Updates from the Committee on Energy

Cahill Calls for Open Conference Committee on Power For Jobs Reform
Public negotiations critical for program to protect businesses & upstate residents from high electric costs
June 23, 2010

Albany – Assembly Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) called on the Senate and the Governor to resume negotiations on Power For Jobs reform in an open, public joint conference committee. 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 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 passed a power for jobs extender (A. 11426) that will keep the program running until June 30th while a permanent solution is negotiated. Assemblymember Cahill urged the Senate to pass the extender and participate in a joint conference committee to finalize a new long term program.

“We’ve reached an impasse on the issue of rural and domestic power,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “We’re asking for a conference committee on the subject, so once and for all we can air this out.”