The Business Council of the State of New York is opposed to A. 3008A Part N, which would extend the Temporary State Energy and Utility Service Conservation Assessment (often referred to as 18-a). In 2009, when this temporary fee was imposed, there was an explicit promise to the people of the state that this assessment would not be permanent.
The provision (Part N) would extend the 2 percent assessment, which was scheduled to be reduced to 1 percent this year. Extending the fee will cost all energy consumers (businesses, governments, schools, non-profits and residences) in the state $236 million in 2014 and $472 million each year for the next four years.
In 2009 then Governor Paterson advanced the Temporary State Energy and Utility Service Conservation Assessment as a means to encourage conservation, but in truth the funds were used to increase State spending. The increased assessment was a thinly disguised tax.
Before additional assessments are placed on energy, all must take into account that New York's energy rates are considerably above the national average in large part due to a high tax burden.
A 2010 report from the Public Policy Institute shows that state and local taxes and assessments on electric power alone impose a $6.4 billion burden on the state's economy. The study found that that “fully 26.68 percent of New Yorkers' electric bills support state and local taxes and fees. This equates to an average of $614.48 that each household (single family homes, apartments, coops and condos) in New York pays in these taxes through their power bill."
*AFDC – Aid to Families with Dependent Children
*SSI elderly – Social Security Income elderly
This tax is most concerning as lower-income families are more vulnerable to energy costs than higher-income families because energy represents a larger portion of their household budgets.
- Lower-income households are paying nearly a quarter of their income for energy costs. The 27 million lower-income households earning between $10,000 and $30,000, representing 23% of U.S. households, will allocate 23% of their 2011 after-tax income to energy, more than twice the national average of 11%.
- Minority households are disproportionately impacted by higher energy costs. In 2009, 62% of Hispanic households and 67% of black households had average annual incomes below $50,000, compared with 46% of white households and 39% of Asian households. Energy costs represent a much larger fraction of disposable income for households earning less than $50,000 than for wealthier families. Due to these income inequalities, the burdens of energy price increases are imposed disproportionately on black and Hispanic households.
- Senior citizens living on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable to energy price increases. Seniors have the highest per capita residential energy consumption among all age categories. The average basic Social Security income of 31.5 million senior households was $15,443 in 2009. The median income of 25.3 million households with a principal householder aged 65 or older was $31,354.
In the interest of electric and gas customers, The Business Council of the State of New York opposes the extension of 18-a.