Joint Legislative Public Hearing on 2016-2017 Executive Budget Proposal: Topic "Environmental Conservation" - Testimonies

budget

Hearing Notice Event:
http://www.nysenate.gov/calendar/public-hearings/january-28-2016/joint-legislative-public-hearing-2016-2017-executive-budget

Archived Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJehfy13iiI

Event Transcipt:

                                                                 1

    BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE FINANCE
    AND ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEES
    ----------------------------------------------------

            JOINT LEGISLATIVE HEARING

               In the Matter of the
           2016-2017 EXECUTIVE BUDGET ON
             ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
    
    ----------------------------------------------------

                             Hearing Room B
                             Legislative Office Building
                             Albany, New York
    
                             January 28, 2016
                             9:39 a.m.
    

    PRESIDING:

             Senator Catharine M. Young
             Chair, Senate Finance Committee
    
             Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
             Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
    
    PRESENT:

             Senator Liz Krueger 
             Senate Finance Committee (RM)
    
             Assemblyman Robert Oaks
             Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
    
             Senator Thomas F. O'Mara 
             Chair, Senate Committee on 
              Environmental Conservation 
    
             Assemblyman Steve Englebright
             Chair, Assembly Committee on
              Environmental Conservation
    
             Senator Patricia A. Ritchie
             Chair, Senate Committee on Agriculture
    
    

                                                                  2

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  1-28-16
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Assemblyman William Magee
             Chair, Assembly Committee on
 5            Agriculture
    
 6           Senator Diane J. Savino
    
 7           Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry
    
 8           Senator Elizabeth O'C. Little
    
 9           Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy
    
10           Assemblywoman Barbara S. Lifton
    
11           Senator Brad Hoylman
    
12           Assemblyman Clifford Crouch
    
13           Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick
    
14           Senator Tony Avella
    
15           Assemblyman Dan Stec
    
16           Assemblyman Peter D. Lopez
    
17           Senator Kathleen A. Marchione
    
18           Assemblyman Steven Otis
    
19           Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell
    
20           Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti
    
21           Assemblywoman Didi Barrett
    
22           Assemblyman Brian P. Kavanagh
    
23           Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
    
24           Senator Phil M. Boyle
    

                                                                  3

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  1-28-16
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper
    
 5           Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky
    
 6           Assemblyman Felix Ortiz
    
 7           Assemblyman Matthew J. Titone  
    
 8  
    
 9                   LIST OF SPEAKERS
    
10                                   STATEMENT QUESTIONS
    
11  Basil Seggos 
    Acting Commissioner
12  NYS Department of 
     Environmental Conservation             8      16
13  
    Rose Harvey
14  Commissioner
    NYS Office of Parks, Recreation
15   and Historic Preservation            160     167
    
16  Richard A. Ball
    Commissioner
17  NYS Department of Agriculture
     and Markets                          203     209
18  
    Audrey Zibelman
19  Chair 
    NYS Public Service Commission
20      -and-
    John B. Rhodes
21  President & CEO
    NYSERDA                               271     278
22  
    Kelly Young
23  Deputy Director of
     Public Policy
24  New York Farm Bureau                  400     406                             
    

                                                                  4

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  1-28-16
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                   STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Laura Ten Eyck
    Senior NY Project &
 6   Outreach Manager
    American Farmland Trust              416
 7  
    Daniel Machold
 8  Eastern Division Business
     Representative
 9  IBEW Local #97                       423     430
    
10  Jessica Ottney Mahar
    Director, Government Relations 
11  The Nature Conservancy               431     436
    
12  Erin Crotty
    Executive Director 
13  Audubon New York                     437
    
14  Brian Smith 
    Assoc. Exec. Director 
15  Citizens Campaign for the
     Environment                         442
16  
    Peter Iwanowicz
17  Executive Director
    Environmental Advocates
18   of New York                         449     455
    
19  Chrisopher S. Goeken
    Director of Public Policy
20  New York League of Conservation 
     Voters                              458     463
21  
    Laura DiBetta 
22  Director, Parks Program and
     Government Relations
23  Parks & Trails New York              464
    
24  

                                                                  5

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  1-28-16
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                    STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  A. Charles Parker
    President
 6  NYS Conservation Council Inc.        470     477
    
 7  Patricia Cerro-Reehil
    Executive Director
 8  New York Water Environment
     Association                         479     485
 9  
    Kevin Chlad
10  Director, Government Relations 
    Adirondack Council                   490     495
11  
    Neil Woodworth
12  Executive Director
    Adirondack Mountain Club             495     499
13  
    Peter Bauer
14  Executive Director
    Protect the Adirondacks              502     506
15  
    Dan Shapley
16  Water Quality Program Mgr.
    Riverkeeper                          507     511
17  
    Andy Bicking
18  Director of Public Policy
    Scenic Hudson                        513     518
19  
    Erik Kulleseid
20  Senior Vice President 
    Open Space Institute's 
21   Alliance for NYS Parks              520     525
    
22  Roger Downs
    Conservation Director
23  Sierra Club                          529     534
    
24  
    

                                                                  6

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good morning, and 

 2          I'd like to welcome everyone.  

 3                 Pursuant to the State Constitution and 

 4          Legislative Law, the fiscal committees of the 

 5          State Legislature are authorized to hold 

 6          hearings on the Executive Budget proposal.  

 7          Today's hearing will be limited to a 

 8          discussion of the Governor's proposed budget 

 9          for the Department of Environmental 

10          Conservation, the Office of Parks, Recreation 

11          and Historic Preservation, Department of 

12          Agriculture and Markets, and the New York 

13          State Energy Research and Development 

14          Authority.  

15                 Following each presentation, there 

16          will be some time allowed for questions from 

17          the chairs of the fiscal committees and other 

18          legislators.  

19                 So first I'd like to welcome Basil 

20          Seggos, who is acting commissioner of the 

21          Department of Environmental Conservation.  

22          Welcome.  Glad to have you here today.  

23                 But before you begin, I'd like to 

24          introduce our colleagues who have joined us.  


                                                                  7

 1          First we have Senator Liz Krueger.  We're 

 2          also joined by Senator Tom O'Mara, Senator 

 3          Betty Little, Senator Diane Savino and 

 4          Senator Brad Hoylman.  

 5                 So welcome, and at this time I'd like 

 6          to turn it over to my colleague, Assemblyman 

 7          and Chair Denny Farrell.

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 9          much.  

10                 We've been joined by Assemblyman 

11          Michael Cusick, Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, 

12          Assemblyman Steve Otis, Assemblywoman 

13          Russell, Assemblywoman Lifton, Assemblyman 

14          Steve Englebright, Assemblywoman Fahy.  

15                 And Assemblyman Oaks, who will give us 

16          his people.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Yes.  We've been 

18          joined by Assemblyman Stec, Assemblyman 

19          Crouch, and Assemblyman Lopez.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

21          Assemblyman.  

22                 The acting commissioner's testimony 

23          will be followed by a question-and-answer 

24          period by members of the Legislature, as I 


                                                                  8

 1          said.  And after the final question-and- 

 2          answer period, an opportunity will be 

 3          provided for members of the public to briefly 

 4          express their views on the budgets under 

 5          discussion.  

 6                 At this time I would like to begin the 

 7          testimony of Acting Commissioner Basil 

 8          Seggos.  And again, welcome.  So happy to 

 9          have you here this morning.  

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's 

11          great to be here.  Thank you.  

12                 Chairwoman Young, Chairman Farrell, 

13          Senator O'Mara, Assemblyman Englebright, and 

14          members of the legislative fiscal and 

15          Environmental Conservation Committees, I am 

16          Basil Seggos, acting commissioner for DEC.  

17                 Thank you for the opportunity to 

18          discuss Governor Cuomo's budget 

19          recommendations for DEC for state fiscal year 

20          2016-2017.  Joining me today are Julie Tighe, 

21          assistant commissioner for intergovernmental 

22          and legislative affairs, and Jeff Stefanko, 

23          assistant commissioner for administration.

24                 Since taking office, Governor Cuomo 


                                                                  9

 1          has established one of the strongest 

 2          environmental records in the nation.  This 

 3          record is built on the belief that the 

 4          state's prosperity, both now and in the 

 5          future, depends upon the health and 

 6          resilience of its land, water, and air.  

