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August 16, 2001

Council seeks 'intervenor' status in two power-plant application cases

The Business Council is seeking a formal role as an advocate for siting new power plants in two separate cases pending before the state Siting Board.

"As an advocate for industrial and commercial interests, and as a proponent for sound energy policy that reflects the needs of New York's growing economy, we believe our voice should be added to the record" in these cases, Daniel B. Walsh, president/CEO of The Business Council said in July 27 letters applying for "intervenor" status in these cases.

The Council's goal is to ensure that, in both cases, the Siting Board considers broad arguments about New York's need to increase its baseline electricity-generating capacity, said Johnny Evers, The Business Council's legislative analyst specializing in energy.

In the past, typical intervenors have included municipalities and labor unions that have supported proposals because they increase local tax bases and create jobs, as well as environmental and local advocacy groups, which have voiced some opposition to new power plants, Evers said.

"No organization has ever intervened to make the case that New York needs more power plants to sustain the reliability of its system, to make competitive markets function properly, and to drive prices down," Evers said.

"We want to make broad economic arguments part of the records in these cases so the Siting Board considers the broader economic implications of power-plant proposals."

The Public Policy Institute of New York State, The Council's research affiliate, is conducting new research on energy issues in New York State in support of this effort. A recent Institute survey shows that New York employers believe it is important to add generating capacity. For information on the survey.

The Council is seeking intervenor status in two cases.

In one, Brookhaven Energy is seeking approval to build and operate a 580-megawatt natural gas-fired plant in Brookhaven, Suffolk County. In the other, PSEG Power New York, Inc., is seeking approval to build and operate a 750-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Bethlehem, Albany County.

Article X of the state Public Service Law, which outlines how the state will approve or reject proposals to build new plants, allows interested parties to seek status as "intevenors." Such intervenors become official parties in the Article X hearing process, and can submit testimony, analysis, and research in support of, or in opposition to, the proposed plants.

The Council may also seek intervenor status in in other applications pending before the Siting Board, Evers said.

Under the Public Service Law, companies proposing power plants are required to provide up to $300,000 to support the research and advocacy of intervenors. However, The Council has not applied for these funds, Evers noted.