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August 20, 1999 

Business-friendly siting deal reached

In a significant win for business, Governor Pataki and legislative leaders have agreed to clarify how the state will approve or reject proposed new power-plant sites.

The Council had urged lawmakers to close a gap in a 1992 state law designed to create "one-stop shopping" for entities seeking approval for new plants.

That law created a siting board to review applications by companies seeking to build new, more efficient power plants. But the state failed to petition the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to give this board authority to issue permits.

No major power plants have been built in New York in five years despite increasing demand, and significant new growth in demand is expected. More than a dozen proposals to build and repower plants are pending.

The bill will: clarify that both the siting board and the Department of Environmental Conservation may issue environmental permits for construction of major electric generating facilities; establish a pre-application process to let interested parties participate more in the siting process; add the chair of the state Energy Research and Development Authority to the siting board; and authorize a study of the reliability of the state's transmission and distribution systems.

Bill sponsors are Senator James Wright (R-Watertown) and Assemblyman Paul Tonko (D-Amsterdam).