Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, and Niagara County Legislator Renae Kimble, D-Niagara Falls, today took the New York Power Authority to task for raising utility rates on local residents and businesses. Ceretto and Kimble noted that the latest round of rate increases comes after a $550 million debit of NYPA's finances in the 2010-11 state budget deal, a bill which neither public official voted for. The pair also emphasized the urgent need for local representation on the NYPA board of trustees.
"I am very troubled at this latest round of rate increases and my question to the NYPA board was where does it stop," Ceretto said. "A year ago, Albany politicians swept $550 million from NYPA to the state coffers and now they asking ratepayers to shoulder a $480 million rate increase. It's ridiculous and represents government at its worst."
"NYPA should not be used as a cash reserve for Albany in sparse times just as local ratepayers should not be treated like an ATM by the power authority," Ceretto added. "Instead of raising rates on electricity customers in an economic downturn, lawmakers should be looking at ways to reform the state's authorities in order to help control costs and make these entities more responsive to the needs of taxpayers. One way to accomplish this is local representation on the NYPA board of trustees."
"Niagara Falls is not benefiting enough from its proximity to the Power Project," Kimble said. "The NYPA funds sweep has contributed directly to this rate hike. Assemblyman Ceretto and I worked together in the county legislature on this issue and we continue to work together now. The math is simple: $550 million was taken from NYPA by desperate politicians to 'balance' a budget. Now $480 million is needed for renovations at the Niagara Power Project. Ratepayers should not be asked to clean up overspending by Albany. Furthermore, we were assured that the re-licensing agreement would ensure no rate hikes. This agreement must be upheld."
Ceretto and Kimble have been consistent advocates for local representation on the NYPA board of trustees in order to ensure that Western New York's residents and job creators receive their fair share of low-cost energy. As Niagara County legislators, Ceretto and Kimble sponsored bipartisan legislation to mandate local representation on NYPA.
Currently, Ceretto is circulating his "Empower Niagara" petition to demonstrate the need and support for Niagara County representation on the NYPA board. The petitions will be delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo later this year.
"For too long, downstate influences and Albany politicians have squandered our region's resource," Ceretto said. "Niagara County deserves better. We need local representation on the NYPA board of trustees that will give us greater control over our energy and economic futures and allow us to transform Niagara Falls into a regional powerhouse."