 7          We're protecting our environment to ensure 

 8          our economy remains competitive long into the 

 9          future.  

10                 Nowhere is the Governorís record on 

11          the environment stronger than on climate 

12          change.  Indeed, climate change mitigation 

13          and adaptation are the centerpieces of the 

14          Governorís environmental agenda -- and 

15          New York State is now a global leader in this 

16          effort.  The state has made great strides in 

17          reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the 

18          power sector through the multistate Regional 

19          Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  We're not 

20          stopping there.  The 2015 State Energy Plan 

21          has set ambitious targets to further this 

22          effort by reducing carbon emissions by 

23          40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 

24          2030, and mandating that 50 percent of the 


                                                                  10

 1          energy used by New Yorkers come from 

 2          renewable sources by 2030.  So New York will 

 3          be a leader in the clean energy economy.  

 4                 Working together with the Legislature 

 5          over the last five years, we began to restore 

 6          the Environmental Protection Fund, we put 

 7          sorely needed resources into parks and open 

 8          spaces, we prioritized hunting, fishing, and 

 9          outdoor tourism, enacted one of the nationís 

10          strictest bans on illegal ivory sales, and, 

11          importantly, directed hundreds of millions of 

12          dollars into wastewater infrastructure 

13          upgrades.  

14                 Just last year alone, we reformed and 

15          extended the Brownfield Cleanup Program, 

16          provided $1 billion for the State Superfund, 

17          and increased funding to address oil spills.  

18                 The vital signs of New Yorkís 

19          environment are trending upward thanks to our 

20          collective work.  Air pollution levels have 

21          been slashed dramatically since 2005, and 

22          New York is in attainment for all federal air 

23          quality standards except ozone, which is 

24          largely an upwind-states issue.  In 2014, 


                                                                  11

 1          70 percent of all waters fully support the 

 2          uses for which they are designated, and 

 3          that's up from 66 percent in 2005.  

 4                 Our lands, too, are gaining 

 5          protection.  Since 2011, DEC has acquired 

 6          nearly 100,000 acres of fee and easements, 

 7          protecting lands in every region of the 

 8          state.  And we're nearly done acquiring the 

 9          Finch Pruyn property in the Adirondacks, 

10          which is one of the largest land conservation 

11          and public access projects in the state's 

12          history.  

13                 Outdoor recreation is booming across 

14          the state -- hunting, fishing, biking, 

15          camping.  For example, thanks to the stateís 

16          focused efforts in the Adirondacks, 

17          tourism-related employment is up nearly 8 

18          percent, tourism spending is up 10 percent, 

19          and visitation is up 15 percent just in the 

20          Adirondacks.  And we're going to bring that 

21          same attention to the Catskills this year.  

22                 All of this is good news.  But make no 

23          mistake, the task ahead of us and the 

24          challenge ahead of us remains enormous, 


                                                                  12

 1          whether it's climate change or invasive 

 2          species or the burdens faced by disadvantaged 

 3          communities.  Thatís why this year the 

 4          Governor has laid out one of the most 

 5          ambitious environmental agendas of any 

 6          governor in generations.  

 7                 First, the Governor has proposed 

 8          $300 million for the Environmental Protection 

 9          Fund -- the EPF -- which is more than double 

10          the funding provided in 2010.  Much of this 

11          increase will support traditional EPF 

12          programs such as municipal recycling, parks, 

13          oceans and great lakes, invasive species, and 

14          land acquisition.  

15                 But we are also proposing two new 

16          commitments.  The first is the Climate Change 

17          Mitigation and Adaptation Account. This $32.5 

18          million account will provide funding to 

19          communities for planning and capital 

20          investments to mitigate and adapt to the 

21          effects of climate change, reduce non-energy 

22          sector emissions, and assess the 

23          vulnerabilities of our state operations.  

24                 The Governor is also proposing the 


                                                                  13

 1          largest investment of direct environmental 

 2          justice funding ever made in New York, 

 3          $7 million.  This funding will continue to 

 4          provide community impact grants for 

 5          underserved and overburdened communities.  

 6          But now it will also increase funding for 

 7          air-quality monitoring in urban areas, 

 8          education and outreach efforts, and provide 

 9          access to our wonderful state lands. 

10          Environmental justice will be one of my top 

11          priorities at DEC as the Governor launches a 

12          statewide environmental justice agenda.  

13                 Second, the Governor has made it clear 

14          that we must address the state's water 

15          infrastructure.  Our communities need it, our 

16          economy needs it, and so does our 

17          environment.  Last year, working with you, we 

18          enacted a $200 million Water Infrastructure 

19          Improvement Act.  The first year's funding 

20          was coupled with federal grant funding and 

21          Environmental Facilities Corporation 

22          financing, turning what was $75 million in 

23          grants into over $440 million in projects.  

24          This year we propose to add another $100 


                                                                  14

 1          million in funding.  Combined with the 

 2          original investment, these funds will result, 

 3          over three years, in more than $1 billion in 

 4          projects, creating construction jobs, 

 5          providing clean drinking water and healthier 

 6          waterways.  

 7                 Third, the Governor continues to 

 8          improve the stateís visible infrastructure 

 9          through NY Works.  Since its inception in 

10          2012, NY Works has provided more than 

11          $220 million in funding to DEC for 

12          environmental capital projects such as 

13          repairing and improving recreational 

14          facilities, hardening dams and flood control 

15          structures, upgrading fish hatcheries, 

16          plugging abandoned oil and gas wells, and 

17          implementing our eBusiness strategy.  This 

18          year, the Governor proposes another $40 

19          million for NY Works.  

20                 Lastly, DECís budget for the coming 

21          year recommends state operations 

22          appropriations of $462.5 million and a 

23          capital budget totaling $858.6 million -- 

24          this includes the EPF investment, water 


                                                                  15

 1          infrastructure funding, NY Works, and State 

 2          Superfund -- to continue these critical 

 3          capital programs.  And the budget maintains 

 4          DEC's budgeted fill level of 2,946 employees.  

 5                 One of the best things about coming to 

 6          DEC is the chance to work with such talented 

 7          and dedicated staff.  From monitoring air 

 8          quality to issuing permits, from managing our 

 9          state lands to rescuing stranded hikers, 

10          DEC's employees are there to protect and 

11          improve our environment and ensure that New 

12          York is open for business. And I want to 

13          especially recognize our forest rangers and 

14          environmental conservation officers for their 

15          work responding to last weekendís storm.  I 

16          had the honor of working with them as they 

17          helped dig Long Island out from near record 

18          levels of snow.  We're always proud of their 

19          work, and are looking forward to replenishing 

20          their ranks with a new class this year.  

21                 I'm confident the Executive Budget 

22          will enable DEC to continue to fulfill its 

23          mission to protect public health and the 

24          environment.  I appreciate the opportunity to 


                                                                  16

 1          testify and would be happy to answer any of 

 2          your questions. 

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, acting 

 4          commissioner.  I know that my colleague 

 5          Senator Tom O'Mara, who is the chair of the 

 6          Environmental Conservation Committee, has 

 7          some questions.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

 9          Chairwoman.  

10                 And Commissioner, thank you for being 

11          here this morning.  Thank you for keeping 

12          your comments brief so we can get through 

13          this long agenda that we have before us today 

14          and get started out on the right foot here 

15          this morning.

16                 Last year we were very successful in 

17          retooling the Brownfield Cleanup Program in 

18          the state.  I haven't noticed; were there any 

19          changes proposed in the budget this year to 

20          the Brownfield Program?  

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We have 

22          no changes proposed in the budget this year.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  All right, I didn't 

24          think so.  Thank you.  


                                                                  17

 1                 With regard to a couple of the items 

 2          that you mentioned in your testimony, on the 

 3          resiliency planning of -- I think you said 

 4          $32.5 million for adaptation and mitigation 

 5          to climate change, can you provide a little 

 6          detail on how those dollars will be awarded, 

 7          what criteria there are, and who's eligible 

 8          to receive those monies?

 9                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  On the 

10          resiliency planning line?

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yes.

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So that's 

13          a $2 million line.  It's grants that go 

14          out -- it's actually a DOS program -- grants 

15          that go out to communities to update and 

16          modernize their local waterfront 

17          revitalization plans, which is a critical 

18          tool to help communities adapt to changing 

19          climate.  It also will help them comply with 

20          anything that comes out of the Community Risk 

21          and Resiliency Act which the Legislature 

22          passed a couple of years ago.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So that is 

24          specifically to waterfront revitalization.


