Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Sept. 23, 2009

Business Council calls for long-term economic development power program

ALBANY— “A long term commitment to providing competitively priced power to energy-intensive businesses should be an essential part of the state's economic strategy,” said Ken Pokalsky, senior director of government affairs of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Our members tell us, year after year, that energy costs are one of the state's most significant competitiveness problems, usually ranking second or third – behind health care and taxes, particularly real property taxes – as their most significant cost-of-doing business concerns.”

“On average, electric power costs in New York are 40 percent above national averages for industrial and commercial businesses, even after the benefits of NYPA hydropower sales to business are considered, meaning that power costs for the typical business is even further above national averages,” added Pokalsky.

Pokalsky delivered testimony on low cost power programs to a joint legislative hearing in Niagara Falls.

Six hundred businesses in the state representing 350-thousand jobs depend on the state's economic development power programs. These are high value jobs, largely in manufacturing, that pay higher than average wages.

“For the past several years, we have urged the Administration and Legislature to adopt a permanent replacement program for “Power for Jobs,” but instead we continue to limp along with twelve month - and, this year, a ten and one half month – extensions,” said Pokalsky. “The lack of long term certainty regarding the availability and cost of economic development power, and the erosion of the value of this program for many program participants, make it difficult for businesses to make significant new capital commitments in the state.”

The Business Council also called on the legislature to lower energy costs for both businesses and residential customers by eliminating taxes and surcharges that add to monthly bills, including: the two percent gross receipts tax on transmission and distribution for residential customers; the so-called “18-A” assessments passed this year which add $500 million to energy costs; the system benefit charge; renewable portfolio standard and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The full testimony is available here.