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'Power For Jobs' reform passes in State Senate

by jmaloni
Tue, Mar 8th 2011 06:45 pm

ReCharge NY program to provide long-term stability for employers

Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-C-Newfane, today announced that the New York State Senate has passed legislation (S.3164) backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to enact significant reforms to Power For Jobs, a key program that provides low-cost hydropower to support economic development.

"The passage of this legislation will enable more businesses across New York to access cheap electricity to create jobs," said Maziarz, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. "The program has been renewed on an annual basis for several years, but we've needed a permanent solution so businesses can plot their growth. The passage of this legislation ensures that businesses across New York will have the stability needed to plan long term."

The measure, which was sponsored by Maziarz last year, would create a new, permanent 910-megawatt "ReCharge NY" program. Eligible businesses and institutions that receive Recharge NY power allocations would be allowed to enter into contracts with the New York Power Authority for up to seven years, which would provide long-term certainty to encourage new investment and expansion. Recharge NY would reserve at least 350 MW for economic development in the National Grid, NYSEG, and RG&E service territories and 200 MW to attract new investment, thus ensuring that the bill would result in both job retention and job creation. In addition, Recharge NY would reserve 100 MW for not-for-profits, such as hospitals, thus protecting jobs in institutions that provide critical services to our communities.

The new program would be bolstered by the re-purposing of 455 MW of power used currently by rural and domestic consumers, thus more than doubling the size of the current program. Any resulting impact to rural and domestic consumers on their electric bills would be mitigated by the provision of $420 million over five years, and $30 million annually beginning in the sixth year, by the New York Power Authority to utility providers. Starting in year two of this transition, up to $8 million would be provided as supplemental discounts for agricultural producers who receive electric service at a residential rate. The temporary 18-a utility assessment (which Maziarz strongly objected to at its inception in 2009) will also expire in 2014, reducing costs for all ratepayers.

"The best use for low-cost hydropower generated primarily at places like the Niagara Power Project, which is located in my Senate district, and the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project, is to support economic development," Maziarz added. "This is a comprehensive reform that will have a huge impact on New York state."

Currently more than a quarter million jobs are sustained in part through Power For Jobs benefits at approximately 500 businesses and non-profit organizations in New York. Under the more robust ReCharge NY program, the effects are anticipated to be at least two-fold due to the increased amount of power set aside for allocations.

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