                                                                  18

 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Are there any 

 3          limitations on what communities are eligible 

 4          for it or not eligible for it?

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  On that 

 6          line?  I could confer with my colleagues at 

 7          DOH.  The limitations would be focused on 

 8          waterfront and the extent to which any 

 9          climate change work is done from the 

10          waterfront outwards into the communities and 

11          the watersheds that are impacted.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  All right.  But 

13          there's no demographic criteria --

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  No.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  -- for communities 

16          that need to be met?

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  No, sir.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  

19                 With regard to the water 

20          infrastructure projects -- and that was 

21          changes we did last year in the EFC providing 

22          grants in addition to the low- or no-interest 

23          loans that the EFC has traditionally 

24          provided.


                                                                  19

 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  We're doing an extra 

 3          $100 million this year, is your proposal in 

 4          the budget?

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes, sir.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I think that has been 

 7          an extremely successful program so far, in 

 8          what we did last year, and it's helping our 

 9          governments stay within their tax caps and 

10          get some of these projects started with that 

11          extra grant money in addition to the low- and 

12          no-interest loans that were available there.  

13                 Are there any limitations on what 

14          types of communities can receive those grants 

15          at this point?

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  No.  All 

17          municipalities are eligible to receive those 

18          grants.  There's a scoring process through 

19          the application process at EFC.  Certain 

20          credit is given to hardship communities, 

21          communities that have CSO discharge problems.  

22          But this is a grant program available to all 

23          municipalities that have needs with 

24          wastewater they have to demonstrate.


                                                                  20

 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  In addition to the 

 2          added $100 million this year, is there any 

 3          change in the criteria for awarding those?

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We don't 

 5          expect any changes to the criteria.  They've 

 6          worked very well this first year.

 7                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How much of the $200 

 8          million from last year has been spent, and 

 9          how much remains to be awarded?  Or was that 

10          all awarded last year?

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We 

12          actually -- in Year 1, we only made $50 

13          million out of that pot available for 

14          communities.  We added to that an additional 

15          $25 million that came to us from the federal 

16          government, so it was actually a $75 million 

17          pot in Year 1.  And all of that was spent and 

18          awarded.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  So then is it 

20          accurate to say, then, that 150 of that 

21          initial 200 is going to be reappropriated 

22          this year?

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That's 

24          correct.


                                                                  21

 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Plus another hundred 

 2          million.

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Plus 

 4          another hundred.  

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And that will also be 

 6          eligible for some type of federal match to 

 7          amplify that amount?

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We are 

 9          still looking into whether or not we can add 

10          federal dollars to that.  That appeared to be 

11          a one-time shot.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  With regards 

13          to SEQR, there's been a great deal of 

14          discussion surrounding SEQR -- and I know 

15          that myself and you have spoken about this -- 

16          with seemingly endless processes that 

17          continue on certain projects without meeting 

18          a resolution.  I know that the department has 

19          been discussing considering some changes to 

20          help streamline those efforts and provide 

21          some definity on how long -- some definition 

22          as to how long the processes may take and 

23          some more certainty for individuals, 

24          industry, companies, whatever that are 


                                                                  22

 1          seeking to get a project approved.  

 2                 Is there anything in the budget at 

 3          this point with regards to any proposed 

 4          changes to SEQR?

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  There's 

 6          nothing in the budget, sir, no.

 7                 SENATOR O'MARA:  When do you 

 8          anticipate that you may be coming out with 

 9          some SEQR recommendations?

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, 

11          SEQR's obviously an important law that's 

12          helped to protect New York's environment.  We 

13          recognize that there are aspects of the law 

14          that can be streamlined.  And we heard from 

15          stakeholders, from the environmental 

16          community all the way through to the 

17          regulated community, about -- with their 

18          certain ideas.  

19                 We have a package of regulations, 

20          draft regulations that we're working on right 

21          now.  We expect to release those for public 

22          comment shortly.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  The budget as 

24          proposed by the Executive with regard to DEC, 


                                                                  23

 1          is it calling for any increasing staff levels 

 2          this year?

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  No, 

 4          Senator, it's flat.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, with the delay 

 6          in a lot of the decision-making, from my 

 7          perspective, on significant projects, the 

 8          delay is bad for -- it's bad for industry and 

 9          business in how long these things get dragged 

10          out.  It's bad for the communities that may 

11          support or oppose a project.  

12                 And, you know, we have one significant 

13          project in my district surrounding the 

14          underground storage of LPG, which we're now 

15          up to somewhere around 500 arrests of people 

16          protesting this facility that has dragged on 

17          for six or seven years now.  And every year 

18          I'm a little dumbfounded as to why the 

19          department isn't asking for more resources to 

20          provide staff to be able to more expediently 

21          handle these types of major issues.  

22                 Now, another one that's pending now is 

23          the Constitution Pipeline, which has received 

24          all the federal approvals and is now just 


                                                                  24

 1          hung up with DEC.  And without the request or 

 2          the -- what I see as a need for further 

 3          staffing at DEC, these decisions just seem to 

 4          drag out longer and longer and longer.  And I 

 5          don't think it's appropriate or fair to 

 6          either side, whether you support or oppose a 

 7          project in this, and more timely 

 8          decision-making would be more warranted.

 9                 Can you address those concerns?

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, on 

11          the LPG project, that matter right now, as 

12          you know, is with our administrative law 

13          judge in a formal proceeding.  I expect to 

14          have a decision from the judge within the 

15          next few months.  And as I'm the ultimate 

16          decider on that project, I can't weigh in on 

17          its merits.  I will say, though, that the 

18          submissions were extensive and timely, and I 

19          know that's why it's taken quite a bit of 

20          time to work through the process.

21                 On the Constitution Pipeline, it is a 

22          large proposed project, a 124-mile pipeline, 

23          99 miles of which is in New York, many, many 

24          stream crossings and wetland crossings.  Our 


                                                                  25

 1          department has been working very hard to 

 2          understand the full impacts of the 

 3          Constitution Pipeline.  It is taking time, 

 4          but I'm not going to pressure my department 

 5          to move more quickly than they believe is 

 6          warranted to complete their required hard 

 7          look on the project.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  A last question, I 

 9          think for now, unless I think of something 

10          for another round.  But you mentioned the 

11          environmental justice grants that are out 

12          there, I think you said $7 million.  And you 

13          mentioned the air-quality monitoring, which 

14          was an issue that was raised recently with 

15          seemingly a lack of monitoring stations in 

16          the Southern Tier.  And the monitoring 

17          station that I believe is in the Binghamton 

18          area really is -- there's nothing further 

19          east than that along the Southern Tier for 

20          that.  

21                 Can you explain, first of all, how the 

22          environmental justice grants are going to be 

23          awarded, what criteria there is for those, 

24          and what your thoughts are on air quality 


                                                                  26

 1          monitoring in the Southern Tier?

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Of 

 3          course.  On the EJ grants -- this is a 

 4          project we launched last year with the 

 5          Legislature's help.  It was a million-dollar 

 6          line last year.  So this year the total line 

 7          is $7 million.  We expect that we're going to 

 8          be doubling the grant program within that.  

 9          It will go to the same types of grants that 

10          we awarded last year, a $50,000 maximum on 

11          each grant.  And that was very popular last 

12          year.  

13                 The balance of the EJ line will go to 

14          fund projects like air monitoring in urban 

15          areas.  And we're going to work with the 

16          regulated community, the environmental 

17          justice community, to make sure that those 

18          grants are channeled to local air monitoring 

19          projects that have been requested.

20                 As to air monitoring statewide, we 

21          actually have 57 stations statewide, which is 

22          more than double what the EPA has asked of 

23          us.  It's a strong program.  We have a 

24          talented and dedicated staff that manage it.  


                                                                  27

 1                 In the Southern Tier there is one run 

 2          by the state, and I know that there are also 

 3          two that are not run by the state that we 

 4          either are or will be drawing information 

 5          from.  I don't have the exact locations for 

 6          you, but it's in the Southern Tier area.  

