The New York Executive Clean Energy Leadership Insitute- or NY EXCEL - is a new program launched by Skidmore College focused on training business professionals in the Empire State about renewable energy and the opportunities surrounding clean energy investment.
The college will partner with the Syracuse Center of Excellence, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, and the Pace Energy and Climate Center.
The effort is supported with a $400,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. John Rhodes, CEO of NYSERDA, said the NY EXCEL program, by focusing on training existing business leaders, fits into NYSERDA’s mission to advance clean energy technology and use, and also create jobs.
Rhodes added, "We expect Skidmore to bring a variety of business experts from around the region to act as mentors to a set of budding cleantech entrpreneurs drawn from all sorts of sectors, but have experience and interest in the sector."
Dr. William Acker, Executive Director of the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, said New York is already home to a growing cleantech sector and jobs, but that many of those jobs are being created by established, larger companies. Acker said the NY EXCEL program will aid smaller companies by producing trained executives to help lead them forward.
"We have scientists creating ideas everyday funded in a large part by NYSERDA, by other places, that are going to create the jobs of the future. But to have those startups grow in New York state we need to have the executives to lead them," said Acker. "We need to have senior management that comes out of other fields that goes in to the cleantech economy."
Catherine Hill, a professor of business administration at Skidmore's, said the program’s goal of advancing clean energy is necessitated by the recent, real effects of climate change.
"Sandy and Irene accounted for about 80 billion dollars in damages, but none of that touches the inescapable loss of life, lives interrupted and lives ruined by result of those tragedies. Now the cause is clear - it's not that any particular weather event can be blamed on climate change, but I think I see a pattern."
Hill said the executives in the program will learn about what it takes to break into the clean energy sector.
"We're going to help them build cleantech networks, we're going to help them understand energy and gas markets, and explore the often arcane structure of tax-incentives and financing mechanisms," said Hill.
The NY EXCEL program will launch in August as a 30-hour classroom summer residency at Skidmore. Participants will visit and study cleantech sites across the state including wind and solar farms, and will also be required to develop a business plan to start a cleantech business in New York, which will be presented to investors at the conclusion of the course.