Energy Committee Newsletter - May 29, 2001
- ATHENS PLANT GETS ARMY CORP OF ENGINEERS APPROVAL
- ASSEMBLY ANNOUNCES ENERGY PLAN TO RE-REGULATE THE MARKET
- INDEPENDENT SYSTEM OPERATOR RELEASES UPDATED SUMMER OUTLOOK
- PRESIDENT ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDERS ON ENERGY
- STATE ENERGY PLAN
- NYSERDA STATEWIDE ENERGY $MART FORUMS
- PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
The Athens Generating Company, a subsidiary of PG & E National Energy Group, was awarded its final permits by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on Friday, May 18th. The permits allow them to begin construction on the $500 million, 1080 Megawatt electricity generating facility. The plant, which will be natural gas-fired, will be built in Athens, Greene County near the Hudson River.
The company has been seeking approval for the plant for about four years. It will take approximately 30 months to build the plant, however the company is still hoping to have it operating by the summer of 2003.
In an effort to comply with environmental concerns the project was altered last year to reduce the amount of water to be taken from the Hudson River from about 4.2 million gallons per day to 180,000 million per day. The owners have also agreed to several stipulations to lessen the visual impact of the plant. These stipulations include painting the sides of the plant "terra brown" and the roof "hunter green". Opponents of the plant have protested the visual impact of the plant on the Hudson River and surrounding areas.
Earlier this year Sithe Energies, Inc. sited a new plant in Scriba, Oswego County making it the second project through the Article X process. Athens was awarded certification by the Siting Board in June 2000 but had been waiting for Army Corp approval until May 18th. The final permits issued by the Army Corp allow construction to begin on the Athens plant immediately.
The Assembly majority has proposed reregulating energy markets in New York State.
At a press conference on May 22nd, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver discussed the New York State Transitional Energy Plan (NYSTEP), an Assembly plan which Speaker Silver said is designed to provide rate relief, consumer protection, and an energy supply that secures economic growth during New York's transition to competitive markets.
"[NYSTEP is] a broad, step-by-step approach to available, affordable, safe and clean energy," Speaker Silver said in a release.
The Business Council noted, however, that the plan would not advance the state's most urgent energy need, which is to add more generating capacity.
Proposal details: NYSTEP would, among other things:
- Mandate a 25 percent cut in the cost of the first 200 kilowatt-hours used each month by residential customers.
- Require utilities to write plans for buying power that limit customers' risks of higher costs, with the additional requirement that utilities not pass additional costs on to customers without prior approval from the state Public Service Commission (PSC).
- Enhance the state's successful Power for Jobs program, under which employers can get reduced-rate power if they promise to use it to create or retain jobs.
- The Assembly plan would re-direct to this program 400 megawatts of additional generating capacity expected to be created by upgrades scheduled at the Niagara and St. Lawrence hydro power projects.
- Create a new state Institute for Energy, which would help energy technology companies bring new products to market.
- Establish a five-year, $1.5 billion program to support conservation, renewable energy sources, and new energy technologies. Earlier this year, the PSC approved a new $150 million annual energy tax for this purpose.
- Require that members of the PSC be elected. Currently, commissioners are appointed by the Governor subject to Senate confirmation.
- Supplement the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to help low-income families and seniors pay rising energy costs.
The Business Council's reservations: Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh expressed concerns about the plan, saying it places too little emphasis on "the one issue that's absolutely critical right now: getting more generating capacity on line."
The case for increasing capacity: Many different parties have argued that New York State must add more generating capacity and that this should be a top policy priority. These include the following people and organizations, highlighted in articles accessible on The Business Councils Website;
- The Public Service Commission
- New York's Independent System Operator, a non-profit group that oversees New York's energy transmission grid and energy markets
- energy utilities themselves
- Alfred E. Kahn, former PSC chairman and an internationally recognized expert in deregulation
- New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
The New York State Independent System Operator (ISO) stated on May 31st that New York State, and in particular, New York City, should be able to make it through even the hottest weather this summer with enough electricity. ISO President William Museler attributes the state's reliability to a number of factors including the addition of 400 Megawatts of power from small generators that the New York Power Authority installed in New York City earlier this year. Also a factor in maintaining reliability are the upgrades made at several existing generating units and transmission facilities and the addition of Emergency Demand Response Programs by the ISO which help shed peak load at critical times. The ISO is quick to point out that, although New York will maintain its reliability this summer, additional power plants are needed immediately due to the razor thin margins.
