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Column: Assemblymen Palmesano, Barclay

Public Service Commission Delivers Reality Check to NY’s Energy Overhaul

By Assemblymen Phil Palmesano (R,C-Corning)
and Will Barclay (R,C-Pulaski)

ALBANY, Oct. 27, 2023 -- The state Public Service Commission (PSC) rightfully rejected nearly $12 billion in higher payments sought by renewable energy developers. Simply put, New Yorkers should not be shouldering the financial brunt of liberals’ radical climate platform. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) is the misguided vision concocted by Democrats without a shred of responsible consideration regarding the impact of this law on the affordability and reliability of the state’s energy grid.

Like any good financial advisor’s advice for success, the key to New York’s energy future is a strategy built on diversity. Renewable energy projects should be a piece of an energy puzzle that considers the balance between a healthy environment and a reliable, efficient energy grid.

The decision by the PSC should be a wake-up call for all New Yorkers. The current mandates set forth by the CLCPA are putting the state’s energy future at risk and will almost certainly lead to devastating economic consequences. The Empire Center suggests that the true cost to implement all the components outlined in the CLCPA will total at least $510 billion. The alarm bells are ringing. We should be pumping the brakes on this reckless climate policy.

The Assembly Minority Conference has been the leading voice of reason in Albany. We were the first conference to call for a true cost-benefit analysis to show the real-world financial impacts of the CLCPA on businesses and families before any CLCPA mandates were implemented. Additionally, we have renewed calls for a full cost-benefit analysis (A.5198) to be commissioned. A study by a neutral third party will provide answers and clarity sorely lacking from the discourse surrounding liberals’ misguided energy agenda.

But a lack of clarity and transparency hasn’t stopped Gov. Hochul’s administration from pushing forward aimlessly. This year’s state budget only added to the expensive environmental regulations and mandates that will drive costs for New Yorkers even higher.

Democrats have stripped New Yorkers’ energy choices away. They want to control which car you drive, how you heat your home, cook your food, power your buildings or run your business. The envisioned renewable-energy-only future is an expensive logistical nightmare and will stretch an ill-equipped energy grid to its max.

Common sense has gone out the door. Currently, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) are in the process of reviewing public feedback and producing a report by January 1, 2024, on New York’s Cap-and-Invest Program, which is expected to raise costs on the business community. Ironically, this adds to the state’s notoriously unfriendly and oppressive business climate. The business community’s energy policy centers around two things: they need reliable power to operate, and they need it at an affordable rate. If these two basic tenets can’t be met, businesses of all shapes and sizes will simply leave. It is why we cannot afford to allow unelected bureaucrats to make substantial and potentially costly recommendations outside the realm of accountability. This is not how government should operate. We are currently drafting legislation that would halt any implementation of recommendations or mandates from this program without a full up-or-down vote by the Legislature.

We are at the precipice of New York’s energy future. The commissioners from DEC and NYSERDA have even gone as far as to remark, “fighting climate change won’t work if people and businesses can’t afford it.” The potential for an 80% increase in natural gas bills should send a shiver down all New Yorkers’ spines. And consider the impact a $.63 per gallon of gasoline hike would have on commutes as well as goods and services. Again, these are numbers shared by the governor’s own DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos earlier this year.

The reality is New York is only responsible for 0.4% of emissions worldwide. Democrats in this state are willing to risk it all to potentially dent four-tenths of a percent! For context, China accounts for 29% of global emissions, has more than 1,000 coal plants and is building more. In fact, China recently announced it is expanding coal capacity by 70 gigawatts. New York's total generating capacity is 41 gigawatts, including wind, solar, hydro, nuclear and, yes, natural gas.

While Democrats continue to claim the benefits outweigh the costs, the facts continue to paint a different picture. Affordability and reliability issues abound. Energy providers and industry experts are increasingly warning about the inevitable energy shortfalls in the coming years. Imagine for a moment the impact a blackout would have in the dead of winter under an all-electric future -- the devastation would be unimaginable across the state.

The laundry list of nonsensical mandates stemming from the CLCPA is long and even requires that every school bus purchased beginning in 2027 be electric. Diesel school buses cost approximately $125,000. Your school district will soon be forced to pay nearly three times as much for an electric replacement. There are 50,000 school buses statewide; the costs are astronomical and, ultimately, the financial burden will once again fall on the overburdened taxpayer. We need to slow it down and that is why we are introducing legislation that will seek to pause this unnecessary mandate.

The only thing “green” about this liberal energy agenda is the money it will waste to implement it fully. This runaway freight train has set New York on an unsustainable course. We should invest in renewable energy projects and technology, but we should not be quick to accept an energy plan that hasn’t been thoughtfully crafted out. We have a responsibility to develop a plan guaranteeing New Yorkers a cost-effective and dependable future.

Photo in text: Asssemblyman Phil Palmesano

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