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August 17, 2006

Governor signs Power for Jobs extension

The Governor has signed into law a bill extending the state's Power for Jobs and Economic Development Power programs after weeks of encouragement from the Council and its members.

The bill (S.8440-Wright/A.12013-Rules-Tonko), which the Legislature approved this spring with strong Business Council support, extends the successful program through June 2007.

“We're very pleased the Governor signed the bill,” said Ken Pokalsky, director of environmental and economic development programs for the Council. “This extension gives additional certainty to businesses for whom the lower cost power is a crucial competitiveness issue, and gives the legislature and the next Governor more time to fashion a comprehensive reform and extension."

The program helps New York businesses purchase energy at a discount, helping to alleviate the competitive disadvantage of New York’s higher-than-average energy rates.

In addition to extending the power programs through the end of the current fiscal year, the new legislation authorizes the New York Power Authority to reimburse Power for Jobs program participants for excessive Power for Jobs power costs incurred during 2006. The law also allows manufacturers operating with Power for Jobs contract extensions to opt into the energy rebate savings option under the program.

The signing of the bill is the end of a contentious battle to extend the program. Earlier this year, the Legislature approved an extension of the program as part of the state budget, but Governor Pataki vetoed it, saying that the Legislature failed to provide full funding for the extension. He also cited constitutional concerns rooted in the bill's attempts to make fiscal appropriations.

The veto was overridden, but the Governor said the override was invalid for constitutional reasons.