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Legislative Memo

Heather Briccetti
Vice President of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7517 x203
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

A.5542 (O'Mara)

  Support

SUBJECT:

Siting of Major Electric Generating Facilities

 

A.5542 (O'Mara)

DATE:

April 8, 2008

 

The Business Council of New York State believes that re-enactment of a streamlined Article X law for siting major power plants is an essential step toward meeting the state's long-term energy needs, and as such strongly supports this legislation.

With the expiration of the Article X on December 31, 2002 the State of New York has been without a program to expedite the review of major electricity generating facilities. This situation sends the wrong message to the generation and development community that New York's legislative/regulatory climate is NOT conducive to investment in generation.

The re-authorization of a siting law under A.5542 first step in encouraging major electricity generating infrastructure in New York State. A.5542 maintains many of the provisions of the lapsed Article X law thus showing continuity in New York State.

Specifically, A.5542 would maintain the 80 megawatt threshold under which projects would be governed by the process. The law would maintain the level of intervenor funding at $300,000 for a project while allocating $50,000 for interveners in the preliminary stages in order to study the impact of the project. A.5542 maintains the broad participation procedures established under Article X and encourages an open and informative public process under which the certification of the project is deliberated.

Further, the legislation maintains the provisions that made Article X one of the most comprehensive power plant siting laws in the country: an application phase; a public comment period; the granting of party status to interested constituents; an ongoing examination of myriad of issues (environmental, traffic, visual, etc.) related to the project and a detailed summation of impacts – all prior to the certification of the project. A.5542 is a balanced approach towards insuring New York has a law in place governing the construction of needed electricity generating facilities.

Failure to enact a siting law is tantamount to ignoring future energy needs, especially when financial markets become more conducive to investment in energy projects. By failing to put in place a law governing the siting of power plants New York runs the risk of running headlong into future energy shortages by discouraging investment in the years prior to tighter electricity margins.

Over the past several years, New York has had to take dramatic steps to meet its growing power needs. The state's dire need for electricity led the New York Power Authority to place emergency generation in New York City. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and NYSERDA have instituted peak load reduction programs to curtail load on high consumption days. While these stopgap measures have helped to avoid brownouts or blackouts, the key to alleviating shortages of power will continue to be the addition of baseload generating capacity.

New York's business and industry relies on an affordable and reliable supply of electricity, and New York State needs significantly more electric generating capacity to keep pace with the state's growing demand for power.

In 2001, The Business Council published The Power To Grow, a report detailing the adverse impact of a failure to site and build more generation in New York State. If we fail to site more plants, New York's residential, commercial and industrial consumers will face shortages, higher prices and risk having demand exceed supply. We have monitored the power markets over the last three years and have reaffirmed the need for more in-state generation. Similar findings have been made by other leading energy and business groups from around the state.

For the above mentioned reasons, The Business Council strongly supports A.5542 and urges its adoption.