Council urges lawmakers to extend, improve law for siting electricity-generating plants
The Business Council is urging lawmakers to extend, with key improvements, the law that governs how the state considers proposals to site new electricity-generating plants.
The current law, Article X of the state Public Service Law, is due to expire at the end of December.
The Council is urging Albany to approve a bill (S.6230-A/Wright, A.9826/Tonko) that would extend the law through 2007 while expediting key parts the plant-siting process, said Johnny Evers, The Business Council's legislative analyst specializing in energy.
The Business Council, energy-related associations, energy and generating companies, and other businesses have long argued that New York must site more power plants.
For example, in February, The Business Council's research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, released a report showing that New York must site at least a dozen new plants with a capacity of at least 9,200 megawatts within the next five years to sustain growth, foster competition, and ensure reliability. The study, The Power to Grow.
Expediting the state's plant-siting process is considered essential to easing New York's electricity shortage, Evers noted.
The Wright-Tonko bill would accelerate the plant-siting process by setting a time frame for key parts of the process. For example, the bill would:
- Establish a 14-day period within which parties that raise an issue related to a plant proposal may introduce evidence on that issue
- Establish a 60-day period after the filing of a preliminary outline of the proposal within which the developer and interested parties may develop "stipulations." Stipulations are issues related to the proposed plant and its impact that the developer and interested parties agree should be addressed as the proposal is considered.
- Require the board in most cases to make a final decision within eight months of receiving a completed application, and within 60 days of receiving a recommendation from the administrative law judge hearing the case.
At present, there are no such time limits, Evers noted.
"New York needs electricity to support growth, drive prices down, and keep our systems reliable, and the need has never been greater," Evers said. "New York needs to send the proper signals to the marketplace, and that means embracing a more expeditious plant-siting law."
The bill would also:
- Create new incentives to encourage the redevelopment of brownfields. Brownfields are abandoned or underused industrial or commercial which potential redevelopers eschew because they may be forced to pay cleanup costs and/or damages for wastes deposited by previous owners.
- Require that legislative-style hearings and issues conferences be conducted in accordance with rules and regulations similar to those used by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The bill would also keep current provisions for public input into the plant-siting process, and it would ensure proper environmental reviews of proposed plants, Evers noted.