Assemblyman Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, is sponsoring legislation that would create the Bulk Energy Electricity Program.

Assemblyman O’Mara noted that the amendment and corresponding legislation (A.2056) would reduce energy costs to the state by seeking more cost-efficient solutions with respect to electricity.

Under the legislation, the New York State Office of General Services would administer the Bulk Electricity Purchasing Program and make it available on a voluntary basis to state agencies, municipalities and school districts. OGS will be tasked to ensure that each contract for service entered into is with the lowest responsible bidder, provides for service and maintenance and gives additional amounts of electricity at the bulk rate in sufficient quantities in the event of an emergency.

“Bulk purchasing of electricity will help reduce costs for school districts and local governments and may result in lower property taxes,” O’Mara said. “It is important for the Legislature to encourage bulk buying on state and local levels as a way to lower energy costs, save important tax dollars during these tough economic times and encourage energy conservation.”

The legislation is expected to be brought to the Assembly floor for a vote via the amendment process in the coming days.

The federal government could one day come in and tell north country farmers and other property owners that they have no choice but to allow a proposed transmission line carrying wind-generated power to cross their land. And adding to the affront, they might have to pay for it, too.

That's the thrust of legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to give Washington expansive new powers to build thousands of miles of power lines needed to ensure the country meets its long-term goals for increasing reliance on electricity from renewable energy sources.

The reliability and capacity of the country's aging power grid to carry the power from distant sources have been questioned. By one estimate, as many as 15,000 miles of high-voltage lines will be needed crisscrossing the country to get power from likely producers in the Midwest and Western states - or from north country wind farms - to the East Coast and other parts of the country.

However, doing that will require years of planning and siting of power lines that will have to be reconciled with local and state permitting regulations, subject to contentious public hearings and strict environmental reviews that could delay or even halt construction.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today wrote to the Public Service Commission asking them to reject Energy East's request to raise gas and electric rates on nearly 1.5 million New York ratepayers. In a letter, Schumer outlined a host of reasons for the PSC to dismiss their request, contending that it violated several of the terms established by the PSC in approving Iberdrola's purchase of the utility and also made questionable claims in an attempt to justify the rate increase.

“This rate hike application reeks of profit mongering by a company that promised not to do just this as a condition of the approval of its merger. Just as New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet, Energy East is trying to pull a fast one on its customers. The PSC should reject this application without any hesitation,” U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said.

Iberdrola, a Spanish utility company, recently purchased Energy East, which is the parent company of NYSEG and RG&E, serving over 1.5 million ratepayers, spanning communities across Western NY, the Finger Lakes Region, the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley, the Capital Region and North Country.

During the regulatory approval process, Iberdrola committed to setting aside a $275 million pool of funds -- or Positive Benefits Adjustments (PBA) -- to keep customer rates low. At the time, Schumer said he would only support a deal containing provisions that would keep customer rates low. The final deal stipulated that a rate hike increase could not be requested for 13 months after the merger and that the $275 million Positive Benefits Adjustments be used to reduce rates or offset costs of the merger. Today, Schumer asked the PSC to determine whether the company was planning on using the $275 million in PBAs to offset the proposed rate hike, and if not, to determine how the company intended to use that fund.

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Albany, N.Y., February 25 –State Senator George Winner (R-C-I, Elmira) said today that with just over one month to go until the April 1 deadline to have a new state budget in place, the state’s Democratic leaders are still considering an Empire Zone reform plan that would devastate local economic development and lead to job losses.

“The Empire Zone program is upstate New York’s No. 1 economic development tool, and Governor Paterson wants to take it away from local businesses and manufacturers. I haven’t heard any of the state’s Democratic leaders back away from the plan, and that’s frightening. The governor’s plan is a rejection of the Empire Zone program, not reform,” said Winner. “The last thing we can afford is for a job-killing plan like this one to be approved at the last minute with very little public discussion.”

Governor David Paterson’s proposed 2009-2010 state budget would cut $272 million by taking Empire Zone benefits away from companies currently participating in the program. Under the Paterson plan, businesses previously deemed qualified for Empire Zone benefits would be retested to determine if they meet a new, higher 20:1 benefit-to-cost standard. The proposal would also eliminate the roles of local Empire Zone certification officers and administration boards in the current certification process, with the role of sole certification officer falling to the state economic development commissioner.

Winner said if Paterson's proposal is enacted, most of the businesses and manufacturers in his legislative district currently receiving Empire Zone benefits would no longer qualify.

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