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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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.

Opinion Polling Shows Small Business Owners Support Ending Government Subsidies to Oil and Gas Companies

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Original statement issued on March 29, 2012:

Small business owners strongly support ending government subsidies to gas and oil companies, with 73 percent agreeing tax breaks for oil and gas companies should be eliminated and 60 percent supporting the idea even if it means a small increase in gas prices, according to opinion polling released today by Small Business Majority.

The polling, which was conducted over the past week in six states (Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia and Nevada), comes on the heels of a statement President Obama made in the White House Rose Garden Thursday urging Congress to end tax breaks to the largest oil companies. Despite this strong support, the Senate failed to pass a bill that would do just that in a 51-47 vote Thursday. The majority of senators stood with small businesses to end subsidies, however a 60-vote majority was needed to pass the bill.

Large oil and gas companies have been and continue to post record profits, while our primary job creators are struggling to stay afloat. Instead of providing tax breaks to these large firms we should be focusing on measures that will directly benefit small businesses competing in a modern, innovative, clean energy-based 21st Century economy. Lawmakers need to start listening to what small business owners are saying and act accordingly.

Additional findings include:

  • 41 percent strongly favor eliminating subsidies, while only 10 percent strongly oppose
  • 32 percent strongly favor eliminating subsidies even if it means an increase in gas prices, while only 18 percent strongly oppose

For more information on the poll, visit http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org/small-business-research/clean-energy/

New Greenhouse Gas Rules Can Create Opportunities for Small Businesses

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Original statement issued on March 26, 2012:

Rules proposed today by the Environmental Protection Agency that would limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants will help spur innovation and provide opportunities for small businesses to grow. What’s more, rules such as these are supported by a majority of small businesses—our primary job creators.

National opinion polling we released in September found 76 percent of small business owners support the EPA regulating carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Another 87 percent believe improving innovation and energy efficiency are good ways to increase prosperity for small businesses.

The Clean Air Act, under the direction of the EPA, has had a successful 40-year record of safeguarding our economic interests, along with the public health. It has created an atmosphere conducive to entrepreneurism, spurred the innovation of new American technologies and supported a massive increase in our nation’s gross domestic product.

Small business owners know the future of small business depends on change and innovation, which is why they support bold policies that will provide new business opportunities for increased investment in low and no-carbon technologies, as well as those that promote energy efficiency. They realize change and innovation will help stimulate our flagging economy.

MATS Rule Can Create Opportunities for Small Businesses

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Statement by John Arensmeyer on February 16, 2012:

The Environmental Protection Agency today published in the Federal Register its final rule requiring power companies to clean up or close their dirtiest plants—a rule supported by small business owners across the political spectrum, and one that will create much-needed jobs.

National polling we conducted found 76 percent of small employers support the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, refineries and other major emitters. Additionally, 79 percent of small business owners support having clean air and water in their community and 61 percent support standards that move the country towards energy efficiency and clean energy.

A recent report by the Political Economy Research Institute found this new rule—called the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS)—is part of a suite of clean-air standards that will create 1.4 million new jobs over the next five years.

Despite strong support for these standards and their projected economic benefits, some have claimed they will actually stifle job growth. That opposition is misguided. The job market will not suffer from the new rules, and saying that it would is an exercise in political rhetoric that ignores a wide body of research indicating otherwise.

We are pleased to see lawmakers considering small business owners’ views on this issue and working to meet their needs.