Gov. Patterson asks public to push Assembly on 'Power for Jobs' bill
Monday, July 12, 2010 - 5:32 pm

Governor David Paterson is appealing to the public to get a "Power for Jobs" bill, already approved by the Senate, introduced and approved in the Assembly.

In a letter addressed "My Fellow New Yorker," and distributed by email, Paterson is asking voters in the state to contact their Assembly representatives to push them to action.

State Senator Darrel Aubertine, Vice Chair and Ranking Majority Member of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, said last week that he is also unhappy about the failure to pass meaningful Power for Jobs legislation in the Assembly.

“For the hard working men and women across New York state and the businesses, not-for-profits, hospitals and other companies they work for I am disappointed that the Assembly has passed another short term extender for Power for Jobs and is poised to leave town rather than deliver on their promise to make the economic benefit power program permanent,” said Aubertine.

With many Web links to supporting documentation and newspaper articles and editorials, Paterson is asking New Yorkers to pressure the Assembly to get a bill passed.

The text of the governor's letter follows:

My Fellow New Yorker:

I’m working to get our economy back on track, and I need your help. A key piece of legislation that would protect and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in New York State has passed the Senate 59-2, with support from both Republicans and Democrats from Upstate and New York City.

The bill would create a permanent economic development program administered by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) called Energize New York www.ny.gov/governor/more/Power_for_Jobs_FAQ.pdf that would use one of New York’s great natural resources – low-cost power produced by our hydro power plants – to bring in new jobs and protect existing jobs in our State.

Our bi-partisan plan would provide participating businesses with multi-year low-cost power contracts in exchange for commitments of jobs and capital investments.

Energize New York would replace two recently expired economic development programs - Power for Jobs and the Energy Cost Savings Benefit program. More than 320,000 jobs statewide were supported by those programs, and because we’ve designed Energize New York to be more than 50 percent larger than those programs combined, Energize New York could be capable of supporting 490,000 jobs across the State.

This means that not only could Energize New York support existing businesses in the State, but it could also attract new businesses and create tens of thousands of new jobs. But the Energize New York plan has not even been introduced in the Assembly, despite remarks  made by Speaker Sheldon Silver more than a year ago, when he called for the creation of such a program, saying “Businesses need certainty. I would ask that we allow time in the next session to put a permanent or multi-year solution in place.”

Instead – and in typical Albany fashion – the Assembly has offered a proposal that sounds good, but cannot be paid for. The Assembly bill would direct NYPA to offer cash-supported discounts to businesses, instead of low-cost power, which would be funded by NYPA revenue; however NYPA’s revenues vary from year to year and cannot be forecasted with a reasonable degree of certainty years into the future. This approach fails to achieve our basic objective, which is to provide businesses with certainty they need to invest in New York and New Yorkers.

While utilizing this hydropower is exactly how we can create a stable, predictable and sustainable economic development program, it is also why the Assembly refuses to act on our proposal. In 2009, this power provided an average discount of $2 to $4 per month to Upstate residential customers - a benefit the Assembly says is too significant to give up. But in reality, what those same customers would be giving up in lost jobs and lost opportunities for job creation within their communities - opportunities to keep local graduates in the State - is much greater.

Furthermore, our proposal would continue to provide special benefits for Upstate. Residential customers would see no reduction to their discounts for two years. Over the following three years, the discount would be gradually reduced but not eliminated. Revenue generated from NYPA’s sale of the Energize New York power would be used to provide a permanent discount to Upstate residential customers, and Upstate farmers that currently get a discount would continue receiving the same level of discount they receive today. Additionally, at least 35 percent of the new Energize New York power would be dedicated only for Upstate businesses.

In these difficult times, it is critical that we make the most of our limited resources – our plan continues to provide benefits to Upstaters while providing an unprecedented opportunity for economic growth statewide. You don’t have to take my word that our approach is the best path forward. Business and labor groups www.ny.gov/governor/press/06032010Power_for_Jobs.html , as well as editorial boards from every corner of the State have supported our approach:

• Newsday: “Gov. David A. Paterson is wisely refusing to sign the latest stopgap renewal passed by the legislature, because he has a better idea: Energize New York, a self-sustaining program that will reallocate 455 megawatts of NYPA's cheap hydropower, add it to an equal amount of market-rate power, and create a 910-megawatt program that will provide less expensive electricity to spur economic development across the state. the Senate - including key upstaters - agrees with Paterson. Now the Assembly must get with the program and pass this bill, to light up jobs statewide.” (6/14/10) www.newsday.com/opinion/editorial-a-better-plan-for-power-for-jobs-1.201...

• Syracuse Post Standard: “Short-term extenders do not provide the predictability businesses need to plan and prosper. A freeze on new businesses defeats the goal of luring new jobs to the state. Awarding benefits retroactively is just the opposite of planning ahead However, lawmakers do have a remedy at hand that would create the needed predictability going forward for companies that need a hand in meeting their energy needs. The program has another catchy title — Energize New York. Not only would it open up some 910 megawatts of subsidized power from the New York Power Authority to businesses, it would offer seven-year contracts.” (7/2/10) blog.syracuse.com/opinion/2010/07/renewed_energy_flawed_state_po.html

• The Buffalo News: “The measure would also preserve some benefits for residences, though they would decline over time. Again, though, those minimal savings were a relative waste of a valuable resource. Upstate is much better off devoting that power to a pool that can produce jobs than frittering it away on small breaks for thousands of residential customers.” (6/1/10) www.allbusiness.com/energy-utilities/utilities-industry-electric-power/1...

• Binghamton Press and Sun: “Albany is playing politics with a key business benefit — reduced power costs to employers. It's a game with the state's Power for Jobs program that Gov. David Paterson is trying to bring to an end by making the program permanent rather than renewable on an annual basis, which is what has occurred for the last five years of the 13-year program. Now Paterson needs some help. He's getting it from the Senate, which seems eager to go along with the governor's quest for permanency. The Assembly, however, appears to be balking, thereby leaving in limbo a key investment and job retention tool for New York.” (5/20/10) pqasb.pqarchiver.com/pressconnects/access/2047578791.html?FMT=ABS&date=May+20%2C+2010

Now is exactly the time for such a program. The nationwide recession has taken a hard toll on New York families. More than 330,000 people lost their jobs between July 2008 and December 2009.

Unemployment remains over 8 percent statewide, and over 800,000 New Yorkers are currently without work. Firms across the State, particularly in the manufacturing sector, are shedding jobs or, worse yet, permanently closing. Please call your local member of the Assembly to ask for their support of S.8065, the Energize New York bill.

It is not too late to make a difference and put people back to work. To find your Assembly member please visit: www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem .

Best,

David A. Paterson, Governor of New York State