 7                 So that's painting a good picture of 

 8          air quality in New York State.  And as I 

 9          mentioned in the beginning, the state's vital 

10          signs on air are trending in the right 

11          direction.  We are seeing significant 

12          improvements since 2005 in all of the air 

13          pollutants that are of concern to us.  And 

14          we'll continue to look at that hard and 

15          continue to look at how we space our air 

16          monitors across the state.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, finally, on the 

18          environmental justice grants, just to wrap 

19          up, are there any specific community 

20          demographic requirements or limitations for a 

21          community being eligible for such a grant?

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I believe 

23          that environmental justice communities are 

24          defined in the law.  And we would continue 


                                                                  28

 1          whatever definition we used last year, which 

 2          has proven to be very effective.

 3                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

 4          Commissioner.

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 6          you, Senator.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.  

 8          Our next speaker will be Senator Brad 

 9          Hoylman.  Ranking member?

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  It's the Assembly 

11          now.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Oh, I'm sorry.  

13                 Well, is the Assembly here today?  Oh 

14          yes, you are. 

15                 (Laughter.)  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You're down there.  

17          I'm sorry.  Go ahead, Assemblyman.

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

19          much.  

20                 We've been joined by Assemblyman Felix 

21          Ortiz and Assemblywoman Barrett.  

22                 And first to speak is Assemblyman 

23          Englebright, chairman.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you, 


                                                                  29

 1          Mr. Chairman.  

 2                 Good morning, Commissioner.

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good 

 4          morning, Assemblyman.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Just before 

 6          I begin, I just want to first offer 

 7          congratulations.  Over this past year, the 

 8          Governor has really started to take a 

 9          national leadership role on the question of 

10          climate change.  We see that reflected in 

11          this budget, with a major point of contention 

12          last year being the raid on RGGI.  That's not 

13          in here this year.  The Governor has 

14          responded affirmatively on this, on the 

15          Ambrose Channel gasification project, where 

16          he very emphatically rejected that project, 

17          and of course at that remarkable event at 

18          Columbia University that we were both at -- I 

19          think that was your first day as 

20          commissioner.

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Great 

22          day, first day.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  It was a 

24          great day.  


                                                                  30

 1                 I'm a graduate of the University of 

 2          Tennessee, and of course Al Gore, Sr., was my 

 3          Senator when I was an undergraduate, and his 

 4          son is the gold standard for climate change.  

 5          It was a privilege to see our Governor up on 

 6          the stage with him.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes, it 

 8          was.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  And it was a 

10          privilege to be there with you on your first 

11          day as commissioner.

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

13          you.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  So all of 

15          that being said, I still have some hard 

16          questions for you, so --

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Please.  

18          I would expect nothing less.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Under the 

20          Environmental Protection Fund, under the 

21          invasive species issue, EPF contains 

22          $10 million for invasive species, a 

23          $4.1 million increase over last year.  And 

24          when asked what funding would be used for, 


                                                                  31

 1          the department indicated that specific 

 2          details were not yet available, with the 

 3          exception of $1 million for Adirondack 

 4          invasive initiatives such as boat washing 

 5          stations and boat stewards, and $500,000 to 

 6          combat hydrilla in the Croton River 

 7          Reservoir.

 8                 In the past, invasive species funds 

 9          have been used for preventive activities such 

10          as statewide education and outreach and the 

11          Online Invasive Species Clearinghouse.  The 

12          only funds identified as eradication grants 

13          this year, in the sum of $2 million, are used 

14          for invasive removal.  The DEC indicates that 

15          this year the entire $2 million will be used 

16          only for aquatic invasives.

17                 So here's some questions on this 

18          topic.  New York has become home to hundreds 

19          of invasive species.  That should be the 

20          first thing anyone who is a climate change 

21          denier ought to think about.  The entire 

22          state has been invaded by hundreds of species 

23          that previously were limited by climate to 

24          the south.  These include terrestrial and 


                                                                  32

 1          aquatic species that not only pose the 

 2          potential to out-compete native species but 

 3          also bring an unwelcome financial burden.  

 4          Areas across the state are struggling to 

 5          combat the impacts from lakeside communities 

 6          such as those that the gentleman to my left 

 7          represents.  Assemblymember Stec was very 

 8          kind to invite me to the Adirondacks this 

 9          past summer.  It was eye-opening.  And the 

10          communities there as well as other parts of 

11          the state are struggling to clear 

12          fast-spreading water plants that threaten 

13          recreational boating.  We also have a 

14          southern pine beetle infestation on Long 

15          Island.

16                 Would you please identify the funding 

17          in the budget that will help with eradication 

18          efforts?

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

20          Assemblyman, we have put a priority on 

21          invasive species statewide.  We've understood 

22          that it's a significant impact not only to 

23          the environment but also to local economies.  

24          So the boost of the EPF line reflects we're 


                                                                  33

 1          going to put our money where our mouth is on 

 2          this.  And we're going to work with the 

 3          Legislature, work with our experts to 

 4          determine how the monies are going to be made 

 5          available.  

 6                 The front line, the first action has 

 7          to be on education and prevention.  We want 

 8          to educate the community to ensure that they 

 9          can do -- that they know what they can do to 

10          prevent the spread of various invasives 

11          around the state.

12                 You're right, we have an enormous 

13          amount of work going on in the department 

14          level, not funded by the EPF, to remove the 

15          southern pine beetle, for example, in Long 

16          Island and elsewhere.  We're happy to discuss 

17          the ways in which these additional monies can 

18          be spent and look forward to working with you 

19          on that.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I think we 

21          should take you up on your offer.  I thank 

22          you for indicating an openness and a 

23          willingness, because this is an evolving 

24          program need that we're still discovering the 


                                                                  34

 1          depth of.  And we will cooperate, as we did 

 2          with the visitation invitation, and we will 

 3          be back to you on that.  Appreciate it.

 4                 We're pleased, as I mentioned, to see 

 5          the EPF not working against the environment, 

 6          so to speak, by pulling money, as it did last 

 7          year, out of RGGI.  And instead, the EPF is 

 8          proposed at $300 million.  This is also 

 9          welcome.  And we're grateful to see the 

10          Governor's leadership and your leadership, 

11          because this is really critically important.

12                 This increase is based on $120 million 

13          in settlement monies and an additional $3 

14          million from the General Fund.  Is this 

15          something that we can identify funds for 

16          future years?  We're delighted with this year 

17          and this very bold re-equilibrium, if you 

18          will.  This is what we should have been doing 

19          all along.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Agreed.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  We are 

22          nevertheless grateful that we've taken this 

23          step forward to equalize the funding with the 

24          need.  So what are we looking at for future 


                                                                  35

 1          years?  Where are you going to get the money 

 2          next year?  Is this a one-shot?

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 4          Assemblyman, this is certainly not one-shot.  

 5          A $300 million EPF is now contemplated in the 

 6          financial plan.  We expect to draw upon our 

 7          capital authority to meet a $300 million EPF 

 8          in future years.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  So you will 

10          in future years maintain this level.  That's 

11          a commitment we will look forward to seeing 

12          being kept in future years.  But will the 

13          debt service come out of the EPF?  If we 

14          borrow in the future, where will the debt 

15          service for the borrowing come from?

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, all 

17          I can say, Assemblyman, is that the Division 

18          of Budget has looked at this and this is 

19          achievable within our capacity, our debt 

20          capacity.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I'm not sure 

22          that was the answer to the question, but -- 

23          we're concerned that the debt service not 

24          come out of EPF if borrowing is used in the 


                                                                  36

 1          future.  Just so you understand where we're 

 2          coming from.

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 4          Understood.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

 6                 Shifts to the EPF of projects 

 7          typically found elsewhere in the budget 

 8          include items such as River Basin Commissions 

 9          this year, the Pro-Dairy, Integrated Pest 

10          Management, Brownfield Opportunity Area 

11          program, and certain local landfill 

12          agreements.  Why are these shifts in the 

13          budget this year?

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  These 

15          shifts were on Aid to Localities, and we 

16          moved them into the EPF.  The EPF was 

17          designed to, in part, fund such things as the 

18          Pine Barrens Commission and others.  Many of 

19          the commissions that you just mentioned have 

20          similar missions, similar authorities, and 

21          it's a natural place for them to be, to be 

22          funded through the EPF.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  It is good 

24          to see new money coming into the EPF.  It's 


                                                                  37

 1          not good to see an offloading of other 

 2          expenses at the same time.  So while we'd 

 3          like to cheer that the whole number is 

 4          bigger, in fact it could be even bigger had 

 5          these parts of the new responsibility of EPF 

 6          been kept funded in the way that they'd 

 7          previously been funded.

