Meeting New York’s Demand For Energy Requires Real Solutions, Not False Choices
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
May 29, 2009
All across our state, increasing energy costs are becoming unaffordable for average working families and are a major deterrent to doing business here. In fact, manufacturers and small businesses are leaving New York in droves for other states. Our lack of a strategic, long-term energy plan is preventing economic development, job creation and our ability to create a competitive business climate. Clearly, New York’s high fuel costs are not merely limited to the “pain at the pump” motorists feel. In addition to having some of the highest gas prices in the Northeast – largely due to the three separate taxes our state imposes on a gallon of gasoline – New York’s electricity prices are 61 percent above the national average, and natural gas costs are 19 percent higher. All those additional expenses add up quickly, further burdening homeowners and small businesses. For too long, New Yorkers were sold the “false choice” that they could have either a prosperous economy, or a safe and healthy environment. The truth is we can – and should – have both. Doing so would result in our achieving a reliable, low-cost energy supply that makes smart use of renewable and alternative resources. This approach would lessen our demand on foreign oil and reduce the occurrence of energy price spikes, like the ones that often arrive with summer when gas becomes more expensive, and every winter when home heating costs typically rise. This is exactly the type of long-term strategy I called for during our most recent Legislative Leaders’ meeting, as I urged Governor Paterson and my colleagues to support adoption of a statewide energy plan and renewal of the successful Power for Jobs program. I am pleased to report that we reached consensus on an extension of Power for Jobs to spur economic development and aid job-creation. The Conference I lead has issued a detailed legislative agenda titled “The Promise of New York,” which outlines other initiatives comprising our comprehensive statewide energy plan. Some of our specific energy solutions focus on: Article X and State Energy Plan – Renew Article X for the siting of major electrical generating facilities and establish a state energy planning board to adopt a comprehensive statewide energy plan (Assembly Bill A.2082); Transmission Lines – Expedite the approval process for power companies to make upgrades to existing transmission lines (Assembly Bill A.3040); New York State School Energy Efficiency Fund – Create the NYS School Energy Efficiency Fund to provide assistance to New York school districts for energy-efficient upgrades (Assembly Bill A.5509); Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund – Dedicate a portion of sales tax revenue to a new Alternative Fuel Incentive Fund to provide tax credits, grants, investments and other incentives to encourage ownership of hybrid and flex-fuel vehicles, along with the construction of alternative fueling stations and refineries to expand availability of these fuels (Assembly Bill A.8420); Alternative Fuel Stations – Provide a tax credit for the construction, reconstruction, or acquisition of an alternative fuel refueling facility (Assembly Bill A.5620); Hydro-Power Systems – Make Hydro Energy Systems eligible for Real Property Tax exemptions (Assembly Bill A.4403 of 2008); and Home Heating PIT Credit – Provide a State Personal Income Tax Credit for taxpayers whose home heating costs exceed five percent of their New York Adjusted Gross Income (Assembly Bill A.6554). These initiatives would position New York as a national leader when it comes to a more efficient delivery and use of energy, the creation of private sector jobs and greater investments in clean technologies that will power the jobs of tomorrow. If you would like to receive a copy of The Promise of New York, contact my office and one will be provided. Naturally, I would like to learn your feedback on our Conference’s legislative agenda for moving New York forward by meeting our state’s growing demand for energy – and real solutions. As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com.