Updates from the Committee on Energy

Cahill Renews Call for Open Conference Committee on Power For Jobs Reform
Assembly passes extender, still time to negotiate permanent reforms
June 30, 2010

Albany – Assembly Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) renewed his call for the Senate and Governor to resume negotiations on Power For Jobs reform in an open, public joint conference committee. The Assembly, which called for the negotiations nearly two weeks ago, took action to extend Power For Jobs until May 2011 (A.11523). Assemblymember Cahill noted there is still time to negotiate permanent reforms. While all parties want sustainable Power For Jobs reform, the Assembly is working to ensure it does not come at the expense of upstate residents.

“I see no benefit in subjecting hundreds of businesses and not-for-profits to increased energy costs,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “The Senate and the Governor need to come back to the table to work with the Assembly in a public forum to reach an agreement on a permanent Power For Jobs Program. At the same time, we must ensure we do so without forcing upstate households and farms to give up their low cost electricity.”

Assemblymember Cahill noted that negotiations on a new program have stalled due to the insistence on the part of the Senate and Executive that any reform seize the low cost hydroelectric power upstate New York residents have relied on for over half a century.

The Assembly reform legislation (A.11172) would give upstate households the option to relinquish the power voluntarily in return for energy conservation measures. In essence, residents could choose to contribute to the economy and create jobs by participating in energy efficiency programs that will permanently lower their utility costs. This approach has been endorsed by consumer groups like AARP, the Public Utility Law Project and Consumers Union.

“We should be focused reforming Power For Jobs in ways that will create jobs without raising energy costs for households that are already struggling during these tough times,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “Instead of forcibly taking the benefit, we can give upstate New Yorkers the opportunity to save money on their electric bills while creating new economic opportunities in their communities.”

The Assembly Power For Jobs extender will keep the program running until May 15th, 2011. “We’ve reached an impasse on the issue of rural and domestic power. We’re renewing our call for a conference committee on the subject because thus far we have not gotten an answer. We need to air out the contentious issues once and for all,” said Assemblymember Cahill.