Assembly Passes Temporary Power For Jobs Extender

Consumer groups back consumer choice in Assembly reform efforts
June 3, 2010

Albany – Assembly Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) announced that the Assembly approved legislation (A.11315) to temporarily extend Power For Jobs uninterrupted through June 16, 2010. He also pointed out that AARP, Consumers Union and the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) have offered their support for the Assembly’s reform efforts because it promotes consumer choice while ensuring the creation of a stable and effective economic development program for New York businesses.

“Today we took the necessary steps to ensure that hundreds of businesses continue to receive benefits under Power for Jobs. However, New York needs a sustainable, predictable, long-term power program that encourages capital investment and job creation,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “The support of AARP, Consumers Union and PULP is further evidence that the Assembly proposal meets that standard while protecting upstate households and farms from high energy prices.”

There are many similarities between the Assembly’s Power Solutions bill and the measure supported by the Governor and the Senate leadership. One point where the measures diverge significantly is around the question about what to do with low-cost hydroelectric power currently going to upstate residents. Unlike the Governor and the Senate’s plan to involuntarily redirect this resource away from residential customers and give it to businesses, Power Solutions provides for ratepayers to voluntarily exchange their access to hydropower in return for energy efficiency savings.

“One of the reasons consumer groups expressed support for our plan in a news release earlier today is that unlike the other proposals, we protect upstate New York households and farms by allowing them to keep their current benefits if they so choose,” Assemblymember Cahill said. “Instead of forcing customers to give up their power, we are presenting an option to consumers who would benefit from conservation programs and providing them with resources to save a considerable amount of electricity and lower their bills for years to come.”

Power For Jobs currently offers employers some relief from the high energy costs. However, the program is closed to new businesses and has required annual extensions for the past five years. This extender is important to hundreds of businesses and not-for-profits that depend on this program. The temporary extender ensures that entities currently receiving benefits continue to do so, while allowing more time to negotiate a new permanent program.

“Once the Senate acts on their legislation, I am hopeful that we can work quickly to come to an agreement on a new and permanent low cost power program while protecting the upstate residents from rising energy costs,” said Assemblymember Cahill. "In the meantime, I call upon the Governor and the Power Authority to continue the existing programs while we conclude legislative discussions in earnest."