The ISO's outlook incorporates a long-range weather forecast which predicts that the summer of 2001 will be hotter than the 10-, 20-, and 30-year norms. However, the forecast does not anticipate a summer as hot as 1999.
The ISO states that for the months of May through October 2001, New York will need an installed capacity of 36,132 MW per month. Installed capacity refers to the total amount of electrical power that power suppliers commit to bidding into the New York state market. The installed capacity should be 18% above peak load and is a requirement established by the New York State Reliability Council. For June of this year 35,955 MW of installed capacity has been secured leaving a deficit of 177 MW. By July the deficit will be eradicated when installed capacity reaches 36,240 MW.
A similar situation is evident in New York City where installed capacity is currently 8,236 MW, short 192 MW of the required 8,428 MW. By July the deficit will be overcome when installed capacity is increased to 8,734 MW.
The ISO predicts that New York could be almost 2,000 MW short of supply within the next three years. ISO President Museler stated that because of the 24-to-36 month lead time to build large baseload plants, New York needs to start to get plants approved and built as soon as possible or the state will run into severe shortages for years to come.
President George Bush has released two Executive Order dealing with his National Energy Policy released in mid-May. The orders entitled; "Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use" and "Actions to Expedite Energy-Related Projects" were released on May 18th. The orders serve a dual purpose; 1). to attempt to streamline and expedite the process of federally licensing energy projects and 2). to encourage federal agencies to take into account the significance of agency actions on energy policy and supply.
The orders establish an interagency task force that will "monitor and assist the agencies in their efforts to expedite their review of permits or similar actions." It will be charged with assisting agencies with setting up mechanisms to coordinate federal, state and local permitting. The task force, which will be chaired by the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, will be housed at the Department of Energy.
The orders also direct the various federal agencies to examine the impact of federal regulations on energy supply and use. Agencies are directed to prepare a "Statement of Energy Effects" that will detail the effects of "certain regulatory actions on energy supply, distribution, or use." The President is requiring federal departments to submit this information to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of Management and Budget. The plans will allow these agencies to review possible actions that may have an adverse effect on energy supply, distribution, or use.
At the May
21st meeting of The Business Councils Energy Committee, we heard
from a representative of the State Energy Planning Board who is compiling
the information to be included in the 2002 State Energy Plan (SEP).
If anyone is interested in submitting topics for inclusion in the
SEP, they must be received by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) by June 18th.
The Business Council will submit comments on the SEP. Interested members should contact The Council as soon as possible if they have detailed suggestions for our filing. As noted above, comments can also be submitted directly to NYSERDA.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has four remaining dates for its New York Energy $mart forums. The forums will be held in Rochester (June 7th), Syracuse (June 14), Poughkeepsie (June 21), and Albany (June 28).
The forums will highlight the details and funding opportunities for the following programs: Opportunities for Energy Efficiency Service Programs; Renewables, Distributed Generation, and Research and Development; Doing Business with NYSERDA; Residential Energy Affordability, and; Overview of NYSERDA's New York Energy $mart Program.
The programs are day-long forums sponsored by NYSERDA to highlight the New York Energy $mart Program and seek public participation. Of particular interest to industrial and commercial members are the areas of energy efficiency, renewables and distributed generation.
information contact NYSERDA or access their events section on their
The Public Service Commission (PSC) met in New York City on May 23rd.
The commission reviewed:
Case 00E2054 - In the Matter of a Status Report on the Demand/Supply Component of the Departments Electric Price and Reliability Task Force Including Recommendations for Specific Utility Actions on the Demand Side.
the following topics under the case:
interval meters; real-time pricing programs for each of the investor owned utilities;
public awareness and education plans by the utilities in regards to these programs; and, Con Eds direct load control pilot program targeted for small commercial and industrial customers for this summer.
More information on these topics can be found on the PSC web page: http://www.dps.state.ny.us/index.html
The next meeting of the PSC will be held on June 27th at 10am in Albany.