Monthly Column: ReChargeNY Program connected to over 27,000 WNY jobs
By Michael H. Ranzenhofer
As I mentioned in my September column, New York State’s fiscal house is starting to get back on track, but a lot more is needed to spur private-sector job creation. Regional Economic Development Councils have made a difference, and the State Senate’s New NY Job Creation plan has the potential to create thousands of jobs. However, a program aimed at providing low-cost electricity to businesses has helped to create or retain tens of thousands of jobs in our own backyard.
During the last 18 months, the ReCharge NY program has helped to create or retain more than 27,000 jobs in Western New York alone, providing low-cost power allocations to almost 100 businesses and not-for-profit organizations in our region. Additionally, billions of dollars in capital investment have been made over the course of three rounds of allocations.
Residents may remember the ReCharge NY program had been formerly known as the Power for Jobs initiative. I voted to overhaul the program in the 2011 Legislative Session so that taxpayers would begin to see better results.
The Power for Jobs program had to be re-approved by the State Legislature year after year. Part of the overhaul included making the program more predictable. Now, recipients of the low-cost power will receive seven year commitments so that businesses can budget their future energy costs without relying on Albany to pass year to year extensions.
ReCharge NY doubles the amount of power available through Power for Jobs, from 455 to 910 megawatts, and targets strategic regions and enterprises. For example, 350 megawatts have been set aside for upstate and 200 megawatts have been reserved for expanding New York State companies and attracting out of state businesses to the Empire State.
Our electricity rates are still twice as high when compared to other states. All too often, high energy costs are a substantial factor when New York-based companies decide to remain open for business or expand and when out of state companies are deciding whether to invest or move here. Simply put, ReCharge NY is one of many actions taken over the last two years to start to lower the cost of doing business.
Cutting tax rates in half for over 5,000 Upstate manufacturers and reducing middle-class tax rates to their lowest levels in 58 years are two of many positive actions aimed at starting to improve the State’s business climate. Certainly, ReCharge NY continues that commitment for years to come, as the program has been responsible for reducing energy costs for over 600 businesses all across the State.
The ReCharge NY program is an example of the progress that has been made to move New York in a more positive direction. As your State Senator, I’ll work to ensure more job-creating programs, similar to ReCharge NY, are enacted into law.
Senator Ranzenhofer's monthly column appeared in the Amherst, Clarence and Ken-Ton bees on October 17, 2012.