New York manufacturing companies fight climate change using hydroelectric power

HOST INTRO:

Climate change is occupying lots of minds right now. This week the UN released a new report and things aren’t looking good for the environment. Fears about global warming causing wild weather patterns and food and water shortages makes for gloomy reading. In New York State though, hydro-electric power is being used by some companies. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but its use is also helping to keep jobs in-state. Poppie Mphuthing reports.

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A UN report put together by scientists says the effects of climate change will be devastating. The carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels are burnt is messing with natural weather patterns. Scientists say this will lead to chronic shortages of your most basic needs, like food and water.

Many environmentalists have been calling for more use of carbon dioxide free energy for years. And New York State is listening. It’s doing this and creating jobs at the same time through the ReCharge NY program.

One company that is benefitting is Rubberform recycled products.

The company uses recycled waste to make goods like traffic signs, speed bumps and rubber mats. George McNamara is vice president of operations at Rubberform. He says low cost energy has ensured the company’s viability.

McNAMARA: New York electricity is expensive… without the power allocation, we likely wouldn’t be in New York State. This is something we discussed quite a few times, moving out of state.

The ReCharge NY progam program requires businesses and not-for-profit companies to retain and add jobs. In return, the New York State Power Authority supplies participating companies cheap electricity. And it does this by using low cost hydro-power generated from its plants that are dotted around the state.

Businesses have to apply to NYPA to get the subsidized electricity and have to meet strict criteria including a commitment to add jobs and grow the local economy.

Robert Lurie is NYPA’s senior vice president of Strategic Planning. He says that it is critical to create jobs keeping climate change in mind by using clean energy.

LURIE: Hydropower is among one the lowest cost sources of power in the United States… we’re able to attract manufacturing facilities from New York State and retain the ones that are here and thereby attracting and retaining jobs.

McNamara says the subsidies along with a $250,000 Environmental Investment Program grant from New York’s state development agency means the company can expand.

McNAMARA: The partnership with NYPA is unique. They’re actually concerned we keep the business here”.

Rubberform is building a brand new production line to produce glue for its rubber products that are made from recycled products.

McNAMARA: All those pictures you see of however many square miles of plastic bottles you see, we’re trying to reduce that… we take all the old soda containers, water bottles,  they’re all shredded down and melted.”

Most of New York’s clean energy comes from hydropower. State law says by next year 30 percent of electricity has to come from clean energy, including hydroelectric power.

For now, survival looks like a real possibility for many green New York businesses, using clean energy to slow the damaging effects of climate change.

Poppie Mphuthing.

Columbia Radio News.

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