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 9          Understood.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  These tend 

11          to subtract from the enthusiasm that we just 

12          expressed to you.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

14          Understood.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  One of the 

16          things that will be done with the new funding 

17          is land acquisition.  What if any steps are 

18          being taken to ensure that the state's land 

19          acquisitions are distributed equitably or 

20          more equitably than in prior years?  As you 

21          and I have discussed, the Long Island, 

22          coastal New York region and certain of our 

23          communities in New York City have 

24          historically been dramatically underfunded.


                                                                  38

 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 2          Assemblyman, our approach to land acquisition 

 3          is guided by the state's Open Space Plan, as 

 4          you know, which is a statewide view of 

 5          available land.  Our acquisitions over the 

 6          last year, the last few years, frankly have 

 7          been fairly well balanced.  Last year we 

 8          spent, I believe, $3 million on acquisitions 

 9          in the downstate area, Regions 1, 2 and 3, 

10          which is more than is even contemplated by 

11          the line that's specifically in the EPF on 

12          downstate.  

13                 So we see a number of key parcels 

14          downstate that would be helpful for the 

15          environment.  You and I have talked about 

16          certainly one of them, which is at the top of 

17          our list.  In addition to parkland, there's 

18          also acquisitions of wetlands and title areas 

19          that are important for habitat and for 

20          communities.  So we certainly see downstate 

21          resiliency as a very important objective of 

22          the EPF to prevent the effects of climate 

23          change.  And we've talked, you know, quite a 

24          bit and experienced these storms over the 


                                                                  39

 1          last couple of years where, you know, open 

 2          space is important to downstate.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  As we've 

 4          discussed, the corridor, the wildlife 

 5          corridor that runs through the Bronx, which 

 6          is the Bronx River that also cuts through the 

 7          New York Botanical Garden and its sister 

 8          institution, the Bronx Zoo, is an important 

 9          thing.  I'd like to return to that and 

10          further that conversation with some of the 

11          local representatives there to protect that 

12          habitat in the city as well.

13                 But let me ask you, you know, as you 

14          know, we had a hearing -- Julie Tighe was 

15          there -- on Plum Island.  And Senator LaValle 

16          was kind enough to assist us with that 

17          hearing as well as to provide an opportunity 

18          to visit the island.

19                 So I would like to again say to you I 

20          think we should put a meeting together, 

21          working with the Senator, and go and visit 

22          the island together.

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sounds 

24          fantastic.  I'll get the boat.  You bring the 


                                                                  40

 1          Senator.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  So is this 

 3          on your radar screen?  

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It is, 

 5          very much so.  I mean, Plum Island is 

 6          obviously an important natural resource for 

 7          us.  We have a long-term objective to make 

 8          sure that it's conserved.  I understand the 

 9          auction won't happen until 2023, the federal 

10          auction till 2023, but we certainly need to 

11          keep our eye on it before that, elevate the 

12          profile of the island and see that it's got a 

13          place in the state's long view of 

14          conservation.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you, 

16          Assemblyman.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Okay.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

19          much.  Our next speaker is Senator Brad 

20          Hoylman.

21                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you, Madam 

22          Chair.  And thank you, Chair Farrell, and to 

23          my colleagues.  

24                 It's great to see you, and I echo the 


                                                                  41

 1          enthusiasm from my Assembly colleague on our 

 2          appreciation for your work and the positives 

 3          in this budget:  The $123 million increase to 

 4          the EPF; the environmental justice component, 

 5          which is really terrific; the fact that 

 6          you're not delaying the Diesel Emission 

 7          Reduction Act, all of the emphasis on climate 

 8          change.  Given that 2015 was the hottest year 

 9          in recorded world history, I'm thankful that 

10          the administration is taking major steps to 

11          address this crisis.  

12                 I have a few questions on a range of 

13          topics.  I'll be brief, though.  The first is 

14          the Environmental Protection Fund.  And 

15          again, we're pleased with the increase.  And 

16          my Assembly colleague asked you about 

17          outyears for funding of it.  It's a one-shot 

18          for this year, as you stated and as the 

19          budget indicates.  

20                 Why aren't we linking the EPF to its 

21          original source of funding, the real estate 

22          transfer tax?  That would seem to be the most 

23          logical connection.  I mean, I think the 

24          idea, I think there's a policy goal behind it 


                                                                  42

 1          that as we increase our built environment, 

 2          that we make sure that we protect our natural 

 3          environment through the EPF.  And given that 

 4          real estate values have rebounded, and then 

 5          some, it would seem to be a steady source of 

 6          funding.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, 

 8          Senator, all I can say is that this year the 

 9          settlement funds enable us to do this 

10          $123 million increase.  When we look at the 

11          EPF, as we do any part of the budget, we'll 

12          go year to year and find the best way to find 

13          the resources to meet those goals.  

14                 All I can say is that next year our 

15          view is we will -- we'll find a way to get 

16          the $300 million.  And we believe the fastest 

17          way to do so is by looking at our capital 

18          appropriations.

19                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  So you don't rule 

20          out recoupling it with RETT, with the real 

21          estate transfer tax?  

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I won't 

23          rule that out now, but next year is a 

24          different year.


                                                                  43

 1                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  I would urge you to 

 2          focus on that potential steady source of 

 3          funding.

 4                 In connection with climate change, 

 5          again, I applaud you for the program on 

 6          Climate Smart Communities, funding for the 

 7          climate change mitigation and adaptation.  

 8          Will New York City be eligible as a 

 9          municipality for the Climate Smart 

10          Communities competition?  

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes, 

12          absolutely.  Every municipality in New York 

13          State will be available -- will be able to 

14          take those funds.

15                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  How is that going to 

16          work?  I mean, is it -- do you have a time 

17          frame?  Can you give us some examples of what 

18          kind of projects you're going to be looking 

19          for?

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  

21          Well, I say we're still designing the 

22          program.  Of course we don't have the money 

23          for it yet.  We're still designing the 

24          program.  Our view is to make available the 


                                                                  44

 1          funds for every municipality.  We'll come up 

 2          with criteria that would enable 

 3          municipalities to put plans and proposals in 

 4          front of us so we can fund those proposals.  

 5                 We'll draw upon and certainly favor 

 6          communities that have shown early interest in 

 7          climate change mitigation and adaptation.  I 

 8          mean, there are 176, for example, communities 

 9          that have put together Climate Smart 

10          Communities plans.  I believe there are six 

11          that are certified.  Those are examples of 

12          communities that you may have dozens of great 

13          projects ready to go -- they're almost 

14          shovel-ready -- everything from, you know, 

15          waterfront restoration to reducing one's 

16          dependence on certain sources of carbon 

17          emissions.

18                 So I think the door is wide open for 

19          meaningful projects that will help the state 

20          become more responsible in its climate change 

21          approach.

22                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  And any examples of 

23          what kind of -- like do you have in your 

24          mind's eye the kind of projects you're 


                                                                  45

 1          looking for?

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

 3          would say if a community has a vulnerability 

 4          because of flooding or storm surge and has a 

 5          concept of perhaps using the natural 

 6          infrastructure to prevent that kind of damage 

 7          to communities, that might be one project we 

 8          would fund.

 9                 Similarly, if a community wants to 

10          become more energy independent, use renewable 

11          sources of energy, say, on municipal 

12          structures -- solar panels -- if other 

13          programs that we have in place with our 

14          energy agencies aren't able to address any of 

15          the desires of these communities, then we 

16          would make these funds available to reduce 

17          emissions.

18                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  And how large will 

19          these grants be?  

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We 

21          haven't set the level yet.  We want to make 

22          the grants sizeable enough so that the impact 

23          can be measurable, but small enough such that 

24          we can spread the grants widely throughout 


                                                                  46

 1          the state.

 2                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you.

 3                 On RGGI -- and I'm pleased that you 

 4          mentioned it in the third paragraph of your 

 5          opening comments -- we didn't see the sweep 

 6          as we saw in last year's budget, so again 

 7          thank you for that.  Although it is being 

 8          used for other purposes arguably related to 

 9          the goals of RGGI, but some can claim 

10          otherwise.  Twenty-three million dollars is 

11          going to cover the cost of tax credits, 

12          $15 million is going to be directed to SUNY 

13          for a new clean energy worker training 

14          program.

