Expert Opinion: Clean sources of power in New York

Expert Opinion: Clean sources of power in New York

Expert Opinion: Clean sources of power in New York
October 1, 2015

When the state Legislature reconvenes in January, they’ll have ample opportunities to address our energy challenges.

The governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative is working its way through demonstration projects aimed at fundamentally changing the way power is generated and distributed in New York. The New York 2015 Energy Plan has set ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, generating electricity from renewable sources, and cutting energy use through increased efficiency. In addition, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan puts even more pressure on us to find ways to minimize our carbon footprint from power plants.

Against this backdrop, it’s essential that New York maintain its clean sources of power, particularly hydro and nuclear, which emit virtually zero carbon. These plants form the backbone of our power supply, accounting for more than 50 percent of the state’s base load electricity. They make it possible for us to pursue the innovations that will take us into the energy future.

New York needs to make large capital investments in clean electricity generation and renewables and in updating and expanding the transmission grid. Given that our average electricity bill is typically about 60 percent above the national average, the cost of these innovations should be borne by the private sector, without direct or hidden subsidies from already hard-pressed taxpayers and ratepayers.

Indeed, as the Legislature looks toward making New York’s energy cleaner and more reliable, affordability should be a high priority.

Affordability would immediately improve, especially for citizens with low or fixed incomes who suffer most from high utility bills, if the many taxes and fees that constitute fully 25 percent of the average electric bill were reduced or, in some cases, eliminated.

Many of these charges go toward programs whose costs have long been unnecessary.

To better protect taxpayers and ratepayers, state Sen. John DeFrancisco has introduced legislation that would require fiscal analysis of proposed REV projects. This commonsense bill has already passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and passing it in the Assembly should be a priority when they reconvene. An open and transparent process that attracts and supports a marketplace in new projects will provide the greatest value at the lowest price.

Ensuring an ample supply of affordable, clean and reliable energy for decades to come is important and timely. Encouraging innovation through private investment and reducing costs for New Yorkers will make our energy future even brighter.

Arthur 'Jerry' Kremer is Chairman, New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance.