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Business Voice for the Environment
April 1, 2013
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E2 Member and Beloved Friend
Legislators need to hear business voice for clean energy, says E2 member
March 20, 2013 San Francisco Event
E2 Galvanizes Support for Bold Transportation Plan
Massachusetts hosts EV Roundtable
Diversifying Fuel Sources in Oregon
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Earlier this month, we lost a member of our E2 family, John Neu. John was a true "environmental entrepreneur" who built one of the world's leading recycling businesses and demonstrated how to run a highly profitable business on sound environmental principles. He was a philanthropist who contributed his intellect, energy and time, as well as generous funds, to the many causes he supported. He was a constant presence at E2 New York events, where his beloved wife Wendy is a chapter director. We will miss him deeply.

Read about John in articles from Forbes and PBS.
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Jacob Susman  
The debate on energy policy continues  
In 2007, E2 member Jacob Susman invested his personal savings in his new wind energy business. Since then, Susman's company, OwnEnergy, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., has grown into a successful business that's developed and sold three separate wind energy projects, with more in the pipeline.

One of Susman's completed projects is the Patton Wind Farm. Located about a two-hour drive east of Pittsburgh, the 30-megawatt project was developed on land that's been farmed by the same Pennsylvania family for six generations. Capable of generating enough electricity to power about 9,000 homes, the Patton Wind Farm is testament to America's fast-growing wind industry. It's also located in a state that in 2004 enacted a renewable portfolio standard.

Pennsylvania's standard calls for electric utilities to supply 18 percent of their energy from alternative sources by 2020. Recently, however, market-driven renewable energy standards in Pennsylvania and other states have been under attack. Often these attacks originate from groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a conservative think-tank founded in Chicago 30 years ago.

Susman said renewable portfolio standards are worth defending. He said the standards have helped grow the U.S. wind energy industry, a position that's shared by economists and policy experts.

"At this stage, we're now up to 60 gigawatts of wind energy nationwide," Susman said. "Four percent of our nation gets it electricity by wind power. Last year there were more new wind power plants than any other kind of new power plant, by megawatts, and there was more new wind capacity in the U.S. than in any other country.

"None of that would be happening if we didn't have 29 states with renewable portfolio standards in place," Susman said.

More than 2,000 state legislators from all 50 states are ALEC members. One of the ways ALEC is working to weaken state renewable portfolio standards is to author model legislation. Titled the "Electricity Freedom Act," model legislation designed to repeal the standards includes language stating that the standards harm the economy.

ALEC's model legislation states "no state or nation has enhanced economic opportunities for its citizens or increased Gross Domestic Product through renewable energy standards." The legislation continues: "…. due to the renewable energy mandate a tremendous amount of economic growth is sacrificed for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that would have no appreciable impact on global concentrations of greenhouse gases."

Every year, close to 1,000 bills based at least in part on model ALEC legislation are introduced in various states. Of these, an average of 20 percent, or about 200 bills, become law, according to ALEC. The Wall Street Journal reported that bills to scale back state renewable portfolio standards have been introduced in at least 14 states.

One of those states is North Carolina. On March 13, Rep. Mike Hager, an ALEC member and chair of North Carolina's Public Utilities Committee, introduced House Bill 298, or the "Affordable and Reliable Energy Act." Though not written with language matching ALEC's model legislation, the bill would halt further implementation of North Carolina's renewable energy portfolio standards, which in 2007 passed with strong bipartisan support. These standards have helped grow job opportunities in North Carolina's clean energy and clean transportation sectors, E2 found.

As the Washington Post reported last November, ALEC supports its repeal efforts by citing economic analyses of state renewable energy policies co-published by Suffolk University's Beacon Hill Institute and the State Policy Network. These analyses have been widely discredited. Critics of the reports say they inflate the cost of renewable energy; reduce the cost of competing fossil fuels; discount the value of energy efficiency; and ignore the positive net economic benefits renewable energy delivers to communities.

Susman thinks rolling back renewable energy standards is a step in the wrong direction. He said arguments put forward by ALEC and other organizations sound like they come from "people who fear the future."

With its strong hedge value of locking in long-term costs instead of floating on the price of natural gas, wind has become an important and accepted part of the U.S. energy mix, Susman said. In Pennsylvania, Patton Wind Farm created about 100 construction jobs. Over the next 20 years, it will generate $8 million in income for participating landowners and neighbors.

Susman said he feels empowered to push back against ALEC. He said doing something as simple as picking up the phone to articulate a business voice to legislators can sometimes be enough to make the difference.