15                 Since the state has a big climate 

16          pollution reduction and obviously clean 

17          energy goals, why not spend General Fund 

18          revenue to cover the programs being covered 

19          by the RGGI funds and use RGGI to do even 

20          more things?

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We think 

22          that the programs contemplated that we 

23          propose to use RGGI funds to support -- the 

24          tax credit program and the workforce training 


                                                                  47

 1          program -- are entirely appropriate within 

 2          the bounds of RGGI.

 3                 We want to -- through the tax credit 

 4          program we are getting -- we are installing, 

 5          for example, solar panels on homes that's 

 6          reducing the carbon footprint statewide.  On 

 7          the workforce issue, it's a goal to ramp up 

 8          our statewide levels of, for example, again, 

 9          solar panels.  Well, if we want to become the 

10          national leader in the green energy economy, 

11          we've got to have a workforce that's ready 

12          and trained to do those installations and to 

13          monitor those installations.  So the $15 

14          million that goes to that particular need 

15          will only benefit the state in the long term.

16                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  If the Legislature 

17          doesn't approve the transfer of the 

18          $23 million in RGGI funds that have been 

19          linked to the energy tax credit, would you 

20          advocate for repeal of the tax credit?  Or 

21          what do you do in a situation like that?

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I don't 

23          want to speculate as to what we might do if 

24          the funds aren't appropriated.  I think we 


                                                                  48

 1          all understand that the tax credit is vital 

 2          at this stage.  You know, we were successful 

 3          in getting the federal tax credit 

 4          reauthorized this year.  The state tax credit 

 5          is needed as well.  And we're seeing great 

 6          levels of installations across the state.  I 

 7          know my colleagues at NYSERDA can speak to 

 8          that specifically.

 9                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  I just want to take 

10          a moment to talk about an issue close to your 

11          heart, I know, which is the Hudson River and 

12          GE's mitigation efforts.  The National 

13          Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, 

14          NOAA, I think you know has released a report 

15          suggesting that GE's cleanup efforts were 

16          only at about 65 percent of the existing PCBs 

17          in the waterway -- 65.  If my daughter 

18          brought home a 65 on her report card, I 

19          wouldn't be very happy about it.  I think 

20          that's a D.  

21                 And you also know that the EPA is 

22          speeding up its five-year review to make I 

23          think a definitive determination on the 

24          effectiveness of GE's dredging.  


                                                                  49

 1                 Is DEC in contact with EPA about this 

 2          five-year review?  And what are you doing to 

 3          make certain that that happens in a timely 

 4          fashion?

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We are in 

 6          contact with EPA about the five-year review 

 7          and are glad they will be accelerating it.

 8                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  And do you know, is 

 9          there a timeline for the natural resources 

10          damages assessment?  

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That's a 

12          good question.  You know, we have been 

13          conducting studies on the Hudson River for 

14          about 15 years.  We have an extremely 

15          detailed view of the extent of contamination 

16          through this natural resource damage 

17          assessment.  There's actually $2 million in 

18          this year's budget, in the EPF line, to help 

19          fund the continuation of those assessments.  

20          I believe that assessment process should be 

21          wrapped up within the next two years, and at 

22          that point we will have a solid picture of 

23          the damages to the river.

24                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Well, now that 


                                                                  50

 1          General Electric's going to be a Connecticut 

 2          to Boston corporate resident, I don't think 

 3          we should be holding back on our scrutiny of 

 4          their efforts.

 5                 The final question for me also regards 

 6          the river, and it's Hudson River Park, which 

 7          is in my district.  You know, it's a 

 8          five-mile waterfront park, actually the 

 9          longest waterfront park in the nation, 17 

10          million visitors each year, 550 acres, 

11          busiest bikeway in the country.  

12                 I was disappointed to see a 66 percent 

13          cut of funding for the Hudson River Park, 

14          from $2.5 million to $800,000.  They have, as 

15          you know as a member of their board, an 

16          excessive amount of unmet needs, including 

17          $104 million for the reconstruction of a pier 

18          and millions of dollars of operational 

19          expenses each year.

20                 Can you explain why the funding was 

21          decreased?  

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, the 

23          EPF line is actually a little bit misleading.  

24          Eight hundred thousand dollars is not what 


                                                                  51

 1          HRPT will be receiving this year.  They've 

 2          got significant back appropriations, up to 

 3          $22 million worth.  We've spoken with HRPT.  

 4          We're confident that they'll be spending up 

 5          to $6 million this year out of their back 

 6          appropriations.  So the number is a little 

 7          bit misleading, but the good news is their 

 8          projects will get underway this year.

 9                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  It's my 

10          understanding that they believe they didn't 

11          have authorization to spend whatever excess 

12          funds they had.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I don't 

14          believe that's accurate.

15                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Okay.

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yeah.

17                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  So thank you.  Thank 

18          you, Acting Commissioner.  I really, again, 

19          am so appreciative for the outlines of this 

20          budget.  I look forward to working with you 

21          closely, and Julie, in the weeks ahead.

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Great.  

23          Thank you, Senator.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.


                                                                  52

 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 2                 We've been joined by Assemblyman 

 3          Magee, Assemblywoman Hooper, and Assemblyman 

 4          Kaminsky.

 5                 Senator, can we discuss the timing?

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Well, we would ask, 

 7          first of all, the legislators to make sure 

 8          that when you are speaking, to look at your 

 9          screens, because we've gotten into quite a 

10          lengthy proceeding over the past several days 

11          with these hearings.  And so I would ask that 

12          the legislators respect the time limit.

13                 And as we move forward, we may have to 

14          cut down some of the testimony because we 

15          have such a lengthy agenda today.  So some of 

16          the groups that come in may be limited to 

17          five minutes instead of 10.  So I just wanted 

18          to let people know that.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  The members should 

20          also follow that five-minute quote.  If you 

21          keep your questions tight, we can get a lot 

22          done in those five minutes.  Thank you.

23                 Next is Assemblyman Cusick to prove 

24          that's true.


                                                                  53

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you.  I'm 

 2          the test case.  Thank you so much.  

 3                 Welcome to your first committee 

 4          hearing here.

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 6          you.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Welcome.  First, 

 8          I want to thank you for the increase in the 

 9          EPF funding.  As someone whose district has 

10          benefited from the funding with the Pouch 

11          Camp investment by the state, I know how 

12          important it is for land acquisition, and so 

13          I want to thank you on that.  

14                 I have a local issue.  It's going to 

15          surprise a lot of my colleagues here today, 

16          but there is a deer issue in New York City, 

17          and concentrated -- they found their home in 

18          Staten Island.  I just wanted to ask you a 

19          update on that.  I know the last count, it 

20          was close to 800 deer that have now resided 

21          on Staten Island.  Could you give us an 

22          update on what's happening with the plans 

23          with New York City Parks and where we're 

24          heading?  


                                                                  54

 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 2          Absolutely, Assemblyman.  We have a robust 

 3          dialogue underway right now with both the 

 4          USDA and City Parks to develop a management 

 5          plan for deer.  We understand this figure of 

 6          800 deer is besetting the island.  We expect 

 7          to have the plan out for review within the 

 8          next few months.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  In the next few 

10          months we'll have a review?  I know that 

11          there was a meeting with DEC and New York 

12          City Parks and the community to go over how 

13          to live with the deer.  I do have to say they 

14          have gotten used to Staten Island, they 

15          already have that Staten Island attitude.  

16                 (Laughter.)

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  They're running 

18          in the trails of the Green Belt.  I have run 

19          into some of my deer neighbors, and they 

20          don't get off the trail.  So I want to thank 

21          you for having that dialogue with the 

22          community and working with us.

23                 I want to shift gears to air quality.  

24          I know that the topic of air quality has come 


                                                                  55

 1          up, and I know there is one air quality 

 2          monitor on Staten Island at the location of 

 3          Fresh Kills.  Could I put in a request to 

 4          have DEC look at air quality monitors near 

 5          the Goethals Bridge or areas that we border 

 6          New Jersey where the chemical plants are?  I 

 7          know that last summer we had many complaints 

 8          and there was an issue of air quality and 

 9          smell in the air.  If we could work on that, 

10          that would be something that the people of 

11          Staten Island would appreciate.

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We'd love 

13          to work with you on that.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  And just one 

15          more, to keep under the five minutes.  

