August 24, 2000
State's energy needs will be focus of discussion at Council's Annual Meeting
New York State's current and future energy needs will be the focus of a discussion among top energy executives from across the state at The Business Council's Annual Meeting Thursday, Sept. 21.
"Energy-- Now and Into the Next Century" is the topic of the discussion, which is scheduled to run from 9:30-11 a.m. Sept. 21. The Business Council's Annual Meeting, which is open to all members, will run from Wednesday to Friday Sept. 20-22 at The Sagamore in Bolton Landing on Lake George.
Scheduled participants in the dialogue on energy are:
- Stephen B. Bram, senior vice president, Consolidated Edison
- Robert B. Catell, chairman and CEO of KeySpan Energy
- Robert Fernandez, chief counsel, New York Independent System Operator
- Michael R. Kansler, chief operating officer of Entergy Nuclear's Northeast Operations
- Ronald Liberty, Office of Electricity, New York State Public Service Commission
- Thomas Richards, president and CEO, Rochester Gas & Electric Corp.
- Scott Weiner, senior vice president, Sithe Energies Inc.
Ed Dague, managing editor of WNYT-TV in Albany, will moderate the discussion.
The high cost of electric energy in New York State has long been a concern to all of the business community.
The 1999-2000 edition of Just the Facts, an annual compendium of data about New York State's business climate prepared by The Public Policy Institute, noted that New York's industrial electricity costs in 1995-96 (the most recent year for which data are available) were 55 percent above the national average.
During the same year, Just the Facts reported, New York had the nation's highest average commercial electricity costs and ranked 56 percent above the national average.
Earlier this year, with strong support from The Business Council, lawmakers moved to ease this burden by repealing the state's gross receipts tax on energy for manufacturers and by significantly reducing the tax for all other customers.
Still, in recent months, widespread concern has remained about these high costs, about the possibility that a shortage of power in the coming winter may lead to even higher price spikes for all customers, and about the need to site more power plants to ensure an adequate supply of electricity in the long term.
The Business Council has argued that New York State needs to take steps to increase its supply of energy, especially by expediting the siting of new power plants. The Council also is urging lawmakers to increase the supply of energy with steps that do not undermine the reliability New York currently enjoys, and by doing so in a way that does not needlessly intrude on New York's unfolding transition to a fully deregulated free market in electricity.
The Business Council is also evaluating the current "systems benefit charge" on utility bills, an energy tax that is due to expire next June. The SBC adds $78 million to all New Yorkers' energy bills to support research and development, low-income residential customers, and technology programs. There are already several proposals to extend and/or expand this tax, even though a statutorily mandated evaluation of it to be conducted by the state Public Service Commission is not due for completion until the fall.
The Business Council's Annual Meeting, which is open to all Business Council members, brings together New York State's top business leaders, elected officials, and senior legislative staff for wide-ranging discussions on issues of interest to business.
At the meeting, Council leaders will outline future plans and discuss key legislative issues of interest to the business community that are expected to be addressed in Albany in the year ahead.