Two pieces of legislation have been passed recently by the U.S. Congress contain some provisions that will provide financial incentives for distributed energy technologies including biomass, wind, solar and geothermal. The Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 [H.R. 1380] and the 2004 American Jobs Creation Act [H.R. 4520] have been signed into law by President Bush. Some of these incentives are new, some are extensions of incentives that have lapsed with the inability of Congress to pass a comprehensive energy bill in the past two years.
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Chicago’s locally owned businesses generate 70 percent more local economic impact per square foot than chain stores, according to a new study. The study, conducted by the firm Civic Economics, analyzed ten locally owned restaurants, retail stores, and service providers in the Andersonville neighborhood on Chicago’s north side and compared them with ten national chains competing in the same categories. Continue reading
On October 14, 2004 the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a joint statement related to new FCC rules to facilitate the widespread adoption of broadband internet access over electric power lines, known as Access BPL [Action by the Commission, October 14, 2004 by Report and Order (FCC 04-245)]. The BPL ruling will not only provide households with another option in broadband internet service but it is expected to lead utilties to provide more efficient management of their power supply system, and ensure increased operational reliability. Continue reading
A coalition of organizations in Austin, Texas, released a report this week that concludes that big-box retailers impose significant costs on the community. It recommends that the city scrutinize big-box projects more thoroughly and adopt a long-range plan to strengthen locally owned businesses. The report reviews and refutes several of the findings of another big-box study commissioned by the city and released in June. Continue reading
Newsstand owners in New York City have filed a legal challenge to a new law that would transfer ownership of the city’s 300 independent newsstands to a single corporation. Under the law, which was backed by the mayor and endorsed by all but three city councilors, the eclectic newsstands will be replaced by identical kiosks under central ownership. Five companies, including JCDecaux, which manages "street furniture" in 3,500 cities worldwide, are bidding for the contract. Continue reading
A new report prepared for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission concludes that retail development costs cities more in public services than it generates in revenue. The report, produced by Randall Gross of Development Economics in Washington, D.C., reviews and summarizes the findings of fiscal impact studies conducted in eight central Ohio communities between 1997 and 2003. Continue reading
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case early next year that could set new limits on the ability of cities to condemn and take property for private redevelopment projects. There have been many cases in recent years where local governments have seized homes and small businesses to make way for chain retail development. In downtown Port Chester, New York, for example, bulldozers are currently leveling a 27-acre site that once housed numerous small businesses. Continue reading
On a 5-2 vote, the City Council in Flagstaff, Arizona, a city of 53,000 people about two hours north of Phoenix, approved an ordinance controlling the size, location, and community impacts of big-box stores. The action is "important to the long-term vitality of Flagstaff," said Becky Daggett, director of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, a citizens group that worked for the ordinance’s passage. Continue reading
On September 24, 2004 the California Air Resources Board announced that they had approved a landmark regulation that requires automakers to begin selling vehicles with reduced greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2009.
Each year’s delay in setting three new Department of Energy appliance efficiency standards costs consumers and businesses billions of dollars in higher energy bills, according to a new study by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project [ http://www.standardsasap.org/] Implementing new efficiency standards for residential furnaces and boilers, commercial air conditioners, and distribution transformers could decrease our annual energy use significantly – enough electricity to power about 330,000 typical U.S homes and natural gas to heat about 170,0