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Government Affairs Albany Update

March 8, 2002

Sole Proprietor Bill to See Committee Action

A bill that would make group health insurance sold through chambers of commerce and trade associations available to sole proprietors has been put on the Senate Insurance Committee agenda for next week. The bill S.3795-B will be considered by the Insurance Committee at its meeting on Monday, March 11 at 12:30 p.m. in Room 123 of the Capitol. The Business Council strongly supports the legislation. The bill enjoys broad sponsorship in the Senate, including the prime sponsor Jim Seward, along with Senators Alesi, Bonacic, DeFrancisco, Farley, Kuhl, Larkin, Maziarz, McGee, Morahan, Padavan, Rath, Saland, Stafford, Trunzo, Volker and Wright.

Another Assembly Member Announces Retirement

Assembly member Ed Sullivan became the second veteran legislator in two weeks to announce his intention to retire at the end of his term. Sullivan, Chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, represents the 69th A.D. on the west side of Manhattan. Sullivan was first elected to the Assembly in 1976.

Action Needed on Hazardous Waste Fees

If you have not yet contacted the State Legislature regarding your opposition to the Governor's proposed hazardous waste program fee surcharges, it is important that you do so next week. We urge you to contact both your local representatives as well as the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means chairman and staff.

Draft letter and contact information

The legislative fiscal staffs are in the process of reviewing all of the Governor's fee proposals, so it is important that you let them know how the propose surcharges would affect your New York State operations.

As part of the superfund/brownfield program amendments included in the Executive Budget, the Governor has proposed $20 million in new surcharges imposed on generators of hazardous wastes. These surcharges range from $4,000 to $360,000 per year, per facility, based on the volume of annual waste generation. These represent roughly a ten-fold increase in existing hazardous waste program fees, and for some generators will result in a per ton fee as high as $400. The budget proposal also includes an additional $6,000 per year surcharge on entities that generate more than 15 tons per year of hazardous waste –– a fee that hits many small businesses.

Our Summary of the Executive Budget Fee Proposal

Focus on Power for Jobs Extension

Governor Pataki reiterated his support for continuation of the Power for Jobs program, announcing this week that he will be introducing legislation to extend the program by three years for participants in the second and third rounds of power allocations. Without the extension, these power allocations will begin to expire this month. While the bill text is not yet available, the Governor said that it would make another 183 megawatts of reduced cost power available, and will enable employers with expiring Power for Jobs contracts to apply for new allocations. Under this proposal, the New York Power Authority would purchase the wholesale electricity for the program from private energy suppliers. Power for Jobs customers would also be offered the option of choosing an alternative retail supplier of their electricity.

Also this week, The Business Council testified before a joint Assembly hearing on the Power for Jobs program. Speaking on behalf of The Business Council were Patrick Greeley, Controller of Winfield Industries in Buffalo, and Clifford Ross and Andy Nolan, President and Controller, respectively, of Eastern Castings in Cambridge. Both companies have current Power for Jobs contracts that are due to expire this spring. Greeley and Ross both said that the program provides critical cost reductions, and that continuation of the program is important to their economic success over the next three years. The Business Council staff will also be submitting written comments for the hearing record. Assemblyman Paul Tonko, chair of the Assembly Energy Committee, who also chaired the joint hearing, stressed the need for additional program participants to express their support for program extension. Public Service Commission and NYPA staff also testified on the program's performance and options for extending the Power for Jobs program.

Business Council Files Testimony on State Energy Plan

On March 5th, The Business Council filed comments with the State Energy Planning Board at a public hearing in Albany. The Planning Board is comprised of the heads of the following five state Agencies; the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Environmental Conservation, Transportation, Economic Development and Public Service. NYSERDA's President serves as the Chair of the Planning Board.

The comments were broken down into seven key areas;

The points were reflective of the comments The Business Council filed last June with the State Planning Board (at the beginning of the process). The key area of concentration was the need for more electrical generation. The Business Council stated that the Plan needs to better forecast the need for more electricity and thus reflect a need for more generation and infrastructure. In this area we stated that the draft Plan offers a "mid-range forecast" for peak demand growth of 0.68% a year—and a "high-end forecast" of only 1.1% growth a year. Yet peak demand has grown an average of 2.1% over the past five years. It's grown 1.8% a year on average over the last 20 years—for total growth over that period of 43.1%. This unrealistically low forecast for peak demand leads the Plan to incorporate projections for increases in reserve margins that are overly optimistic. These low projections, in turn, point the Plan toward lower projected generation capacity than we believe is necessary for the state, and thus mask the very urgent need to bring new plants on line over the next five years. The Business Council submitted copies of its research report, "The Power to Grow", as part of its testimony. This report makes the case for siting at least 9,200 megawatts of electrical generation over the next five years.

In addition, we stated that the Plan needs to stress fuel diversity such as support for the State's coal and nuclear powered electricity generating facilities. Also of concern to The Business Council are the impacts of environmental initiatives and proposed regulations on the cost of energy. Additionally, the state needs to pursue changes in the Article X siting law to make the process faster.

The Business Council's testimony and a press release on our submission access

The March 5th hearing in Albany concluded the public hearing period however, written comments will be accepted through March 15th. Comments should be directed to the State Energy Planning Board c/o NYSERDA. The Planning Board anticipates a final State Energy Plan by this summer.