NEWS RELEASE: The Pace Energy and Climate Center Received Award for Work on Clean Energy and Sustainability

For its work as a “tireless advocate” for clean energy, the Pace Energy and Climate Center received the Outstanding Outreach Partner Award from the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) at its annual meeting in Albany this afternoon.

Receives Outstanding Outreach Partner Award at ACE NY Annual Meeting

WHITE PLAINS, NY, October 28, 2010 – For its work as a “tireless advocate” for clean energy, the Pace Energy and Climate Center received the Outstanding Outreach Partner Award from the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) at its annual meeting in Albany this afternoon.  Presented by ACE NY’s Executive Director, Carol Murphy, this award recognizes exemplary leadership and outstanding work done on behalf of clean energy and sustainability in New York State. She praised Pace’s “dedicated efforts at the Legislature, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), and other state agencies and regulatory bodies, which help further positive policy developments for clean energy technologies.”

The Outstanding Outreach Partner Award is given to the individual, company or organization deemed most helpful in promoting the goals of ACE NY and sustainable energy through activities such as membership outreach, participation in public affairs and advocacy efforts, and government affairs.

“We are very pleased to receive this award, and to be recognized for our work in Albany promoting a clean energy agenda in New York State,” said Jamie Van Nostrand, executive director of the Energy and Climate Center. 

The Center’s work for alternative energy solutions in New York State includes:

  • Ensuring that the State meets its “15 by 15” energy efficiency target (achieving a 15 percent reduction in projected energy usage by 2015) through involvement in proceedings at the Public Service Commission;
  • Promoting solar energy in New York by proposing enactment of a target of 5000 MW of solar power capacity by 2025;
  • Representing environmental interests on the various stakeholder committees at the NYISO; and
  • Promoting demand response and energy efficiency as a means of avoiding investments in additional generating capacity.

 “These are critical times for laying the foundation of New York’s energy future, and we have made a significant investment in our Albany presence to advance a clean energy agenda focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Van Nostrand, adding, “It is gratifying to have these efforts recognized by ACE NY.”

The Center opened a full-time office in Albany in January 2010, and hired Jackson Morris as its senior policy advisor to work on legislative issues and to interact with key state agencies and other organizations involved in energy issues. These include the Public Service Commission, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the NYISO.  According to Van Nostrand, “this award is due largely to Jackson’s tireless efforts in Albany,” with assistance from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which provided valuable support for the opening of the Albany office.  Van Nostrand also noted the contributions of Dr. Laurence DeWitt and Sam Swanson in providing assistance to Jackson’s efforts in Albany.

Van Nostrand indicated that Pace will continue to collaborate with ACE NY in the future in order to further our collective goals.  “As we welcome a new administration in Albany in 2011, it will be essential that we continue building on our important relationship with ACE NY and other key players in the energy and environmental community,” Van Nostrand stated.

ACE NY is a nonprofit organization coalition dedicated to promoting clean energy, energy efficiency, a healthy environment, and a strong economy for New York State.  Its mission is to promote the use of clean, renewable electricity technologies and energy efficiency in New York State, in order to increase energy diversity and security, boost economic development, improve public health, and reduce air pollution.

The Pace Energy and Climate Center is an integral part of Pace Law School’s Environmental Law Program, which is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law.  For over 20 years, the Energy and Climate Center has been a leading multi-disciplinary organization in the areas of environmental research and advocacy on energy issues in New York and throughout the Northeast, while training law students in these areas.

Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world, and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top four programs in environmental law. On its White Plains, NY, campus, it offers JD programs and the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, including the nation’s first graduate level programs in Climate Change and Land Use and Sustainable Development, and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu.

Contact: Cathy Lewis, Director of Marketing & Communications, (914) 422-4128                                                              cdreilinger@law.pace.edu

Pace Energy and Climate Center Releases Study on Impact of July 2006 Con Edison Power Outage in Western Queens

In July of 2006, the lights went out in western Queens in an extended electrical outage that continued over nine days. Everyone knows that a power outage is inconvenient; but a new study released by the Pace Energy and Climate Center reveals in specific detail just how severe the consequences can be, particularly if the outage occurs during a summer heat wave.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PACE ENERGY AND CLIMATE CENTER RELEASES STUDY ON IMPACT OF JULY 2006 CON EDISON POWER OUTAGE IN WESTERN QUEENS

Findings reflect issues other cities may face if systems fail

Commentators call for change in reimbursement law

WHITE PLAINS, NY, July 16, 2010 – Four years ago tomorrow, the lights went out in western Queens in an extended electrical outage that continued over nine days.

Everyone knows a power outage is inconvenient; but a new study reveals in specific detail just how severe the consequences can be, particularly during a summer heat wave.

Earlier this year, the Pace Energy and Climate Center (Pace) and partnering organizations released the findings of a comprehensive study of the July 2006 electrical outages in Consolidated Edison’s Long Island City network.  The survey is the first to measure both the economic and health impacts associated with extended electrical outages.

