State Sen. George Maziarz, R-C-Newfane, drew a line in the sand Wednesday with the Public Service Commission regarding its proposals to raise statewide energy rates by nearly $1 billion. He said this increase would plunder hydropower revenue from Western New York in its ongoing proceeding to evaluate contingency plans in the event of the closure of the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y.
Maziarz filed formal comments with the PSC.
The PSC began a process last November to examine contingency plans for replacing the 2,000 megawatts of generation produced at Indian Point, should the facility close. Consolidated Edison and the New York Power Authority were asked to submit a document to the commission, which was delivered on Feb. 1, which specified certain projects and costs necessary to accomplish this goal. The transmission projects identified would cost a minimum of $811 million, costs that are proposed by NYPA and Con Ed to be recovered entirely by taxpayers.
In a departure from past precedent, the money would be collected from ratepayers in every region of the state, not merely those in New York City and other parts of downstate New York who are receiving the benefits.
"Fixing our failing transmission infrastructure is a good thing, but upstate ratepayers who would receive zero benefit from the closure cannot be asked to foot any part of the bill," said Maziarz, chairman of the Senate energy and telecommunications committee. "Attempting to make ratepayers in economically distressed areas of upstate New York pay for upgrades that benefit Manhattan is terrible public policy. It's Robin Hood, but in reverse."
In addition to new proposals for downstate transmission partially paid for by upstate ratepayers, the joint proposal from Consolidated Edison and NYPA also contemplates power purchase agreements being offered to private generators in the Hudson Valley and greater capital region in order to compensate for the possible loss of Indian Point. These PPAs would be financed by NYPA, and the authority's investment recovered through additional charges to ratepayers.
"Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year, and 24 hours a day, profit-infused water tumbles over Niagara Falls and becomes some of the most inexpensive electricity in the United States," Maziarz said. "Niagara is where NYPA makes its money, and Western New York money simply cannot be used to subsidize downstate generators. If NYPA wants to help generators with its Niagara profits, than it should look no further than Somerset and Dunkirk. Investments in repowering these plants, along with upstate transmission upgrades, are a smart investment that will create jobs while using our region's resources where they belong."