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Solar Photovoltaic Economic Development: Building and Growing a Local PV Industry

by Emma Timboy-Pickering Aug 22, 2011

Man Carrying Solar Panels

Solar Photovoltaic Economic Development: Building and Growing a Local PV IndustryCheck out this new report from the Department of Energy for an introduction on how local economic development offices can set informed recruitment targets for renewable energy. This report was released through the Solar America Communities program.

Blue yellow arrow icon small Download the Report (pdf)

From the report overview:

This report was developed to help communities evaluate opportunities in the photovoltaic (PV) industry and develop a strategic approach appropriate to a specific community. The document provides the information for communities to:

  1. Build an understanding of the various sectors of the PV industry, metrics, differentiation, and trends in each segment
  2. Build an understanding of site selection processes and criteria for each industry segment, and the potential economic benefits of each segment
  3. Begin to evaluate the city’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential to change within the context of the industry segments
  4. Understand tools and programs used to encourage investment and economic development. Use these tools to reinforce strengths, improve weaknesses, and market to the PV industry over the long term. This report summarizes the PV industry, but further information and reading may be important to city-specific efforts. Appendix A describes additional resources.


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Local Governments Ready to Act on President Obama’s Clean Energy Challenge

by Guillermo Meneses, Communications Director Feb 03, 2011


Local governments are giving high marks to President Obama and his Administration for its steadfast commitment to fostering innovation and building a roadmap to a clean energy economy that will create jobs and improve the quality of life of city residents throughout the nation. 

In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed several bold and innovative clean energy proposals

  • producing 80% of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035
  • putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015

On behalf of our more than 600 local government members across the nation, ICLEI USA commends the President’s actions. “These actions proposed by the President will clearly put a 21st century America on the right track to bolstering much needed job creation and clean tech innovation that will be a catalyst for building healthier communities and a cleaner environment for future generations,” remarked ICLEI USA Executive Director Martin Chávez

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Economic Development and Sustainability Resources

by Art Von Lehe, ICLEI Senior Policy Officer Nov 21, 2010

People Walking Sidewalk

New York City, NY. Photo credit: mgarbowski on Flickr.

Did you miss ICLEI’s two-part webinar series, Clean Energy and Sustainability as a Local Economic Development Strategy? Watch the recordings or download the PowerPoint slides, filled with key insights for local governments.

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Prop 23 Threatens California’s Clean Energy Future

by Martin Chávez, ICLEI USA Executive Director Oct 28, 2010

Los Angeles Smog by Ben Amstutz

Photo credit: Ben Amstutz on Flickr.

Local governments across California are facing an assault on their efforts to create green jobs and foster vital business development through clean technology industries, and it will be up to voters on November 2nd to decide its fate. Passage of Proposition 23 (the Dirty Energy Proposition) would hamper progress on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in hundreds of communities across California, while threatening new opportunities for job creation and economic growth. 

It’s no secret that out of state oil companies are footing the bill for Prop. 23 and they have a lot to gain if it passes. Prop. 23 would effectively repeal California’s ground-breaking clean energy and clean air law AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. This landmark legislation made California a model for clean energy innovation and largely responsible for the dramatic growth of the state’s innovative green energy industry.

"No" on Prop 23 Means New Jobs

During a time of deep economic despair, AB 32 has been instrumental in generating new businesses, which have led to hundreds of thousands of new jobs in an industry largely overlooked for many years. AB 32 has proven to be one of the few bright economic lights in a grim era marked by declining revenue, steep budget cuts, and a stubborn local 12.6 unemployment rate. Other than serving the interests of big oil and feeding our chronic dependency on fossil fuels, there is no legitimate reason for Californians to repeal AB 32.

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Nashua, NH, Green Team Re-Launches Green Business Roundtable

by The Greater Nashua Business Round Table May 20, 2010

Nashua River. Photo Credit: StarrGazr via Flickr

Photo Credit: StarrGazr via Flickr

Nashua, NH’s Green Team is re-launching its Greater Nashua Business Roundtable to engage area businesses in fruitful discussions and initiatives to help make Nashua a greener community. The mission of the Roundtable is three-fold. It raises awareness by educating and communicating green initiatives to area businesses, seeks areas where the municipality and businesses can collaborate and partner, and increases business opportunities in areas of green products and services.

