Power producer at Eastman Business Park wins $5 million in state carbon challenge

 The utility company that modernized energy production at the former Kodak Park and turned it away from coal has won $5 million from a carbon-reduction contest run by New York State.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Friday that Recycled Energy Development-Rochester LLC, known as RED-Rochester, was one of the two winners in the first round of the Commercial and Industrial Carbon Challenge.

International Paper in Ticonderoga also won $2.8 million for its reduction efforts. The companies have committed to reducing a total of nearly 850,000 tons of carbon in the next 15 years. RED-Rochester installed four natural gas boilers and converted an old coal-fueled boiler to natural gas to curtail carbon emissions while serving business clients at Eastman Business Park.

“Reducing carbon emissions is a critical piece of New York’s comprehensive strategy to combat climate change on all fronts,” Cuomo said. “We are proud to invest in New York companies that are committed to advancing clean energy projects in support of the State’s green economy and path to a carbon-neutral economy.”

According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, commercial and industrial buildings account for 33 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in New York.

“The Carbon Challenge offers a unique opportunity to simultaneously reduce CO2 and invest in the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of Eastman Business Park,” said RED-Rochester President Craig E. Bennett. “It furthers our commitment to the environment and enhances our ability to attract and retain new industrial customers which create jobs and increases the tax base.”

In the next round of the carbon challenge, NYSERDA is making $15 million available for the competition. The deadline to apply is July 26. Information is available on the NYSERDA website.

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Cuomo makes good on $500 million promise to Finger Lakes region

The Finger Lakes Region has received $498 million of the $500 million promised by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015 through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. To date, 100 projects have received financial commitments from the state.

“These commitments are an important milestone in our efforts to invest in job creation and the economic turnaround of the Finger Lakes region,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, chairwoman of the statewide Regional Economic Development Councils. “Thanks to an unprecedented focus on growing the upstate economy, we have seen record investments in Rochester and the Finger Lakes, with thousands of jobs created and retained as a result of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The REDC process continues to transform New York and build a brighter future in every region of our state.”

On Tuesday, the Finger Lakes REDC received a briefing on Cuomo’s recently enacted state budget, which Cuomo’s Senior Adviser John Maggiore said would continue to advance the region through a number of initiatives, including the 2 percent property tax cap and keeping state spending capped at 2 percent. Maggiore said the budget supports the momentum already underway due to the Finger Lakes Forward plan “which is reshaping the region thanks to focused investments in the photonics industry, agriculture and food endeavors and in next generation technologies.”

Implementation of the United for Success: Finger Lakes Forward plan is two years ahead of schedule, FLREDC officials noted. The 100 funded projects will leverage more than $1.77 billion in additional private, local and federal investment and will create some 4,000 new jobs.

More than 6,200 jobs have been retained in the region through the URI.

“The collaboratively designed Finger Lakes Forward plan represents our shared vision for the nine-county region,” said FLREDC co-chairs Anne Kress and Robert Duffy in a statement. “Thanks for Gov. Cuomo’s $500 million in Upstate Revitalization Initiative funding, we have been able to target our concrete, focused ideas that were developed to support the plan and are now laying the foundation for sustainable economic development throughout the region for many years to come.”

During Tuesday’s FLREDC meeting, Boston Consulting Group’s Matt Bosch presented a review the firm conducted on the Finger Lakes regional economy, commissioned by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. and the Rochester Downtown Development Corp. The study recommends new prioritization of the business-led economic development activities in the region, as well as two items approved by the FLREDC:

• Setting and reporting on specific targets for the region’s primary goals to grow jobs, increase regional wealth, reduce poverty and drive private investment; and
• A modified strategic framework that refines the foundational and enabling components of the region’s plan and adds two new industry pillars: healthcare and life sciences, and a concentrated focus on software and information technology.

Cuomo created the URI competition to focus on the economic development of Upstate New York as part of a long-term, regionally based plan for economic growth through the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils.

As part of the recently passed budget, funding is being provided for Round IX of the competition. Since the initiative’s inception in 2011, the FLREDC has delivered $656.6 million for more than 850 projects in the region, officials said.

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State to hold clean transportation listening sessions

cars highways city aerial-view-architecture-bridges-681335A number of state departments are seeking to engage residents and businesses through upcoming listening sessions on clean transportation.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Department of Transportation (DOT) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will host seven listening sessions in locations across the state to help advance a cleaner, safer and more reliable low-carbon transportation future.

