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June 1, 2005

Council focuses on several energy priorities in final weeks of legislative session

The Business Council is focusing on several key energy-related issues in the weeks before the legislative is scheduled to end June 21.

“The cost of power in New York State is a significant competitive issue, and our high costs, growing demand, and slowing growth in capacity are worsening this competitive problem,” said Ken Pokalsky, director of environmental and economic development programs.

The Council’s energy-related priorities include:

Replacement power: The Council is committed to maintaining allocations of reduced-rate power currently given to employers that participate in the state’s “replacement power” program.

The state’s “replacement power” program offers up to 445 megawatts of hydropower to industries within a 30-mile radius of the New York Power Authority’s Niagara Power Project. This relatively inexpensive power was allotted by the federal government to replace power that had been generated in that region by a power plant that was destroyed in a rockslide in 1956.

Currently, about 60 manufacturers and other businesses receive low-cost power under the program. One of the key questions to be resolved this year is how currently unallocated power under the program is to be distributed under an extended replacement-power program.

The federal mandate for the program is scheduled to expire at the end of 2005. Current contracts may run through August 2007. The Council is supporting a bill (S.1136-Maziarz/A.2715-Tokasz) that would extend the program understand authority and broaden the allocation criteria.

Economic-development power: The Council is urging legislators to explore ways to increase the amount of power that the New York Power Authority (NYPA) can offer at reduced rates through economic-development programs.

At present, about 70 manufacturers and other New York State businesses receive about 200 megawatts of reduced-cost power under the state’s economic-development power programs.

The Council is supporting a bill (S.4033-Wright/A.7096-Tonko) that would authorize the use of NYPA to extend contracts using a variety of Authority sources. At present, state law specifies that power for the program must come from the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Plant, but that plant is no longer owned by the state.

Power for jobs: The Council is also supporting a bill that would restore flexibility to eligibility criteria for the state’s successful Power for Jobs program.

The program, which has been extended through December of 2002, offers 487 megawatts of reduced-rate power to about 600 participating employers who pledge to use it to create or retain jobs. This legislation would allow NYPA to use alternative criteria such as capital investment, to
extend or reinstate Power for Jobs contracts.