Settlement

The 2006 outage occurred from July 17 through July 25, and affected about 174,000 people in Western Queens (Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, and Astoria).  Following the outage, the New York State Public Service Commission, the state administrative agency that regulates New York’s investor-owned energy utilities, conducted a review of the events in a “prudence” investigation.  After extensive settlement discussions, the active parties in that proceeding (including Con Edison, staff of the Department of Public Service, New York State Consumer Protection Board, the City Of New York, NYS Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, the Public Utility Law Project, and Western Queens Power for the People, a community group formed by residents of affected areas to seek restitution from the damage) reached agreement on a settlement that was approved by the PSC in July 2008.

As part of the agreement, Con Edison agreed to pay up to $500,000 to cover the costs of the study. The findings included:

  • Total outage-related losses were about $188 million, including losses of about $77 million incurred by residential customers and $111 million by business customers.
  • The major categories of losses for residential customers included spoiled food ($21.5 million), health and medical-related expenses ($7.3 million), housing-related costs ($19 million), and personal expenses like extra commuting time, dining out and lost wages ($29 million).
  • For residential customers, Con Edison provided reimbursement of about $12 million, leaving $65 million in net losses.
  • The $111 million in losses incurred by business customers includes $55.5 million in lost revenue.  Con Edison provided reimbursement of about $5 million of the direct losses, leaving about $106 million in net losses for these customers.
  • In assessing possible disparities in the impacts of the power outage (including areas that may have been more acutely affected and certain groups or individuals who did not receive reimbursements from Con Edison), the study concluded that there were no significant differences in the impact of the outage and the level of reimbursement for the various demographic subgroups.

“Our study puts some numbers and personal testimony on how the loss of power adversely affects the daily lives of customers and businesses in an entire urban community,” Jamie Van Nostrand, the Executive Director of the Energy and Climate Center and manager of the study said.

“The kind of data utility companies compile do not capture the economic and health impacts that customers experience during an extended power outage,” he added.

Reimbursements

“This study shows that Con Edison reimbursement rates are inadequate,” said Patrick Barnhart on behalf of Western Queens Power for the People.  “Power outages impose costs on affected communities that are millions of dollars more than are repaid, even after a lengthy public PSC investigation like the one we participated in.”

He said: “New York State laws and regulations need to be brought up to date to include the higher reimbursement rates that reflect the real costs of a power outage and the real costs of restitution to those who are affected by it.  This study provides state legislators, elected officials and regulators with the evidence they need to make those urgently needed changes.”

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky stated, “I am proud of the administrative proceeding we brought to hold Con Edison accountable for its decisions leading up to the 2006 power outage in Queens.  It was critical that Con Edison be held accountable for its negligent actions that brought unnecessary suffering and economic harm to residents and businesses.”

Survey methods

Pace partnered on customer surveys and data gathering with LaGuardia Community College, which has significant ties to the businesses and residents of the neighborhoods in the Long Island City grid area. Pace also retained a bio-statistician and econometrician, Dr. Haftan Eckholdt, to develop the sampling methodology to make sure the study is statistically valid.  The project team surveyed 198 non-residential respondents (business owners or workers) and 1,993 residential respondents in face-to-face interviews, and conducted telephone interviews of 936 residential respondents.

One challenge, according to Van Nostrand, was providing a means to reflect some of the “intangible” impacts of the outage, such as the inconvenience and personal discomfort experienced due to the loss of lights and air conditioning during a summer heat wave.  “We attempted to capture that through open-ended questions in the survey,” said Van Nostrand, “which gave the survey participants the chance to share their experiences.  We included several narrative responses in the Final Report to reflect these ‘qualitative’ impacts.”

“Dead and Scary”

Here is one such narrative statement:

“I remember that during about the 2 weeks we used to refer to the bag of ice as your Sunnyside briefcase, and you’d come (home) through a city that was lit at night on your way home from work, and you’d get, you’d come around the corner of the number 7 train always hoping that your power would be back on.  I was living by myself at the time, so I couldn’t check in with my family.  And, I remember, just the sense of disappointment every night seeing that big field of darkness that was Sunnyside Gardens and walking back home in the dark; with the Con Ed crews were working on, all the time, but it was just, it was dispiriting getting off the subway every night and realizing that around you, the city had power and life was going on, and in our neighborhood everything was dead – and scary.”

The study also analyzed the health impacts of the outage, with hospitalizations and emergency room visits that were potentially heat-related classified by vulnerable age group, race, and ethnicity for each zip code. The vast majority of hospitalizations occurring during the outage were attributable to respiratory illnesses, and associated costs were nearly $500,000. In addition, the study examined transportation-related data, including bus service, subway ridership, traffic operations, and extra commuting costs.

A complete copy of the study is available at the Pace Energy and Climate Center website at http://web.pace.edu/page.cfm?doc_id=25292.