The catch? None will be held in Rochester.

Still, for those interested in attending, two sessions will be held Aug. 16 at Erie Community College in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville.

“The state Department of Transportation is pleased to be part of this effort, joining with other agencies and stakeholders to identify transportation enhancements that will facilitate economic growth and improve air quality for decades to come,” said DOT Acting Commissioner Paul Karas in a statement.

The clean transportation listening sessions are designed to engage stakeholders with diverse interests and concerns in a discussion of the economic and social considerations for deploying clean transportation options, opportunities to enhance environmental and public health benefits and how low-carbon transportation can enhance quality of life and boost economic competitiveness.

“In addition to our full commitment to fight the extremely irresponsible rollbacks proposed by the federal government, we are working with other states and key stakeholders to maintain our stringent emission standards, ensuring we continue to protect the health of New Yorkers while attracting the clean energy jobs of tomorrow,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, referring to the recent Trump administration rollback on automotive fuel efficiency standards.

Seggos noted that emissions from cars and trucks are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York, amounting to more than one-third of the state’s total.

“This policy discussion is crucial to maintaining momentum toward the governor’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gases 40 percent by 2030,” Seggos said.

The listening sessions build on New York’s comprehensive, multi-agency clean transportation efforts to make electric vehicles (EV) more affordable and accessible. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced a $250 million EV expansion initiative called Evolve NY. In addition to state funding, the program will seek to create private sector partnerships through 2025 to aggressively accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles statewide. Cuomo has said he wants to launch 10,000 EV charging stations by 2021.

“We have seen in New York an increasing number of consumers choosing cleaner transportation alternatives as part of the state’s comprehensive approach to tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said. “We look forward to working with interested stakeholders who have a commitment like we do to building a cleaner transportation infrastructure that will help preserve our environment for decades to come.”

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New York craft beverage makers tops 1,000

beer-blur-close-up-250465The number of craft beverage makers in New York has shot past the 1,000 mark, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Thursday.

The total of beer, wine, spirits and cider makers is now 1,005, with 538 of those businesses opening after the governor’s pivotal beverage summit in 2012.

“By working to remove barriers to expansion, we have helped foster new opportunities for small businesses and will continue to support breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries as they develop their brands, create new jobs and drive tourism all over New York,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The Finger Lakes, which started with the largest number of wineries and other craft beverage makers, maintained that spot by adding another 27 wineries for a total of 178 craft beverage makers.

The Mid-Hudson Valley had quite the beverage boom, adding 93 new businesses, including 54 new breweries.

“Thanks to New York’s tireless efforts to cut red tape, craft beverage manufacturers are thriving like never before in communities across the state,” observed Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

Since the craft beverage summit, New York has welcomed 285 craft breweries, 96 wineries, 95 distilleries, 39 cideries and 23 new producers that are licensed to produce multiple types of alcoholic beverages.

In just the last year alone, 108 new beverage makers arrived.

Cuomo noted that New York ranks first nationally for number of hard cider producers, second for craft distilleries, third for breweries, and fourth for wineries.

After the 2012 summit, a number of legislative and regulatory changes were made to make it easier and faster to gain farm licenses for making alcoholic beverages. Incentives were also put in place to encourage use of local raw ingredients. As a result, acreage for growing malting barley, necessary for craft brewing, increased from 422 acres to 2,000, and 13 malt houses have opened.

“The growth of the industry has had a tremendous ripple effect in our communities, including benefiting our farmers who are supplying fresh ingredients and high-quality agricultural crops for unique varietals of beers, wines, spirits and ciders,” said State Agriculture Commissioners Richard A. Ball.

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State provides $15 million in grants for energy grid modernization projects

pexels-photo-421888The state is setting aside $15 million to fund projects that will modernize New York’s power grid through renewable energy supplies, efficiency and overall performance.

Energy entrepreneurs have until July 18 to submit concept papers for the competitive awards in these four areas: research studies, engineering studies, product development and demonstration projects. All should be aimed at “developing innovative cybersecurity and data analytics or advanced planning, operations, and forecasting tools.” The state will invite some of those concepts to be fleshed out into full proposals for additional consideration.

A key component of any proposal should be explaining how the project will help the state meet its goal of having 50 percent of its power coming from renewable sources by 2030, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, which is overseeing the modernization initiative.

Specifications for the proposals are available online at the NYSERDA site.

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