16                 In your testimony you mentioned about 

17          a new class of DEC officers, I believe?  

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  And I know -- 

20          correct me if I'm wrong -- I think on Staten 

21          Island, for the vast area that we have and 

22          for the environmental needs that occur, I 

23          think there's one officer currently on Staten 

24          Island.  In that class, how will the officers 


                                                                  56

 1          be located to areas?  And will there be 

 2          sufficient officers not only for Staten 

 3          Island, but for downstate?  I understand that 

 4          it would have to be a regional need.

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 6          Assemblyman, we have always approached the 

 7          balance of our ECOs and rangers on a 

 8          year-to-year basis.

 9                 We will review, certainly, the needs 

10          on Staten Island and Region 2, frankly.  I 

11          will say that I did work with your folks, 

12          your local ECOs last weekend.  We had teams 

13          across from Staten Island all the way to 

14          Montauk ready to work on the storm surge, 

15          were that to happen, and on snow removal.  

16          And I will say that whereas you may only have 

17          one in a particular area, they're an 

18          extremely well integrated force, and we were 

19          able to move ECOs downstate very quickly from 

20          Regions 4 and 5 to backfill expected need.

21                 So sometimes the number can be 

22          misleading where one person might be, one ECO 

23          might be.  But we can always move many ECOs 

24          to meet needs on a -- really, on an urgent 


                                                                  57

 1          basis as needed.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  And that's 

 3          understood, and they do a great job.  And I 

 4          know that now we're working on the budget 

 5          with the Legislature, maybe we can work on 

 6          giving them some more help and maybe 

 7          providing some more help down in that region.

 8                 But thank you.  Thank you, 

 9          Commissioner.

10                 And, Mr. Chairman, I just want to note 

11          I am under the five minutes.  Thank you.  

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Very good.  Thank 

14          you very much.  

15                 Our next speaker is Senator Betty 

16          Little.

17                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Thank you.  

18                 Thank you, Commissioner, for being 

19          here.  I have just a few questions.  

20                 One, I was glad to see the Water 

21          Quality Infrastructure Improvement Act 

22          continue this year with another $100 million.  

23          And from the sounds of it, there's $150 

24          million left from last year.  And my question 


                                                                  58

 1          is, is that because there weren't enough 

 2          applications, or were you limited to 

 3          disbursing only $50 million for last year?  

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, 

 5          the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act last 

 6          year contemplated a three-year program.  So 

 7          Year 1 was $50 million, Year 2 is 75, and 

 8          then 75 again.  So we actually, in addition 

 9          to the 50 last year, we were able to go find 

10          that $25 million additional federal dollars 

11          to make it a $75 million program.  

12                 So we still have 150 available; that's 

13          75 this year and 75 next year.  And if we're 

14          able to add the $100 million to it, obviously 

15          it becomes bigger over a two-year period.

16                 SENATOR LITTLE:  All right, so the 

17          $100 million is in addition. 

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

19                 SENATOR LITTLE:  That's really a very, 

20          very good program for many small 

21          municipalities --

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It is.

23                 SENATOR LITTLE:  -- who are under huge 

24          consent orders.


                                                                  59

 1                 The second question I have is I have a 

 2          lot of forestland, and forestland where the 

 3          state pays taxes on it but there can never be 

 4          a building, a house, or anyone ever living on 

 5          it.  And what we have tried to do is we have 

 6          a 480-a program.  And I was disappointed that 

 7          it wasn't in the budget this year.  You're 

 8          continuing to work on that?

 9                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We are, 

10          Senator.  My team has been working hard with 

11          stakeholders over the last year to come up 

12          with a plan that not only benefits the 

13          forests and the property owners up there in 

14          the Adirondacks but, very importantly, the 

15          towns as well and their tax issues.

16                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Absolutely.  And the 

17          streamlining of it is important.  But the 

18          most important thing is either the tax credit 

19          or some reimbursement to the towns for their 

20          lost assessed value.

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Agreed.

22                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Okay.  Thank you very 

23          much.  

24                 And invasive species has always been a 


                                                                  60

 1          topic for me since I got here, actually.  And 

 2          I really appreciate the emphasis on education 

 3          and awareness.  I think the boating 

 4          inspection program this year -- I know Lake 

 5          George was mandatory, but many other parts of 

 6          the state are doing that and just educating 

 7          boaters to know that their boat could be 

 8          carrying invasives and contaminating another 

 9          water body.

10                 The Clean, Drain and Dry program is 

11          very important, and I know we'll continue all 

12          of that.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It is.

14                 SENATOR LITTLE:  However, I have a lot 

15          of small lakes.  I think in the Adirondack 

16          Park there's over 2,000 lakes, and a lot of 

17          them are in my district.  Eradication is 

18          very, very important to these lakes that 

19          already have an invasive.  

20                 And in the beginning, when we started 

21          the program, we had a matching program for 

22          municipalities and for lake associations.  

23          And it would just match them two to one, like 

24          they'd get a dollar for every $2 they were 


                                                                  61

 1          spending.  One time it was one for one.

 2                 But these small associations, many of 

 3          them have forestlands on the lake and so 

 4          there's no resident paying into this 

 5          program -- Eagle Lake, for one.  They can't 

 6          afford it, and they need these matching 

 7          funds.  

 8                 So in the money this year could we do 

 9          a matching program again? 

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We're 

11          certainly willing to entertain the 

12          discussion.  We want to make sure the 

13          dollars, while increased this year, are able 

14          to go far and wide.  You mentioned that we're 

15          doing a really good job on education, and 

16          that's really because an enormous number of 

17          people have come together to work on this -- 

18          both sides of the aisle; you know, 

19          traditional foes are now friends on this 

20          issue.  We can do more in eradication, and 

21          we'd be willing to entertain a discussion on 

22          that.

23                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Well, the 

24          invasives -- and I'm talking about the 


                                                                  62

 1          aquatic ones.  I live on a small lake, and 

 2          we've had milfoil, zebra mussels, pond weed 

 3          and other things.  And it does take away the 

 4          value of the property as well as the 

 5          recreational opportunities, unless you can 

 6          work at eradicating.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Agreed.

 8                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Which is what my lake 

 9          has done.  

10                 But the other thing is, if anything is 

11          stewardship, I think this is.  This is really 

12          stewardship of the lakes that we have and 

13          keeping the water quality good, so any money 

14          put towards that is really important.

15                 But thank you very much, and thanks 

16          for all you're doing.

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

18          you, Senator.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

20                 Assemblyman?  

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

22                 Assemblywoman Russell.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN RUSSELL:  Thank you, 

24          Mr. Chairman.  


                                                                  63

 1                 Thank you, Commissioner.  Like several 

 2          of my colleagues, I am also very happy about 

 3          the proposed increase in the Water 

 4          Infrastructure Improvement Act.  I have a 

 5          number of communities that are struggling 

 6          with water quality issues.  And your 

 7          testimony today regarding criteria, I would 

 8          like to delve into a little bit more.  

 9                 You indicated that you thought the 

10          criteria used for this grant pool for the 

11          first $50 million worked out pretty well.  

12          And I'm just wondering if you do see areas 

13          that we can maybe tweak that criteria to help 

14          out some long-struggling communities.

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

16          know the program has been very effective, 

17          Assemblywoman, to address communities of 

18          need, from the hardship communities to those 

19          that are not hardship.  

20                 As we did last year with the 

21          Legislature, we worked hard on establishing 

22          criteria that would be all-encompassing.  We 

23          believe it's written well.  At this point 

24          we'd be willing to entertaining any ideas the 


                                                                  64

 1          Legislature has in order to ensure that we 

 2          get funds to the right places.  But I'm not 

 3          aware of any barriers at this point.  It's a 

 4          well-functioning program.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN RUSSELL:  One of my 

 6          communities was of the understanding that 

 7          because they were building a new water 

 8          district that they were ineligible to apply 

 9          because the funding criteria specified that 

10          it was for existing systems.  And that was a 

11          barrier to addressing an environmental 

12          concern.  

13                 And so I would ask that maybe we look 

14          at, you know, at least a portion of it to 

15          allow grant funding to go to projects that 

16          are not existing municipal water systems, to 

17          address kind of, you know, the areas like 

18          mine that most of the area isn't covered by 

19          water districts.

