Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced that he has called upon Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm Smith to resume discussions on the creation of a new statewide, low-cost economic development power program in an open, joint conference committee.
The joint conference committee would be convened to resolve differences between similar legislation passed by the Assembly and the Senate relating to low-cost power programs.
Last month, the Assembly passed legislation extending the current Power for Jobs program through June 30, 2011 and establishing a new program to provide long-term economic development incentives to businesses and not-for-profits (A.11172). The Power Solutions Program would give upstate residents the option of relinquishing their hydroelectric power in return for energy conservation measures.
A measure supported by the Governor and Senate, Energize New York, has a similar goal of providing low-cost power and economic incentive for businesses to locate in New York (S.8065). However, this measure would redirect 455 megawatts of low-cost hydropower away from upstate residents, resulting in an undue financial burden reflected in higher monthly utility bills.
"Our goal is to provide a program that encourages job creation, energy efficiency and capital investment by New York businesses," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "That is why we need an open discussion about what works and what doesn't with regard to the Power for Jobs program. My colleagues in the Assembly Majority and I are willing to work with the Governor and members of the Senate to come up with a solution that will provide businesses and not-for-profits with low-cost power, encourage the creation of new jobs, and ensure that an unnecessary fiscal burden is not placed on upstate residents."
The existing Power for Jobs program, which has been in place since 1997, was first enacted as a temporary measure to ease the transition into a deregulated market. The program has required annual legislative extensions to continue to provide low-priced power to businesses throughout the state. While the extensions maintained benefits for current participants, it was closed off to new businesses and limited the ability of the New York Power Authority to plan ahead and better utilize resources to administer the program more effectively.
"I commend Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, my colleague in the Assembly, for crafting legislation creating the Power Solutions Program," noted Silver. "Now, it is time that we begin work with the Senate through a joint conference committee to resolve our differences."