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Legislative Memo

Darren Suarez
Director of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.5304-A (Ball) / A.9573 (Latimer)

Support

SUBJECT:

Prohibits the Ownership of an Electric Corporation by any Foreign Based Person, Corporation or Entity

 

DATE:

June 4, 2012

 

This legislation would prohibit the public service commission from granting its permission or approval, for the generation and distribution of electricity to residential customers, to any electric corporation that is a foreign based person, corporation or entity, or the majority of which is owned by foreign based persons, corporations and/or entities. In the event that an electric corporation, holding a franchise issued pursuant to this article, becomes a foreign based person, corporation or entity, or becomes majority owned by foreign based persons, corporations and/or entities, such franchise shall immediately be revoked by the commissioner.

Public Service Law § 70 establishes that no electric corporation shall transfer ownership to any other person or corporation or contract for the operation of its works and system, without the written consent of the commission.

The Commission will not approve the transfer or lease of a franchise until it approves such transfer is determined to be in the "public interest."  The Public Service Commission will not make a determination that the transfer of ownership is in the “public’s interest” until after extensive review, including but not limited to review by administrative law judges, public hearing, audits and a comprehensive review of the transfer and the company seeking the transfer.

There is no evidence that the Commission takes this responsibility lightly. There is no substantive evidence that the commission has approved of a transfer that has not been in the “public interest.” The Business Council fails to understand if the transfer of the ownership can be determined to be in the “public interest,” why should it matter if the company is foreign based. To be found in the public interest the transfer will result in a net positive benefit, will not harm ratepayers, and will not jeopardize the transferred franchises ability to meet their public interest obligations.

If the acquisition of a public utility by any company that has demonstrated the ability through historical record and economic stability, the ability to reduce the burden on ratepayers, the transfer should be allowed to occur. To prohibit foreign investment will limit the value of the electric transmission company and will ultimately effect ratepayers and the investors of the acquired transmission company.