The Business Council opposes this legislation that would create a “North Country Power Authority,” which would either purchase or take by eminent domain National Grid's existing electric power transmission and distribution infrastructure located within certain Franklin and St. Lawrence county townships.
The legislative intent is to provide lower cost, and more reliable, electric power to business and residents within the new “service territory” of this Authority. The Business Council questions whether these goals could be achieved by this legislation.
Among our concerns:
- Other local power authorities in New York are able to reduce costs for their customers primarily because they receive allocations of low cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority. We are unaware of any significant amount of unallocated NYPA hydropower that would be available for this new authority. It is unclear how the Authority would provide any significant cost reductions if it had to purchase power for resale through competitive wholesale markets.
- We would oppose two other possible cost-savings mechanisms that could materialize from this legislation – a shifting of costs, such as the recovery of “stranded costs” related to industry restructuring, onto other in-state energy users, and a shifting of real property tax liabilities onto other commercial, industrial and residential tax payers.
- We question how and when the newly formed Authority would have in place all the necessary business infrastructure to serve its customer base, including administration, customer services, line maintenance and others – all of which would be necessary to meet the critical goal of a reliable energy delivery system.
- We are concerned about the precedent of creating a new public authority, with unclear oversight by the Public Service Commission, to partially replace and compete with private sector energy utilities.
Finally, while we share the sponsor's concerns about the anti-competitive impact of the state's high electric power cost, we oppose this legislation because it does nothing to address the root causes of those costs – the need for new generation and transmission infrastructure; inflexible environmental regulations; ever-increasing state-imposed taxes, fees and assessments; and sky-high local real property taxes.
In summary, The Business Council questions whether this legislation would serve the interests of affected North Country commercial and business ratepayers. For these reasons, The Business Council opposes adoption of S.2813 (Aubertine)/A.6694-A (Russell).