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High-Speed Train Manufacturer Arrives at Milwaukee's "Greenlight District"

by Brita Pagels, ICLEI Midwest Regional Officer Mar 30, 2010

Talgo 350 High-Speed Train (credit: Talgo)

The Talgo 350 high-speed train, pictured above, can reach speeds up to 350 km/h. Photo credit: Talgo

Every local government wants to attract "green" manufacturing jobs, and Milwaukee stands out as one that is having success. Earlier this month, Mayor Tom Barrrett welcomed Talgo, a high-speed train manufacturer to the 30th Street Industrial Corridor, or the “Greenlight District.”

Like many cities in the Midwest, Milwaukee lost many manufacturing businesses over the past decades and is working to attract green technology manufacturiers to the city and in particular to vacant spaces in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor. Since the 19th century, businesses traditionally located in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor, a rail corridor, because they had the ability to move raw materials and finished goods in/out of Milwaukee.

Talgo’s office will be located in Century City, an 84-acre city-owned business park once the home of two local business institutions, among others: A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive manufacturing operations. Talgo will perform final manufacturing and assembly of high-speed trains on-site, in a completely refurbished building. The City forecasts up to 1,000 long-term jobs if the vacant properties are occupied.

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Clean Energy Works Portland Ready for Takeoff

by Don Knapp Feb 16, 2010


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As Your Buildings Get Greener, Are Your Supers Keeping Up?

by Erica Etelson Jan 28, 2010

Blueprint for green buildings coverWant to ramp up the greening of your city’s building stock? Train superintendents, says the Urban Green Council in its new Blueprint for Greening New York City’s Buildings. The Council released the Blueprint in conjunction with the announcement of a training program it is offering in collaboration with Building Service Local 32BJ—to train up 1,000 New York City superintendents in one year.

Could a green “supers” training program be the missing ingredient in your local government’s energy efficiency efforts? Read the Blueprint, which makes this case and describes the components of New York’s training program.

The Blueprint’s take home: Superintendents who know their buildings inside and out can make or break energy efficiency investments. They are in regular contact with owners, tenants, and handymen and can either initiate and facilitate energy efficiency improvements or inadvertently thwart them.

The Blueprint cites examples of untrained superintendents undermining expensive energy efficiency improvements simply for lack of knowledge. There’s no point in installing an automated energy-efficient boiler if the technician, for lack of training, winds up shutting off the computer controls and operating it manually.

Under the green super program, trainees will become “energy efficient Multifamily Building Operators” certified by the Building Performance Institute and the Urban Green Council. Trainees learn about water conservation, green cleaning products and energy efficient heating, cooling, appliances and lighting. Superintendents also learn about government incentive programs and how to develop a green building management plan.

The Blueprint lays out the training curriculum along with a brief overview of the waste and inefficiency of most buildings (which, in New York, are the source of 77 percent of greenhouse gas emissions). We all know by now that energy efficiency improvements are a sound investment, but the Blueprint crunches the numbers to show how a 100-unit high rise would save a whopping $50,000 a year if it reduced its energy usage by 10 percent!

The Blueprint can serve as valuable guide for launching such a program. Beyond the Blueprint, the 1 Year, 1,000 Supers website is worth a read.

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After Obama's Address: 5 Reasons for Optimism on Climate and Energy

by Don Knapp Jan 27, 2010


In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama addressed climate change and energy independent without uttering that hexed phrase, cap-and-trade. Local government leaders who have long hoped for strong federal action to slash carbon emissions have to feel a bit deflated, as Congressional leaders also back away from any climate bill that could make them appear as if jobs were not their singular No. 1 priority (even if that legislation creates jobs, but I digress).

Nevertheless, there are still many reasons to be hopeful that our nation will move forward with meaningful actions to create American clean-energy jobs, mitigate climate change, and kick our addiction to dirty energy. Here are a few, off the top of my head:

1. Obama still gets it. Even though he's scaled back his climate policy ambitions and is now pushing nuclear and offshore drilling, he still understands the science of climate change and that the clock is ticking to reduce emissions and head off runaway global warming. He still knows that climate action can ultimately save money and create jobs. Here were his words last night:

And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year.  This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.  I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.  But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.  And America must be that nation.

2. Lisa Jackson is on a mission. Dealing with climate change is still at the top of the EPA chief's goals. Regulating carbon dioxide emissions through the Clean Air Act may serve as the plan B if climate legislation falters. Senator Lisa Murkowski is leading the opposition to EPA regulation, and we'll be monitoring the battle, since the outcome will have implications at the local level.

3. 2010 will be the "Year of Energy Efficiency," the year that stimulus-funded local government projects through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant hit the ground and make a real impact, with job creation and massive energy savings. Investment in energy efficiency, which hit a record in 2009, should continue to rise. Innovative PACE energy financing programs are multiplying at a phenomenal rate. More people will see the benefits of home-energy retrofits to save money, save energy, reduce emissions, and create local jobs. This is the quiet, unsexy revolution happening across America.

