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Maziarz announces legislation to short circuit foreign transmission line

by jmaloni
Tue, May 15th 2012 03:15 pm

Press release

At a press conference Tuesday morning, State Sen. George Maziarz, R-C-Newfane, joined fellow state senators, union members, power generators and business groups in order to draw attention to what they deem negative impacts of a proposed underwater transmission line from Canada, and to announce legislation prohibiting the use of eminent domain by an electric corporation (or affiliate) that seeks to build a transmission line that originates outside of the U.S. to an ending point within the U.S.

The proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express Transmission Line (CHPE) is a 1,000-mw transmission line that would originate in Canada and end in New York City. CHPE does not allow any other existing New York generators or transmission companies to tie in to the line, nor does it address the issues being faced by certain struggling power plants throughout New York.

While the developers of the project say that it will be funded through private investments, there is a little noticed clause in the proposal before the Public Service Commission that could push some of the costs onto ratepayers, causing already high utility bills to go up, Maziarz's camp said.

"The project is being sold as a way to reduce energy prices for New York City, which is a worthy goal. However, we already have a way to address this concern while still using abundant in-state power sources through upgrading existing transmission lines," said Maziarz, chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. "The proposed Champlain-Hudson Power express is nothing more than an extension cord from Quebec to New York City that won't create a single long-term job, while putting tens of thousands of existing jobs in mortal danger. Importing power is the wrong choice for our state's economy, and the wrong choice for our energy future. We don't need a job creation program for Canada; we need one right here in New York."

"Competition drives the energy industry, but these tough economic times are making it more and more difficult to for many companies to compete in New York and across the country," said Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York. "The types of projects subject to this legislation not only fail to provide the job, tax and community stability benefits that in-state resources do, they also threaten the viability of existing and future in-state energy investment. This legislation prevents outside entities from using eminent domain to access our waterways, and land right-of-ways. Eminent domain should be reserved for projects that truly benefit all New Yorkers. I would like to thank Senator Maziarz once again for demonstrating his commitment to the best interests of New Yorkers through this legislation."

Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, said: "We appreciate Senator Maziarz's concerns regarding the TDI project. Our members have raised both economic and technical issues with the proposal. The state's electric grid connects New York communities that generate electricity with New York communities that consume electricity. Communities from around the state have benefited directly and indirectly through the purchase of in-state power, and projects that could jeopardize this relationship should be carefully examined. The Business Council supports Senator Maziarz's devotion to improving the reliability of the state's energy systems and reducing the cost of energy for consumers. We support his efforts to highlight, through legislation, our shared concerns regarding this project."

"The NYS IBEW Utility Council represents over 15,000 NYS Utility workers," said Michael Malek, business manager and chairman of NYS IBEW Utility Council. "Currently, many power plants within NYS are struggling to stay in business - in part - due to an aged, inadequate NYS transmission system that denies them the valuable NY City market. When we learned of a plan by a Canadian developer to run a 1,000 mw extension cord from NY City to Quebec that denies all NYS power generators a chance to compete and threatens the ability to finance our own desperately needed in-state transmission upgrades, we began a call for action and voiced our opposition. The Senate bill prohibiting the use of eminent domain for transmission projects originating outside of NYS has the full support of the NYS IBEW Utility Council and will additionally result in the right outcome for upgrades to the current NYS transmission system."

"The Sierra Club supports this legislation, which confronts projects such as the inappropriate Champlain Hudson electric cable that transmits electricity produced by the damming and destruction of pristine Canadian rivers," said Annie Wilson, chair of Sierra Club's NYC Energy Committee. "New York can meet all its energy needs with in-state renewable resources and create jobs at the same time. We must not undermine our own sustainable energy economy by exploiting resources from Canada and indigenous peoples."

Jerry Kremer, former chairman of the New York Assembly Ways and Means Committee and chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, said, "Senator Maziarz's bill is both reasonable and makes compelling sense. Importing large amounts of Canadian electricity means higher prices, lost jobs, lost tax dollars, and eventual turmoil for our electric grid. Our focus should be on attracting billions of dollars for large, long-term capital investments in New York - investments which will create jobs, opportunity and build infrastructure that helps ensure economic growth."

"We filed comments with the New York State Public Service Commission, to express our strong opposition to the Champlain Hudson Power Express project, "said John Ravitz, EVP and COO of The Business Council of Westchester "The line, if approved, would cripple investment in new generation and transmission facilities in New York. New York's generators and transmitting facilities provide more than $600 million in much-needed tax revenues to localities and to the state. In addition, these facilities also employ more than 10,000 people who live, work, and pay taxes right here in New York. The CHPE line would literally export those jobs and hard-working New Yorkers' dollars over the border to Canada.

"For maximum benefits to New York, especially in job retention and creation, new electricity infrastructure should support current and new in-state power generation."

Maziarz's camp said the power of eminent domain should be reserved for projects that achieve public purposes and benefit New Yorkers, and clearly this project does not. If adopted, they said, this legislation would effectively prevent this project or others like it from moving forward. S7391, which is currently pending in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, has 17 bi-partisan co-sponsors.

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