New Clean Energy Standards Will Give Boost to Small Business Community

Huffington Post

This week the Environmental Protection Agency released its Clean Power Plan – new rules establishing the first-ever carbon emissions standards for power plants. This is good news for entrepreneurs, the majority of whom support the EPA limiting carbon pollution, because they will strengthen our economy and small businesses by driving investment in clean energy technologies, encouraging innovation, lowering energy costs and mitigating the impacts of climate change and extreme weather.

In fact, the CPP is slated to generate a whopping $155 billion in electricity savings between 2020 and 2030, and it has the potential to create a quarter million jobs by 2040. These benefits will help small businesses save money on energy costs while also putting more money in the hands of consumers that they can spend at small businesses.

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Entrepreneurs Say Strong Clean Energy Standards Make Good Business Sense

Huffington Post

Energy is a hot topic right now, and much of the debate is centered on clean energy policies’ impact on small businesses and their bottom lines. Some claim stronger energy standards will kill jobs and hurt entrepreneurs. But in a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed out clean energy standards and business success can go hand-in-hand. He called on his fellow lawmakers to pass legislation that “creates jobs, saves money and puts our country on the track to energy independence.”

The bill Reid was referring to is the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. For those who aren’t already familiar with this bill, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, co-authored bipartisan legislation with New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, that would cut energy costs, enhance energy security and reduce emissions. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, nicknamed the Shaheen-Portman bill, would also provide rebates and training to encourage people to be more energy efficient, promote manufacturing and supply chain efficiency and require the federal government to be more efficient.

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Energy-Efficient Opportunities for Small Business

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Originally featured in Comstock’s Magazine:

Late last year, California held the nation’s inaugural cap-and-trade auction, where greenhouse gas emission permits were sold in an effort to monetize and reduce carbon pollution. And just last month, new cap-and-trade regulations on large power and industrial plants officially went into effect.

Those events and the topic of greenhouse gas legislation in general have incited considerable debate about the adverse economic effect such laws could have on small businesses at a time of fiscal strain and uncertainty. The answer is: very little. In fact, small businesses have much to gain.

California’s global warming law, commonly known as Assembly Bill 32, was approved in 2006 and focuses on large polluters — oil refineries, big factories and power plants — not the local gas station or dry cleaner down the street. Much fuss has been made about increased costs to small businesses. However, any increased costs would come through energy prices and not from the new law, according to economic consulting firm The Brattle Group, which estimates electricity costs to rise about 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour per year.

And because the vast majority of small businesses in California are not energy-intensive (the average small business spends less than 1.5 percent of revenues on energy-related costs), any increase in energy prices will be modest. It’s important to note, also, that a national Small Business Majority poll released last year found 56 percent of small business owners support the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, even if it means a possible increase in utility prices.

The real small-business skinny on AB 32 is that the law will create far more opportunities than problems. California’s small businesses will be able to take advantage of the increased investments, innovation and energy efficiency savings that the law will generate. That will translate into more demand for energy-efficient products and services, which will grow businesses and create jobs.

AB 32’s standards to reduce carbon pollution will fuel demand for and increase investment in energy-efficient goods and services, generating new prospects for the small businesses that provide them.

Michael Davis, owner of US Pure Water and The Water Store in Novato, has seen firsthand how increased environmental standards can create opportunities for small businesses like his. Davis’s company’s mission is to get people off bottled water and onto a more ecofriendly and economical water filtration and purification system. When he got a contract with the county of San Francisco to replace bottled water with water purification systems, he thought he’d have orders coming out of his ears. But city and county offices continued buying bottled water instead of purchasing systems from Davis, despite his contract.

“(The contract) was just a behind-the-scenes decision with no real movement,” Davis says. “No one placed orders for bottleless water because the purchasers for the city offices were not well enough aware of the cost savings, convenience and ecological advantages to bottleless water systems. But then the mayor issued an executive order, and the orders started rolling in. It would have taken years of educating the purchasers otherwise.”

AB 32 provides the same type of catalyst. By requiring big companies to become more efficient, it gives more opportunities to the little ones that, more often than not, are suppliers to their larger counterparts.

What’s more, an analysis conducted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) concluded that the small-business service sector, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of the state’s total employment and 50 percent of all small business jobs, will see an increase of $4.6 billion more in revenue by 2020 and 15,000 jobs will be added. Additionally, the financial benefit of the law translates to an extra $1,115 per employee per year. These benefits are a result of requirements in the law that spur greater energy and fuel efficiency, CARB found.

Increased energy efficiency is good for the average consumer, too. CARB’s analysis estimated that expanded energy efficiency options will help increase Californians’ income by $2 billion annually, allowing them to spend more money on other local goods and services, often provided by small businesses.

But it’s not just clean energy-related businesses that can see opportunities from the law. AB 32 also creates incentives for more mainstream companies to “green” their operations — providing brand differentiation from competitors and garnering strong customer loyalty.

While AB 32 does not require small businesses to invest in energy efficiency improvements, it can provide opportunities for entrepreneurs that decide to make their businesses more sustainable. First, making investments in more efficient technologies will save businesses money on energy costs. And it will be easier than ever for small businesses to take advantage of these technologies thanks to the substantial resources included in the law devoted to helping them make improvements.

Second, increased consumer awareness of climate change spawned by the law likely will lead to increased demand for climate-conscious products and services — simultaneously creating opportunities for companies that successfully promote the “greener” aspects of their businesses.

The bottom line on cap-and-trade and AB 32: The only impact small businesses will see is the impact they create by becoming more energy efficient, by servicing larger businesses impacted by energy mandates or by differentiating themselves in the marketplace.

Small-business owners innovate to survive. It’s more than likely 2013 will see a host of small businesses doing just that.

Small Businesses Support ‘All of the Above’ Energy Policy That Balances Public Land Protection

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The Grand Canyon State, the Silver State, the Land of Enchantment and Colorful Colorado are all very different, as their state nicknames show. But they also have something in common: they describe a region of the American Southwest featuring some of the most stunning natural assets our nation has to offer. And according to opinion polling released May 15, small business owners in all four states strongly believe the preservation of those assets is essential to their financial success and that of local economies. Furthermore, a majority of them would find the president’s “all of the above” energy policy all the more appealing if it ensures protection of those public lands.

The poll, commissioned by Small Business Majority, revealed the important role public lands often play in small business owners’ decisions to open businesses in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. Nearly half said that when choosing where to live and own a business, access to outdoor opportunities provided by parks and public lands was a large factor. That’s a huge deal. Of all the reasons for someone to start a business — affordable rent, an area well-known for talent — it says a lot that half of them attribute the reason to public lands. And similarly, four in 10 owners believe their state’s national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife habitats are not only an essential part of the outdoor culture and quality of life there, but also one of the reasons they do business there.

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Small Businesses Want Government to Invest in Clean Energy

Across the United States, Main Street small businesses are working to rebuild our economy. These entrepreneurs are doing all they can to hire, grow and move their businesses forward. And they’re doing it largely through innovation — particularly in the clean energy arena.

Across all industries and at both ends of the political spectrum, entrepreneurs overwhelmingly support government investing in renewable energy and creating clean energy policies that will help guide them into a new economic sector where they can do business, according to opinion polling Small Business Majority released last week. The poll found that 71 percent believe government investments in clean energy play an important role in creating jobs now. Even the high-profile bankruptcy of Solyndra, which closed its doors in 2011 after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government, doesn’t stop small businesses from supporting energy investments. Fifty-eight percent agree the company’s downfall doesn’t mean government should ditch efforts to invest in renewable technologies.

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