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!
By Robert Habermann, Pace Energy and Climate Center 2017-2018 Equitable Access to Sustainable Energy Fellow
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (“LBNL”) recently released a report titled, Income Trends of Residential PV Adopters, that identifies a growing correlation between photovoltaic solar adoption and moderate-income households. This report also comes on the heels of a GTM Research and PowerScout study that revealed middle-income homeowners make up 70% of solar customers in California, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. The developing data on solar adoption by moderate-income homes is positive news for the industry, for ratepayers and for states seeking to transition to more resilient and distributed grid. Yet, is a new dawn for the adoption of rooftop solar upon us? Maybe. One thing we can confidently discern: the data disproves the deceptive argument that solar is for the wealthy and that most households can’t afford to install rooftop panels.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, https://emp.lbl.gov/news/new-berkeley-lab-study-offers-insights-income.
Both reports recognize the importance of using the correct household-level data in the studies. Household-level data provides a more granular and accurate look at adoption trends while avoiding the zip-code level bias (i.e. extensive income variations within zip codes) that many “solar adoption” reports have utilized in the past. The LBNL report builds upon the GTM Research study by taking an even wider geographical scope, surveying 13 states of which this data is available for a majority of the market. The results clearly show a trend towards the adoption of solar by moderate-income households. If you look at Figure 2, the median income for PV adopters has declined from $100k in 2010 to $87k in 2016, while the income gap between PV adopters and owner-occupied households (“OO-HHs”) has dropped from 27% to 10% during that same time. LBNL notes in the report that the four highest-income states (CA, CT, DC and MA) have even reached “income party,” that the median income of OO-HHs is at or below the median income of PV adopters.
What is driving this trend towards PV adoption by moderate income households? LBNL offers a few ideas: The declining cost of PV solar, efforts by public institutions and solar firms to target low-to-moderate income (“LMI”) customers, third-party ownership models, and a general maturation of the market coupled with customer awareness. Yet, further measures can be taken to close the gap between PV adoption and income and secure more equitable access to the residential solar market.
The LBNL report highlights a few key elements that can be addressed:
Finding: Home-ownership, which correlates with higher income, drives differences in PV adoption among income groups. Recommendation: Solar policy needs to address the split-incentive issue to accommodate for renters and those living in multi-family buildings.
Finding: LMI households have a higher rate of third-party ownership of their residential PV systems. Recommendation: State policy should allow lease providers to take advantage of and pass along ownership incentives to LMI customers.
Finding: Residential PV system size is notably smaller for LMI households. Recommendation: Rate structures must be designed to recognize the value of solar to the grid and not simply incentivize higher electricity consumption.
It should also be noted that participation in a community shared solar project provides an avenue for LMI customers to obtain the benefits of solar without needing a rooftop system. Therefore, state policy should support regulations that promote development of community-based solar.
The Pace Energy and Climate Center is currently working on all of these issues in the Value of Distributed Energy Resources proceeding in New York State. The Center also continues to advocate for solar policy that serves LMI customers with written testimony submitted throughout the country in regulatory and rate-case proceedings.