Meeting New York’s Energy Demands

August 3, 2006

New York is a state with a high and ever-growing demand for electrical power. This trend is felt across the region and nation as electric-powered appliances and items become more commonplace. Heavy year-round demand, coupled with the added burden of air conditioning units in the summer, means blackouts and less damaging brownouts are becoming more frequent.

The “Great Blackout” of 1965 affected 30 million people from eastern Ontario, Canada, through New York and much of New England, while in 1977, the New York City experienced a complete blackout. Still fresh in many minds is the August 2003 blackout, where eight states, including New York, were without power for a day or more. The recent news of blackouts in the New York City borough of Queens is a reminder there is an underlying need for greater power generating capability.

Although most energy policies and regulations originate at the federal level, New York state does have some regulatory responsibility. From my experience as the ranking member of the Assembly Energy Committee, I am familiar with this subject and proposed legislation seeking to renew Article X, the state’s expired power plant siting law.

Article X was designed to implement an expedited review process for locating major electric generating facilities while recognizing the importance of, and providing for, resident involvement in the siting process. However, Article X expired on January 1, 2003.

Industry experts maintain the decommissioning of existing plants and underinvestment in new power generation sources will result in an energy shortfall that could seriously impact downstate capacity and reliability between 2008 and 2011. Since it takes about five years to site and build a power plant in New York, the critical time for reauthorizing the Article X siting law, which is already considered the best in the country, is now. This bill would reauthorize Article X for 10 years, with reasonable changes made to improve the current statute and provide regulatory predictability. This legislation would also reinstate the state energy planning process.

Renewing Article X makes sense from a planning perspective because it would help New York’s power producers meet today’s demands and plan for tomorrow’s needs. As always, please contact my office if you have questions, comments or concerns regarding this or other matters. I can be reached by mail at 607 West Washington St., Suite 2, Geneva, NY 14456, by e-mailing, or by calling (315) 781-2030.