4. States are stepping up their leadership. Read this great SolveClimate roundup of exciting actions among states vying to lead the clean energy economy. Republican Governor Mitch Daniels, wants Indiana to be the electric car industry capital. New Hampshire is scaling up clean energy R&D. New Mexico is calling itself the "clean energy state," launching new tax incentives and what may be the world's largest solar generation plant.

5. Local governments are still the inspiration, still the role models to show that climate action is very doable, and that communities committed to sustainability are thriving communities. Cities and counties continue to set the most aggressive goals and implement the most innovative ideas, like PACE financing and solar feed-in tariffs, to name just two. ICLEI USA's membership continues to grow, with seasoned local governments (New York City, Miami-Dade County) able to share their experience and expertise, via ICLEI, to help new members move forward more quickly to set emissions reduction goals and create action plans.

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Federal Climate Policy in 2010: From Copenhagen to Congress

by Art von Lehe, ICLEI USA Policy Analyst Jan 19, 2010

Capital in Washington, D.C.

2010 promises to be another year of heated climate debate in Washington. The Copenhagen Accord (see our initial analysis) – the resulting agreement from the UN Climate Conference where ICLEI’s climate lounge received major media attention – will have some blanks filled in regarding national commitments on GHG reduction targets. The Accord calls for countries to provide emissions targets reduction goals by January 31, and the US targets are expected to be in line with the climate bills currently moving through Congress. 

The progress in Congress on climate and energy legislation, combined with existing authority for the EPA to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act, provided President Obama with the political capital needed to negotiate with other nations in Copenhagen.  Both of these domestic developments are expected to be subjects of much political wrangling in 2010.

Climate Legislation

This week’s election in Massachusetts brings uncertainty to the outcome for climate legislation; as Republican Senator-Elect Scott Brown’s stance on greenhouse gas pollution regulation has varied throughout his political career.  His fellow Senator from Massachusetts, Democrat John Kerry has been a steadfast leader in the climate debate for many years. Many localities have expressed tremendous interest in seeing climate legislation pass at the federal level – given the jobs creation, economic development, and funding opportunities outlined for local governments in the bills. 

Last year brought H.R. 2454 (see our analysis) passed on the floor of the House and S. 1733 (see our analysis) passed in Senate committee. Both bills provide insight in to what the final Senate version may look like, which is now being crafted by the tri-partisan group of Senators including John Kerry, Republican Lindsey Graham and Independent Joseph Lieberman. Please follow this link to ICLEI’s analysis of the Senate outline for the climate and energy bill and what it may mean for local governments.

EPA Authority

Given the complexity surrounding climate legislation, the Environmental Protection Agency serves as a backstop for regulating global warming pollution in the event the Senate fails in passing a bill.  The EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate GHGs was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007 in the landmark case “Massachusetts v. EPA.”  Exercising this authority, President Obama has directed EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to move towards crafting regulations for greenhouse gas pollution, starting first with tailpipes – an agency action that would then trigger further regulations for smokestacks and other “stationary sources.”

Opposition to EPA authority is mounting in Congress, most recently headed up by the Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska who intends to stop the EPA from addressing global warming pollution. At the time of the writing of this article, Senator Murkowski is considering action to: either propose an amendment to block the EPA’s ability to regulate GHGs for one year; or to sponsor a “resolution of disapproval” which could overturn the EPA’s recent finding that global warming pollution threatens human health and the environment. Senator Murkowski is also considering a third option – forcing a premature up or down vote on the concept of cap and trade before many Senators have had a chance to address their concerns with the legislation.

Jobs and Livability

Before the climate bill reaches a vote, the Senate plans to turn its attention to the economy following up on the House of Representatives’ narrowly-passed H.R. 2847, known as “The Jobs Bill,” totaling $174 billion. Similar to other recent economic stimulus bills, the jobs bill would have implications for local governments as it would allocate funds for: highway construction, urban and rural transit programs, clean water initiatives, renewable energy deployment, environmental restoration, and clean drinking water programs. 

The transportation bill is expected to be on the agenda for 2010 in Congress as well. On the administrative side, Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood recently proposed new funding guidelines for major transportation projects that would include livability standards such as economic development and environmental benefits including carbon reduction. The new rules will change the way public transportation dollars are awarded, by adding new criteria to the already existing time saved and total costs assessments.

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