THE ELISABETH HAUB SCHOOL OF LAW CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF CLEAN ENERGY WORK AT THE PACE ENERGY AND CLIMATE CENTER
WHITE PLAINS, NY – Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law today celebrated 30 years of work at the Pace Energy and Climate Center (PECC). For three decades, PECC has been at the leading edge of creating and implementing solutions to our energy and climate challenges on the local, state, regional, national, and international levels.
“Pace’s Energy and Climate Center is an important part of the Pace Law campus and our community,” said Dean Horace Anderson. “It is a force for legal and policy change, and has trained many Pace Law students to become the next generation of smart energy professionals, working at home and abroad to create more resilient, sustainable communities.”
“This little Center has had an outsized positive effect on clean energy policy over the past thirty years,” said Karl R. Rábago, current Center director. “We fight well above our weight because of the brilliant and inspired leadership of our founder, Dick Ottinger; because the high caliber of our staff, interns, and colleagues; and because of the steadfast support of our community, funders, and clients. I can’t wait to see what we do next!”
PECC was founded by Pace Law Dean Emeritus Richard Ottinger. In recognition of his decades of service to the Center, numerous elected officials issued proclamations and letters of support commending him for his service, including Congressman Eliot L. Engel, New York State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins, New York State Assembly Members Amy R. Paulin, Steven Otis, and Thomas J. Abinanti, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Benjamin Boykin, Westchester County Board of Legislator Catherine Parker, and Mayor of the City of White Plains Thomas Roach.
PECC is one of eight centers and institutes that are a part of the Pace Law campus. PECC is the leading Center working at the intersection of energy and the environment, engaging government decision makers and key stakeholders with robust research and analysis in law and policy. Over time, the Center has grown from its initial focus on energy regulatory law and policies to tackle transportation and fuels, as well as climate change mitigation and resilience. PECC directly engaged in complex regulatory proceedings in New York and several other states, and advocates successfully for policies to improve energy efficiency, advance renewable energy and distributed generation, account for environmental impacts in energy decisions, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
PECC is a critical part of Pace Law’s environmental law program, which is consistently ranked among the top in the country by “US News &World Report.” The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University launched its environmental law program in 1978; it has long been ranked among the world’s leading university programs. Pace’s doctoral graduates teach environmental law at universities around the world. Pace’s J.D. alumni are prominent in environmental law firms, agencies and non-profit organizations across the U.S. and abroad.
About Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University
Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law (Pace Law) offers Juris Doctorate, Master of Laws, and Doctor of Juridical Science in Environmental Law degrees, as well as a series of joint degree programs. The school, housed on the University’s campus in White Plains, New York, opened its doors in 1976 and has over 8,500 alumni around the world. The school maintains a unique philosophy and approach to legal education that strikes an important balance between practice and theory. For more information visit http://law.pace.edu.
We have consistently fought efforts by utilities in NY to increase basic customer charges, which are among the worst/highest in the nation. And we have been winning! In early efforts we stopped increases; recently we have secured reductions in NY’s too high customer charges. This video by Resource Media explains what fixed charges are and why utilities want to raise them. In January, Con Ed will file a major rate case, this is just in time for you to take action!
Pace completed a brief on Puerto Rico’s opportunity to rebuild its grid in a manner that makes the island more resilient. We find that PREPA can take action now to lay a strong foundation for distributed energy resources (DER) to integrate with the transmission & distribution system, by making the right kind of capital equipment investments as it is being rebuilt. The future grid should be designed to accommodate far greater penetration of DER and ought to have the functionality to utilize DER as dynamic assets, supporting the grid. If PREPA fails to take actions to accommodate DER and beneficially utilize their grid support capabilities, it could face grid defection, and forego opportunities to significantly improve grid performance, productivity and system resiliency.
Pace strongly supports Puerto Rico’s integration of DER, renewable energy, and coordinated microgrids to utilize the natural resources of the island and manage an electrical grid that supplies the power needed. In partnership with IEEFA, we submitted comments to PREC on microgrids.