About the Pace Energy and Climate Center

The Pace Energy and Climate Center is an integral part of Pace Law School’s environmental law program, which U.S. News & World Report ranks as one of the nation’s top environmental law programs. For over 20 years, the Energy and Climate Center has been a leading multi-disciplinary organization in the areas of environmental research and advocacy on energy issues in New York and throughout the Northeast, while training law students in these areas.

Founded in 1976, Pace University School of Law has over 7,000 alumni throughout the country and the world and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top programs in environmental law. I t offers full- and part-time day and evening JD programs on its White Plains, NY, campus and offers the Master of Laws degree in Environmental Law, Sustainability Law and Comparative Legal Studies, and a Doctor of Laws in environmental law. The School of Law is part of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu.

Contacts:

For Pace:

Cara Cea
(914) 773-3312
ccea@pace.edu
Sammie Becker
(212) 346-1637
sbecker2@pace.edu
For Western Queens Power for the People:

Alyssa Bonilla
718-383-4769
tab4315@earthlink.net
Patrick Barnhart
(917) 549-2376
patrick.barnhart@gmail.com
Anne Eagan
(718) 482-0170
anneagan@speakeasy.net

For Assemblyman Brodsky:

Anna Pycior
Communications Director
(914) 345-0432

Pace Energy and Climate Center Receives $1.25 Million in Grants to Conduct Studies

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced that a team led by the Energy and Climate Center at Pace Law School will perform a $750,000 study to develop a state “roadmap” to increased use of biofuels.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jennifer Riekert (914) 422-4128 jriekert@law.pace.edu

Pace Energy and Climate Center Chosen to Prepare State “Roadmap” for Renewable Fuels

Pace-Led Team on Tight Deadline Includes Researchers from Cornell, SUNY, and Leading Energy and Environmental Consulting Firms

WHITE PLAINS, NY – The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced that a team led by the Energy and Climate Center at Pace Law School will perform a $750,000 study to develop a state “roadmap” to increased use of biofuels.

Intended to help guide state policy on renewable fuels, the roadmap was one of several recommendations from Governor David A Paterson’s Renewable Energy Task Force report issued in February, 2008. The project will include a study of sources of sustainable biomass feedstocks, the raw materials for biofuels.

It also will look at impacts that increased use of renewable fuels might have on economic development, energy supplies and diversity, the environment, and public health.

The roadmap is to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2009.

Agriculture and woody biomass. To conduct the study, the Pace Energy and Climate Center has assembled a team of the leading authorities on biofuels throughout the Northeast, including researchers from Cornell University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and from consulting firms on energy and environmental issues such as Energetics, Energy and Environmental Research Associates, and Antares Group. The coalition known as Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management as well as Cornell Cooperative Extension branches throughout New York State are also members of the Pace-led team.

The team includes experts in agriculture and woody biomass feedstock production, biofuel production processes, biofuel industry economics, economic development, environmental assessment, public outreach and participation, and related public policy development.

Biomass-based liquid fuels, or biofuels, potentially can play a large role in reducing the state’s emissions of greenhouse gases, which are a leading contributor to global warming.

Three state agencies – NYSERDA, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets – will oversee development of the renewable fuels roadmap.

Using agricultural and industrial capacity. James Van Nostrand, the energy and environmental lawyer who is executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center, said: “In the State of New York we are challenged to move away from reliance on fossil fuels to fulfill our energy needs. At the same time, we have a tremendous opportunity to use New York’s significant agricultural and industrial capacity to develop conventional and non-conventional, or advanced, biofuels for sale in-state and throughout the Northeast.”

He added, “The economic development potential is huge.”

The project team will be led by Zywia Wojnar, program manager of Science and Policy Partnerships at the Pace Energy and Climate Center, who has an extensive science and management background, including several years in private industry where she acquired broad-based expertise in diverse environmental areas.

Markets for biofuels. The 2007 federal Energy Independence and Security Act, enacted in December 2007, established a national Renewable Fuels Standard of 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels and 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2022.

“This could ensure large markets for biofuels well into the future,” Wojnar stated. “The biofuels roadmap will provide valuable guidance for New York policymakers to determine our role in fulfilling this national energy policy to reduce both our dependence on foreign oil and the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.”

Also on the project management team from the Pace Energy and Climate Center is Sam Swanson, Senior Policy Advisor. Swanson has over twenty years of experience in energy and environmental regulation, including several years in a senior policy position at the New York Public Service Commission on energy research and development issues.

Environmental law leadership. The Energy and Climate Center is an integral part of Pace Law School’s environmental law program, which regularly is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top environmental law programs. For over 20 years, the Energy and Climate Center has been a leading multi-disciplinary organization in the areas of environmental research and policy on energy issues in New York and throughout the Northeast, while training law students in these areas.

Founded in 1976, Pace University School of Law has nearly 6,700 alumni throughout the country and the world. It offers full- and part-time day and evening JD programs on its White Plains, NY, campus. The School also offers the Master of Laws in Environmental Law, Real Estate Law and in Comparative Legal Studies and an SJD in environmental law. The School of Law is part of a comprehensive, independent, and diversified University with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu