and elevating transformer installations.

Strengthen Wastewater Infrastructure: Flooding and storm surges from Lee, Irene, and Sandy resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to waste water treatment plants and the release of hundreds of millions of gallons of raw and undertreated sewage. To prevent a repeat of this scenario in the short-term, the existing wastewater treatment plants need to be repaired and mitigated to withstand higher flood levels.

Redesign the Power System

Noting the critical failures of the State energy system that kept many New Yorkers without power for days after Hurricane Sandy, the Governor saidthe electrical power grid and the structures that control it must undergo a fundamental redesign that improves performances and protects ratepayers.

Strengthen Public Service Commission's Regulatory and Enforcement Oversight: Based on the Moreland Commission's recommendations, the Governor proposed giving the Public Service Commission the regulatory and enforcement teeth it needs to improve oversight and regulation of the state's utilities.

Abolish the Long Island Power Authority: Hurricane Sandy revealed systemic flaws and weaknesses in LIPA's structure. As recommended by the Moreland Commission, the Governor proposed privatizing Long Island service which will be overseen by a newly empowered PSC.

The core elements of the new economic strategy are the same critical areas stressed in research conducted by GLOBE Advisors on building the green economy: a focus on technology, facilitating technology transfer, expedited commercialization of innovative technologies, building on the education and training of a new generation of workers, investing in green biulding and energy efficiency, and strengthening the sustainability of urban infrastructure.

See the various studies recently undertaken by GLOBE Advisors on the green economy here

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