Focus on the
       Energy Crisis
February 5, 2001

From the NYS Assembly Sheldon Silver, Speaker Paul D. Tonko, Chair, Energy Committee

New York’s Ratepayers Need
Real Energy Relief Now

New York State has an energy crisis on its hands. We may not have rolling blackouts and near-bankrupt utilities like in California, but the dramatic energy price increases of recent months is a real emergency for our businesses and families living on tight budgets. What’s more alarming is the fact that our Governor has refused to admit his energy policies are a failure. Just as his policies have not addressed the economic plight of Upstate New York, the Governor has not addressed the state’s energy problems.

For years, New York businesses and families
have been paying some of the highest
energy bills in the nation.

According to recent estimates, New York’s electric bills have soared to 67 percent higher than the national average since the Governor’s much- touted deregulation plan went into place. And all indications are that energy prices are only going to climb higher.

Utility customers in New York City struggled with severe electricity price spikes last summer, and now Niagara Mohawk is predicting an electricity rate increase of 12 percent beginning this fall. Utilities throughout the state have warned customers to expect double-digit increases in natural gas prices this winter — up to 70 percent in some places.

While the Governor’s Public Service Commission allows the increases to go unchecked, these costs are eating up family budgets, hurting small businesses and standing in the way of the economic revitalization Upstate New York desperately needs.

At a time when companies are furloughing workers and shutting down operations because of high energy prices, the Governor’s Public Service Commission has acted to increase electricity costs $750 million over the next five years.

The Governor’s response to the
energy crisis has been astounding.

First, the Governor and his allies in the State Senate rejected the Assembly’s offer to hold an energy summit last fall to try to find constructive ways to head off a crisis before the cold winter heating season arrived. When those bills did come, the Senate scrambled together a last minute “energy plan” that consisted largely of tax credits that require homeowners to spend a lot just to save a little.

The Assembly has a well-rounded plan that
will provide immediate ratepayer relief.

For five years, the Assembly has passed a far-reaching plan to provide real energy reform for working families and businesses. The Assembly’s Competition Plus initiative will promote competition within the utility industry, lower energy costs and protect consumers from unfair rate hikes and price gouging.

A key component of Competition Plus is the Universal Service Rate, which would give all customers a discount on the essential block of electricity they need to run their appliances and turn on their lights. It provides the security working families and seniors on fixed incomes need to deal with the turbulent energy industry.

The Assembly calls upon the Governor and
Senate to come to the table and negotiate real
solutions to the energy crisis that put
New York consumers first.

Competitive energy prices are essential to revitalizing New York’s economy, and giving real relief to working families and senior citizens. The Assembly Majority is ready and willing to work with the Governor and State Senate to forge an energy policy that protects family budgets and promotes economic growth.


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