Honorable John O' Mara
Public Service Commission
Empire State Plaza
Agency Building 3, 20th Floor
Albany, New York 12223
Dear Chairman O'Mara:
It is my understanding that Niagara Mohawk Corporation's "PowerChoice" restructuring agreement may be voted on by the three member board of the Public Service Commission (PSC) at the next scheduled deliberative session, Wednesday, February 4.
As you may know, The Business Council of New York State, a broad based, statewide membership organization of over 4,000 companies, chambers of commerce and trade associations supports and urges your approval of Niagara Mohawk's restructuring agreement reached with the staff of the Public Service Commission. The Business Council believes that PowerChoice provides the best plan for an equitable and responsible transition to a deregulated industry and competitive market.
As I stated before the Assembly Energy Committee in November, 1997, The Business Council feels strongly that the rate savings included within the proposed plan for large industrial customers will provide an incentive for businesses to stay and expand their facilities in New York. The Business Council has said publicly during the past few years that the manufacturing base in New York State has been declining at an alarming rate; unfortunately, when these jobs disappear, they seldom come back. If approved by the commission, however, PowerChoice will provide stability to the communities and consumers that are clearly the most energy intensive, while at the same time saving valuable jobs. If PowerChoice is not approved, we continue with a dangerous policy that risks important jobs and puts other, smaller customers in the position of paying extra costs for those that are forced to leave the Niagara Mohawk power grid.
Additionally, it is imperative that the final settlement approved by the board does not alter or weaken Niagara Mohawk's ability to finance the deal to buyout or refinance contracts it holds with the Independent Power Producers. This agreement reached with the Independent Power Producers is a carefully worked formula that allows for the substantial rate cuts proposed within Powerchoice. Any amendments to the plan should be forward looking and not threaten the utility's economic viability or competitiveness in future open markets.
Finally, as the commission completes its review of Niagara Mohawk's restructuring agreement, I would request that the board consider the impact of additional companies being forced to close their doors in New York State. We must move swiftly to implement competition and begin where it will do the most good for our economy and communities. Simply, The Business Council believes PowerChoice achieves this and we therefore respectfully request your positive consideration in this regard.
Daniel B. Walsh
President/CEO, The Business Council of New York State