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Government Affairs Albany Update

January 16, 2004

Assembly Pay Equity Bills Move

On Monday, January 12th, the first session day, the Assembly wasted no time in advancing their pay equity agenda. Pay equity legislation promoting the concept of comparable worth which passed the Assembly included A.148 (Christensen) which would permit class actions suits under the human rights law, A.737 (Grannis) & A.6237 (Stringer) which would require the concept of comparable worth under the civil service law, A.6252 (Nolan) & A.6701 (John) which would require the concept of comparable worth under the labor law, and A.3998 (DiNapoli) which would require the concept of comparable worth under the human rights law. All of these bills but one passed on votes of 144-0. The New York State Fair Pay Act, A.6701, passed on a 112-32 vote.

Opposition memos can be viewed on the Labor & Human Resources Committee web page located at: www.bcnys.org/inside/laborcom.htm


Renewable Portfolio Case's Phase One Transmission Reliability Study Released

The PSC initiated the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) proceeding after the Governor proposed the program in his 2003 State of the State message. Specifically, he directed the PSC to develop a standard that would require New York's businesses and consumers to buy at least 25 percent of their electricity from "renewable energy resources" (i.e. solar, wind, etc.) by 2013. The Business Council has been an active party in this case and has stated that no recommended decision on the RPS should be issued by the PSC staff before critical studies are completed with respect to cost, feasibility, and reliability. These matters are far too important to be treated as mere ancillary elements of the deliberations. Instead of a rush to judgment that presents the commission with a single up-or-down plan, the DPS staff should give the commission a range of options on what standard should be adopted, when, and whether it should be mandatory or voluntary and at what costs to consumers. Based on the potential considerations, it was decided that the RPS be a top priority of The Business Council in 2004.

The Draft Report on Phase One of The Effects of Integrating Wind Power on Transmission System Planning, Reliability, and Operations was released on January 8, 2004. This report is one of several that will be used in the RPS case to determine the scope and model of an RPS for the State of New York. The Phase One reliability report was jointly commissioned by the New York State Independent System Operator (ISO) and the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). The study is divided into 2 phases: the preliminary overall reliability assessment (phase one) and the system performance evaluation (phase two). Phase one's preliminary report concentrated on the impact of large-scale wind generation on the reliability of the New York State Bulk Power System (NYSBPS).

The Phase One portion of the report studied the world experience with wind generation, fatal flaw analysis (the study of the maximum output of wind generation on existing lines), reliability analysis, and a review of current planning and operation practices by regulators (i.e. the ISO, New York State Reliability Council (NYSRC), and North-American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC)). Phase Two will concentrate on a system performance evaluation and where any modifications need to be made on the existing guidelines and procedures to accommodate integration of large-scale wind generation into the NYSBPS. Phase Two will not be completed and released until the fall of 2004.

The Phase One report studied 101 potential wind sites in New York. The total possible output of these sights was assessed at 10,026 MWs. The potential sites were largely in upstate New York ISO zones in the central and western parts of the state. The report found no sites for wind potential in the H, I, and J ISO zones (Westchester and New York City) and limited wind potential (154 MWs) in the lower Hudson Valley. Long Island estimated wind output is 600 MWs according to the report. The report claimed that 3,300MWs of wind generation, from these varies sites, could be added to the system. This equates to at least 10% of system peak load.

However, there are limits to the availability of wind generation at certain times of the day and year. Wind generation output, according to the study, dips between the months of May and October when New York State experiences its high peaks (above 30,000MWs) and likewise, peak production for wind generation is typically in the morning hours when market demand is lightest. Wind generation output, according to the study, drops significantly in the afternoon hours when New York's demand usually hits its peak (typically between the hours of 1pm to 6pm). In a related vein, since most of the wind prospecting points to viable sites in upstate and western New York, areas where there exist adequate supplies of electricity generation, the supply dilemma of load pockets remains -- how is the power shipped to areas that need it most (i.e New York City, Long Island). Additionally, if large wind projects come on-line in areas that have surplus generation, will a proposed RPS standard mandate the replacement of other baseload generation sources by wind sources. Thus an RPS mandate could run the risk of forcing the purchase of more expensive wind energy in certain parts of the state at higher prices than the power it replaces. The interconnection of these wind projects have not been pinpointed at this time thus the transmission owners are not able to assess the cost of the interconnections. The report does not address the timing of the wind additions to the system. These, and other cost issues, are not addressed in the Phase One report and need to be thoroughly explored before final decisions are made on the RPS.

The report makes several recommendations that may involve the alteration of rules and governing practices established by a number of regulating authorities such as the ISO, NYSRC and others. There also needs to be the development of several universal rules required to govern the addition of wind power to the grid and markets to deal with wind's unique production cycle (i.e. its intermittent output, proper forecasting, etc.). These concerns cannot be properly addressed without the findings and further study needed in Phase Two of the report. Additionally, the cost concern remains one of the greatest factors in the RPS process.

The Phase One report will be submitted to NYSERDA on February 2, 2004. It will then be delivered to the DPS where it will be studied in conjunction with on-going DPS staff cost studies. The Business Council and its members will continue to actively participate in the RPS case and plan on attending any technical conferences and working groups on the RPS Case. After the studies are transmitted to DPS further on-the-record conferences to discuss the RPS studies should be held.