Pace has also been heavily engaged in this work throughout the Northeast. We promote knowledge of high efficiency combined heat and power as a back bone to microgrids in our region as the US DOE TAP by evaluating site screening and successful case studies. This work dovetails with our solar coalition work where we advocate for streamlined policies that facilitate and reduce the cost of integrating distributed energy resources to the existing electrical grid.
The idea of establishing a federal or state tax on carbon emissions is a concept gaining a lot of attention today. While everyone understands taxes, many don’t understand exactly how a tax on carbon would work, who would be impacted, and whether it would be effective in reducing climate-changing carbon emissions. Pace Energy and Climate Center, along with Sustainable Westchester Federated Conservationists of Westchester County, Citizens’ Climate Lobby New York State, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby Westchester, are hosting a forum to discuss the idea of a tax on carbon. Pace has secured a panel of national experts to discuss, and looks forward to having questions answered and ideas about carbon taxes discussed.
The Pace Energy and Climate Center panel discussion on carbon taxes:
Date: Monday, March 26, 2018
Location: Tudor Room, Preston Hall, Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law, 78 N. Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603.
In preparation of this discussion, Pace has assembled some helpful resources for basic knowledge about the carbon tax concept.
In its most simple form, a carbon tax is a fee levied by an agency of government on the production, transportation, or use of fossil fuels. Today, the price of fossil fuels and the products and services we get from fossil fuel use do not reflect the cost that carbon emissions impose on the climate and people. The idea behind a carbon tax is that if the price of things reflects the real cost, our purchase and use decisions will be more economical. Setting the right carbon tax and deciding which fuels or activities will be taxed are the first decisions that have to be made.
The next big question about carbon taxes is what to do with the money raised. Should the tax revenues go toward general government budgets? To offset the burden on consumers? To fund improvements and growth in clean energy technologies?
Below are listed a few resources that can serve as an introduction to the issue of carbon taxes. Some of these materials were prepared by advocates for carbon taxes.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are fresh in our minds. We read of the homes, businesses, healthcare facilities the customers numbering in the millions who were without power. Although unpleasant for most, not having power, heating and cooling can be fatal for some.
In Hollywood Hills, Florida, New York Times reported deaths of 8 residents at The Rehabilitation Center, where air conditioning systems failed due to a power outage. This stands as a stark reminder of the importance of maintaining continuous energy services for certain vulnerable populations and for high priority services. When the power is out at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted and senior living, large multifamily and public housing complexes, there are few good options. One approach that has succeeded time and again in the past is an onsite, combined heat and power (CHP) system that has been constructed to run during grid outages.
Properly designed, configured, and operated combined heat and power (CHP) systems can provide power, heating and cooling to buildings during energy outages of extended duration, as was delivered during Super Storm Sandy. Pace Energy and Climate Center discusses in Powering Through Storms, natural gas (generally not affected by storms) powered CHP is capable of delivering energy services so that the site remains comfortable, habitable, and functional.
At businesses, campuses, healthcare centers, and multifamily complexes where energy demands are suited, well-designed CHP systems can be smart, cost saving investments. They offer a suite of benefits, well beyond cost savings, that are often overlooked. An important benefit of a CHP system is the resiliency the building and its occupants can depend on. Post Katrina, Sandy, and now Post Harvey and Irma It’s time that decision makers account for the reliability that a CHP system offers them when making investments in buildings.
The resiliency value of CHP has been well documented in “Combined Heat and Power: Enabling Resilient Energy Infrastructure for Critical Facilities” prepared for Oak Ridge National Labs 14 case studies from around the country describe the performance of CHP systems during emergency events. When disasters, like hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Sandy, Katrina, and others, strike we are all reminded of the enormous economic, personal, and social value of operating hardy buildings. The ability to withstand and recover from a storm is particularly important for critical infrastructure facilities, such as hospitals and wastewater treatment plants, or in residential complexes where vulnerable populations–the elderly, the infirm, and the very young—are best served by a “safe in place” strategy to the extent possible.
It would behoove anyone charged with making investments to value the resiliency of buildings, especially critical infrastructure. The investment in combined heat and power generates economic returns and environmental benefits over the long run. By also valuing building resiliency, CHP becomes an ever more attractive, yet far too often overlooked investment for a broad class of buildings.