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March 2011 Archives

March 1, 2011

RGGI Report Finds that RGGI States Are Using 78 Percent of Proceeds on Energy Programs

On February 28, 2011, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) released a report finding that the 10 northeastern states that comprise RGGI are spending 78 percent of the proceeds from carbon dioxide allowance auctions on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and programs to benefit energy consumers.

The report found that RGGI states have raised $789 million over the past two years from carbon dioxide allowance auctions, with $631 million going to various energy programs. According to the report, each RGGI state has its own plan for spending the auction proceeds, but 52 percent of overall proceeds are being used for energy efficiency programs.

The report found that 11 percent of proceeds are being used for renewable energy programs, 14 percent are being used to provide direct assistance to consumers for paying their energy bills, and 1 percent are being used for a variety of greenhouse gas reduction programs such as carbon sequestration and carbon emission abatement technologies.

According to the report, 17 percent of RGGI proceeds were used for budget deficit reduction in New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. The remaining 5 percent is being used for administrative expenses to run the program.

March 14, 2011

NYSERDA Announces that Green Homes/Green NY is Leading to Record Numbers of Energy Efficiency Retrofits

On March 10, 2011, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced that the numbers of New York State homeowners who completed energy efficiency retrofits reached all-time monthly records in both January and February 2011, through Green Jobs/Green NY.

Created by the New York State Legislature and launched November 15, 2010, Green Jobs/Green NY is expected to generate jobs in the state by stimulating investment in energy efficiency improvements for residential homes and businesses. It currently provides homeowners with free or reduced-cost comprehensive energy audits, and low-interest loans to finance these improvements. The program will be available to small commercial, not-for-profit and multifamily buildings in the coming months. For homeowners, energy efficiency audits and improvements take place through NYSERDA's Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.

According to NYSERDA, in January 2011, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR completed more than 800 retrofits, an all-time record for the program. In February 2011, more than 600 retrofits were completed, an all-time record for that month. Since free and reduced-cost energy audits were offered in November 2010, NYSERDA has received 4,141 applications. Of these, 3,294 residential customers were approved for free audits and 297 for reduced-cost audits. Ultimately, Green Jobs/Green NY will fund training for 6,000 workers. Free energy audits are being provided to individuals with incomes up to 200 percent of the Area Median Income, and reduced priced energy audits are available to households with incomes up to 400 percent of the Area Median Income.

Through Green Jobs/Green NY, the state has established a revolving loan fund for building owners who will be able to pay back loans from the savings on their energy bills. The unsecured residential loans are capped at $13,000 for a term of 5, 10 or 15 years and are offered at an initial interest rate of 3.99%, or 3.49% if the borrower signs up for automated monthly payments.

The Green Jobs-Green New York energy audit, loan and jobs training initiatives are funded with $112 million acquired by auctioning carbon emission credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The seed money from the RGGI fund, and from an $18.6 million grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy, will be used to leverage private investment.

March 16, 2011

New York City Releases Waterfront Plan

On March 14, 2011, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the release of a comprehensive waterfront and waterway sustainability plan, entitled "Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy," that seeks to make improvements in reducing water pollution, protecting wetlands, responding to climate change, and other environmental policy steps.

The plan is aimed at transforming the city's 520-mile shoreline with parks, industry, and housing and capitalizing on its waterways to promote waterborne transportation, recreation, maritime activity, and natural habitats. The plan has two parts: a three-year action agenda made up of 130 funded projects, including waterfront parks, esplanades, and commuter ferry service, and a "Vision 2000" framework for the next decade. According to the city, the 190-page waterfront plan was developed over the past year to meet a council legislative mandate.

The three-year agenda includes $1.6 billion in upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, $650 million in improvements to existing infrastructure for combined sewer overflows, $180 million in "green infrastructure" to improve stormwater runoff management, and $140 million to enhance drainage by land acquisition and storm sewer improvements. Water quality goals in the Vision 2020 plan include improving pathogen and dissolved oxygen levels by reducing combined sewer outflows; reducing nitrogen discharges through improvements to wastewater treatment plants; and streamlining design and permit processes for incorporating green infrastructure.

To restore and protect wetlands and shorefront habitats, the three-year agenda includes $50 million in waterfront ecological restoration projects; projects to restore tidal wetlands and marshland at parks in the Bronx and Brooklyn; and a project to identify opportunities for large-scale oyster restoration. The Vision 2020 goals include creating and expanding shorelines, shallows, and intertidal areas; concentrating habitat creation and enhancement in protected ecological complexes; and improving habitat for oysters, fish, and other aquatic species.

In steps to help the city withstand coastal storms and flooding exacerbated by sea-level rise and other effects of climate change, the plan calls for establishing a strategic planning process for climate resilience, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to update flood insurance maps, and revising evacuation maps. Longer-term steps include identifying resources to promote research and modeling of flood and storm surge risks; considering zoning changes to remove disincentives to enhanced flood protection of buildings; and developing an inventory of adaptation strategies that could be applied to the city.

About March 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Envirosphere in March 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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