"You'd be amazed how much those one-off calls, even in this sea of constituents and policymakers, can help move the needle," he said.
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Nicole Lederer and Brigadier General
Coglianese
 
The State of California and the U.S. Military are two of the world’s most formidable powers - and they are both committed to clean energy.
 
As California strives to meet the carbon emission reductions mandated under the Global Warming Bill, and as the military seeks to untether itself from dependence on fossil fuel, these two goliaths have converged on one agenda, creating enormous opportunities for economic growth.

Last month, E2 was joined by CA Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, CA State Senator Fran Pavley, and Brigadier General Vincent A. Coglianese, Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West, to talk about about the promise of clean energy and national security.

Chair Mary Nichols started off the night, reviewing the successes of AB32. Mary made the point that investment - not necessarily technology - is the biggest hurdle to clean tech, and policy certainty is critical for promoting that investment. Mary concluded by talking about the importance of the military as a key market driver for clean energy. (See KQED's coverage of Mary's comments here.)

Senator Fran Pavley continued by discussing the successes of E2 over the past 12 years. Fran talked about the importance of having a business voice such as E2 continue to weigh in on these issues and help shape policy that satisfies both environmental and economic requirements. Looking ahead, strong leadership from businesses and the military will have a strong impact on strengthening California's leadership position in alternative energy.

Brigadier General Vincent A. Coglianese concluded the night by bringing a military perspective to this topic. Our Marines are critically reliant on fuel, batteries, and water to support their warfighting ability. Energy security is a non-negotiable requirment abroad and at home, and this is the source of military interest in alternative energy and efficiency. In the field, efficiency and renewables allows you to fight longer with lower supply line burdens. At home, bases must be able to mitigate against grid disruptions to ensure continued operating capacity in times of crisis. 

More information about E2's support of DOD efforts may be found here.

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E2 Chapter Directors Tim Sexton, Jon Foster, Laura Berland-Shane, and Dave Rosenheim
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Sen. Pavley, Bob Epstein, and Chair Nichols
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Guest and Members at the Marines Memorial Club, SF
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MA business taxes in context of the rest of the nation  
The problem: how to fix a broken system
The Massachusetts' transportation system is crumbling and in disrepair -- endangering safety, the economy and our quality of life. The system has a crushing burden of debt with insufficient revenue to even maintain its current condition.  Nearly half of all bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.[1]  Our roads ranked 45th worst out of 50 states in 2010.[2]  Many MBTA vehicles dating from the 1970s and 80s are well beyond their useful life and must be replaced.  A typical driver in greater Boston spends 47 hours per year sitting in traffic. 

Governor Patrick has proposed a plan to raise $1.16 billion in new revenue to fund the debt; bring our roads and bridges to a state of good repair; update, modernize and expand our mass transit; and prepare for future capacity increases.   As the Massachusetts legislature considers its options, E2, working in conjunction with the T4Mass coalition, has mobilized E2 members in support of the Governor's plan. We have held meetings at the State House, sent an E2 letter  and fact sheet that was hand delivered to every member of the legislature; organized a phone campaign; and attended multiple meetings and hearings. Please use this link to contact your Massachusetts' state legislators and register your support for fully funding our transportation system. 

Fully funding transportation will NOT create an undue tax burden
In FY2011 Massachusetts' combined state and local business tax level ranked 40th lowest in the nation and our overall tax rate is below the national average[3]. Our taxes have declined 26% since 1977 – the 2nd largest decline of any state in the union.  In fact, cuts to the Massachusetts income tax in 1998 have reduced annual state revenue by ~$3 billion a year. 

Even after raising the required revenue, our tax rates would remain competitive with other states such as NY, NJ, CT, and CA. 

Transportation improvements are essential to reducing GHG pollution
In 2008, Massachusetts passed the Global Warming Solutions Act that requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.  Transportation is the largest and fastest growing emissions sector and accounts for 36% of the state's GHG emissions. Under the business as usual scenario, increases from transportation will wipe out all of the reductions from commercial and industrial energy efficiency. Without reductions in the transportation sector we will fail to meet our goals.

Reform is having an impact – but it is not enough
In 2009, the legislature passed a transportation reform bill that streamlined the transportation bureaucracy; combined separate agencies under the single authority of the Department of Transportation (MassDOT); eliminated overly generous benefits; and improved the credit rating of the transit agencies.  Later as a result of continuing shortfalls, transit agencies raised fares and reduced service to save money. As a result, reforms undertaken by MassDOT over the last three years have already saved more than $500 million.

A crushing level of debt
Transportation funding has been ignored for decades in the Commonwealth– paid for with high cost borrowing, quick fixes and accounting gimmicks. A 2007 bi-partisan Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission found $15 to $19 billion funding gap over the next 20 years.[4]  The Governor's has requested $1.16B per year for the next 10 years. This represents the true cost of reducing our debt, bringing our statewide infrastructure into a "state of good repair" and accommodating increased capacity to ensure that our state's economy will continue to thrive.

Massachusetts has the highest percentage of transportation debt of any state in the union.[5]  In FY2012, 45% of the combined budgets of MassDOT and the MBTA budgets went to pay off debt, not to operate and maintain current systems, let alone expand them.  We are borrowing just to pay operating expenses. For every dollar spent, taxpayers will repay $1.76. Our children and grandchildren will pay for today's expenses.  A recent report[6] finds that failure to keep our state's highways in a state of good repair will cost the state between $17B and $26B dollars by 2030.  

Public transit fuels economic growth
Public transit plays an important role in making the state economically competitive by easing traffic congestion, providing convenient travel alternatives, contributing to cleaner air and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Absent the ability to reliably move large numbers of specialized skilled labor within the urban economy on a daily basis such as that provided by public transit, Boston‘s economic potential is constrained. At a minimum, we support the following projects:

(1) Fix the South Station bottleneck
Boston South Station, the premier passenger rail hub in New England, has become a major bottleneck that is slowing service throughout the Northeast Corridor and beyond.  When South Station opened in 1899, it had 28 tracks. Today, with only 13 tracks, trains idle outside the station while they wait for other trains to vacate berths, causing maddening delays. South Station serves commuters and travelers on Amtrak, the MBTA Commuter Rail service, intercity bus systems, MBTA rapid transit, and MBTA bus rapid transit services, including direct service to Boston Logan International Airport.  At present, South Station operates well above its design capacity for efficient train operations and orderly passenger queuing, significantly constraining current and future rail mobility not only within Massachusetts but throughout New England.

(2) Extend the Green Line to underserved communities
This long delayed project will extend the MBTA Green Line from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. It will greatly improve local and regional mobility; address longstanding transportation inequities; result in fewer automobiles on local roads; and help to combat greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. The Green Line Extension will also support municipal plans for sustainable growth while leveraging many millions in private investment and providing residents of environmental justice communities with faster rides to jobs and other destinations.

(3) Address transportation inequity by building the South Coast Rail project
The South Coast Rail project will restore passenger rail transportation from South Station in Boston to the South Coast of Massachusetts, catalyzing nearly half a billion dollars in economic development every year.  The cities of Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford are the only cities within 50 miles of Boston that are not served by commuter rail.  This project will address long-standing transportation inequity by extending MBTA service to a region of the Commonwealth – and particularly to two urban areas with large immigrant and low-income populations – currently under-served by the existing transportation network.  It will enable residents of the South Coast to access jobs and services in the Boston area and allow Boston-area workers to more easily take advantage of affordable housing in the South Coast.

Decisions will be made in the next few weeks.  We encourage all Massachusetts E2 members and supporters to contact their state legislators to register their support for fully funding our transportation system.  You can find their email address and phone number here. 


[1] Staying on Track, Northeastern University Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, November 2012; http://www.northeastern.edu/dukakiscenter/wp-content/uploads/Staying-on-Track-Plenary-Presentation-FINAL.pdf      

[2] Road Work Ahead: Holding Government Accountable for Fixing America's Crumbling Roads and Bridges; http://www.uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Road-Work-Ahead.pdf

[3] Massachusetts Budget and Policy center, http://www.massbudget.org/reports.php?category=ALL

[4] Transportation Finance in Massachusetts: Volume 2
Building a Sustainable Transportation Financing System: September 2007,
http://www.masstaxpayers.org/sites/masstaxpayers.org/files/MassTFC2.pdf             

[5] Maxed Out: Massachusetts Transportation At A Financing Crossroad; http://www.t4ma.org/site/wp-content/uploads/Maxed-Out.pdf   

[6] The Cost of Doing Nothing: The Economic Case for Transportation Investment In Massachusetts; January 2013; The Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership; http://www.tbf.org/~/media/TBFOrg/Files/Reports/CostofDoingNothing_r1.pdf        

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Charging an electric vehicle  
Massachusetts has concluded that electric vehicles will have to be part of the mix in achieving the state’s ambitious climate targets.  With that in mind, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in conjunction with Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and Environment Northeast (ENE) hosted a daylong conference on March 7 to discuss the current status of electric vehicle (EV) adoption in Massachusetts and to explore ideas to speed that adoption.

EVs role in meeting climate goals
Massachusetts has the legal obligation to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% by 2050.  Electricity sector emissions have been cut 40% since 2005, but vehicle travel continues to account for at least 35% of the state’s GHG emissions. EVs produce far fewer GHG emissions per mile than petroleum vehicles because generation of electricity is subject to RGGI caps, while vehicle petroleum use is not. The RGGI caps ensure that emissions from electricity generation will continue to be reduced and that renewables will continue to replace fossil fuels for electricity through at least 2020. Petroleum use is also responsible for other dangerous emissions such as NO2 and particulate matter (PM), which can cause serious health problems.  

Transition to EVs is potentially less difficult to achieve in the New England region than in other areas of the country because of the high population density, relatively high incomes, and short commutes.   The average commute in Massachusetts is 54 miles, and much shorter in the urban areas, allowing for potential economies of scale and convenience of access to charging stations.

Barriers to adoption
EV adoption has been hindered by a number of factors, especially the upfront costs. Even after the federal tax credit of $7,500, EVs are more expensive to purchase or lease than a comparable traditional vehicle.  Installation of charging equipment (if needed) is an additional expense.  Also, consumers lack familiarity with the technology, so they are unaware of its advantages.  

Sales are also held back by consumer fears regarding the length of charging times and the range between charges for all-electric models.  In fact, some EVs are currently capable of 300 miles between charges under ideal conditions, far more than is needed for the average commute.  Consumers also worry that charging stations are scarce and not conveniently located. Charging infrastructure is being developed, but is still limited, and sites such as multi-family buildings, densely populated urban neighborhoods and shopping districts present special difficulties.  

Benefits outweigh costs
EV owners save money on operating expenses.  Currently, the cost to drive an electric car 100 miles is $2.50 (25 kWh@ $0.10/kwh), while a gasoline car costs $16 to be driven the same distance (25 mpg @ $4/gal).  Maintenance costs are also much lower. In addition, EVs have better torque than fuel powered vehicles, so drivers experience better “pick-up”.  

The benefits of electricity for commercial fleets, especially as it replaces dirty diesel fuel, are high. However, despite lower operating and maintenance costs, the payback for a business purchasing EVs is quite long.  Special 3-phase power is required for charging, and the need to heat truck cabs for long periods of time without draining the battery needs to be addressed, perhaps with solar panels.  Thus, special incentive programs will need to be designed to encourage adoption.

Incentives can make the difference
Massachusetts is considering incentives including financial and convenience incentives such as being permitted to use the HOV lane and special parking preferences.  The state also plans to provide education and outreach initiatives, publicly available charging infrastructure, and reduced or no cost energy for charges.   Financial incentives under discussion include a rebate on EV purchases, a state income tax credit, sales and or excise tax exemptions, fast tracking of permitting for charger installations, and discounted electricity rates for charging the vehicles.  

Charging stations already up and running
There are currently 160 public charging sites available in Massachusetts and the MA Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has funded a program to provide charging stations at state office buildings and other community sites throughout Massachusetts.  DOER has signed MOUs with BMW and Nissan to support infrastructure development, and has brought in Clean Cities’ stakeholders as part of the process.  DOER is also working with the State licensing bureau, electricians, utilities, and with the National Fire Protection Association to develop standards and safety codes. The registry of motor vehicles is providing a special EV license plate and there are already several phone apps to help drivers find charging stations.

Utility rate structures currently stand in the way
Utility policy must be addressed to clarify who is permitted to charge for the electricity provided by privately owned charging stations.  Currently only utilities are permitted to do so.  When separate electric meters are required for EV charging, the costs can be prohibitive and discourage charger installation.  Permissible rates for private resellers may also need to be set.  Utility rate structures need to be examined to be sure they encourage EV use.  Rate structures set to charge more as usage increases, such as that in CA, discourage EV adoption. Impact on the grid of EV charging requirements and of various options for rate policy, such as reduced rates for off-peak charging, need to be studied.

The bottom line conclusion from the day’s event is that with proper policy initiatives, EVs have a bright future in Massachusetts.  

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The Oregon contingency of the Pacific Northwest chapter has been working diligently to lift the 2015 sunset from the Clean Fuels Program in their state.  Members Chris Dennett, Trevor Winnie, Bill Boyk and E2 staffer Mary Solecki took Salem by storm on February 28, visiting a whopping 17 offices in one day.

Separately, Oregon members penned three Letters to the Editor in strong support of the Clean Fuels Program, all published in the same day. One of them can be found online here. The Oregon Clean Fuels Program is the first replication of California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which will require a 10% reduction in carbon intensity over 10 years. If the Oregon legislation is approved, the program will begin reductions in 2015.
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Monday, June 17, 2019 (12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern)
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