20                 In addition, you know, when we're 

21          looking -- I'm absolutely sensitive to those 

22          communities that rank highly in terms of 

23          poverty and the problems with the water 

24          quality in their area.  But now we also have 


                                                                  65

 1          a situation where even with EFC and USDA 

 2          bundled financing, there is still a gap.  So 

 3          it was great to see that the $50 million 

 4          leveraged $440 million in projects, but I 

 5          would submit that there are other projects 

 6          out there that are nearly all the way funded, 

 7          but without grant funding they do not meet 

 8          the Comptroller's calculation for, you know, 

 9          the income of the people in the district.

10                 So we have -- it seems like maybe our 

11          scoring on income is out of whack when the 

12          Comptroller says, no, you need more grant 

13          funding in order to make this work.

14                 So I would suggest that there are a 

15          couple of areas there, you know, in terms of 

16          addressing water issues outside of existing 

17          districts, and the gap in actually having a 

18          project be able to move forward and meet the 

19          income guidelines that the Comptroller's 

20          office requires.

21                 So I would just ask that we take a 

22          look at these types of issues because I have 

23          a serious problem in my district, which I 

24          know you're aware of, where criteria shifts, 


                                                                  66

 1          even if it was a portion of that money that 

 2          had those enhanced criteria, would go a long 

 3          way, and also bring in that additional -- 

 4          that matching funding from other funding 

 5          sources and open up economic development in 

 6          many instances.

 7                 And then, secondly, you know, the 

 8          Executive Budget proposes increasing Oceans 

 9          and Great Lakes Initiatives funding by 

10          $9 million to $15 million.  I represent the 

11          St. Lawrence River Valley, and so all of 

12          the Great Lakes --

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Beautiful 

14          place.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN RUSSELL:  Yes.  All the 

16          Great Lakes flow right through my entire 

17          district up into Canada and out into the 

18          ocean.  

19                 And so I was just wondering, you know, 

20          are there any projects on tap for the Great 

21          Lakes area in my region of the state?  As 

22          it's a beautiful area that we're highlighting 

23          with tourism funding, but we also have the 

24          issues of invasive species and concern about 


                                                                  67

 1          security and maintaining the environment 

 2          there.  So I just didn't know if there was 

 3          any further details on what we expect to do 

 4          there.

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  The Great 

 6          Lakes Action Plan, as you know, that's been 

 7          developed over the course of a couple of 

 8          years, contemplates significant work both in 

 9          Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence.  

10          This line has funded St. Lawrence River 

11          Valley projects in the past.  We anticipate 

12          it will in the future and will be part of the 

13          Great Lakes Action Plan.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN RUSSELL:  Thank you very 

15          much.

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

17          you.

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Our 

20          next speaker is Senator Diane Savino.

21                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

22          Young.  

23                 I'm going to try and do this first.  

24          So first, with respect to the issue that 


                                                                  68

 1          Assemblyman Cusick brought up with the Staten 

 2          Island deer, I just want to add one thing to 

 3          that.  You know, the Staten Island deer were 

 4          not Staten Islanders, they were originally 

 5          from Jersey.  They're doing a reverse 

 6          commute.  

 7                 (Laughter.)

 8                 SENATOR SAVINO:  And recently, 

 9          recently two of them decided to take a trip 

10          to Coney Island.  They swam across the 

11          narrows, they showed up in Brooklyn --

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's 

13          tourism.

14                 SENATOR SAVINO:  -- and what happened 

15          was they were scooped up and delivered back 

16          to Staten Island.  That's not the way to deal 

17          with deer.  They were not ours to begin with.  

18          So I just want to remind you of that.

19                 In addition, our turkey problem.  You 

20          guys have been great.  The turkeys probably 

21          will never really go away.  But whenever we 

22          find a farm upstate that's willing to accept 

23          the turkeys, the regulations in order for 

24          them to accept them are a little bit 


                                                                  69

 1          ridiculous.  They have to put up a fence, 

 2          they have to add barbed wire.  So it's a 

 3          disincentive to anybody to take them.  And as 

 4          you know, the turkeys are a real problem.  

 5                 Phragmites, the complaints are not as 

 6          much as they used to be because of the Sandy 

 7          buyout, but they're still there and they are 

 8          a fire hazard in the summertime, so we need 

 9          to focus on that.

10                 And finally, the thing that I'm most 

11          concerned about now -- you didn't touch on it 

12          in your discussion, but the Bottle Bill.  

13          Right now there are a number of illegal 

14          redemption centers in New York City.  One of 

15          them is in my district.  And on any given 

16          day, you will see massive truckloads coming 

17          from all over the city and delivering them to 

18          this one particular location.  

19                 Your agency has actually investigated 

20          it and found that they were engaging in 

21          illegal redemption.  Their activity, which 

22          forced a wholesaler on Staten Island to 

23          accept deposits that he did not initiate, 

24          forced him to go out of business.  He could 


                                                                  70

 1          no longer afford it.  He sold his 

 2          distributorship, which had been in business 

 3          in his family for 30 years, back to 

 4          Anheuser-Busch.  Something has to be done 

 5          about the illegal redemption centers and the 

 6          double redemption that's happening.

 7                 In addition, there are people every 

 8          morning who walk up and down the streets in 

 9          New York City, especially in Staten Island 

10          when people put their blue cans out -- they 

11          are taking the cans out of people's 

12          residential boxes, also taking it out of the 

13          city's revenue stream.  

14                 It should be illegal to do that.  We 

15          have to crack down on this.  If the Bottle 

16          Bill is going to work, everyone has to be on 

17          the same page and there has to be 

18          enforcement.  We cannot drive businesses out 

19          because they're being forced to take in 

20          product that they did not initiate.  

21                 So we need your help on this.  I know 

22          it's also an issue of local enforcement with 

23          Sanitation.  But there has to be a discussion 

24          with Kathryn Garcia.  She is as frustrated as 


                                                                  71

 1          we are, because she's seeing the city's 

 2          revenue disappear out of the blue boxes.  So 

 3          we need to take a look at this with fresh 

 4          eyes and figure out how to solve this 

 5          problem.  

 6                 Thank you.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We'd be 

 8          happy to do that with you, Senator.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

11                 Assemblyman Stec.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Thank you, 

13          Chairman.  

14                 Hello, Commissioner.

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

16          Assemblyman.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  My time is limited, 

18          so I'll jump right in here.  

19                 But I first want to echo what Chairman 

20          Englebright and Senator Little pointed out, 

21          and others, about the importance of aquatic 

22          invasive species, certainly in my district.  

23          And I appreciate the chairman coming up, as 

24          he did last summer, to see firsthand a few 


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 1          bodies of water in the district.  

 2                 But, you know, I'm a strong advocate 

 3          for this, and I think that we need to make 

 4          sure that we're looking statewide.  I'd like 

 5          to see more efforts put into eradication.  

 6          And I think -- you know, everyone uses the 

 7          expression about a rising tide lifting all 

 8          boats, and I think a statewide approach to 

 9          this, as opposed to a hunt and peck, you 

10          know, whack-a-mole to various bodies of water 

11          -- while, you know, there's a few that are 

12          particular to me, in my district I've got 

13          dozens and dozens of lakes that most people 

14          in the room here may not have heard of.  But 

15          they're all struggling with aquatic 

16          invasives.  

17                 I think it's an awful lot to put on a 

18          local municipality or a homeowners or a lake 

19          owners association when I think that there's 

20          a statewide benefit.  So I'd like to see as 

21          much funneled into the eradication effort in 

22          aquatics as possible.

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

24          Understood.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  The first question 

 2          I'd like to ask, though, getting back to the 

 3          EPF -- and we've talked a little bit about 

 4          the $75 million that's in place for water 

 5          projects.  But I'd like to talk about sewer 

 6          projects and funding for sewer projects.  

 7                 In particular, I know that it's been 

 8          identified that there's a multi-billion- 

 9          dollar need statewide in both water and 

10          wastewater infrastructure in the state.  And 

11          certainly, as you can imagine, I've got 

12          several municipalities that are small 

13          municipalities, but they're located in 

14          critically environmentally sensitive areas on 

15          pristine bodies of water, important national 

16          bodies of water, Lake Champlain and Lake 

17          George.

18                 But the economies of scale are not 

19          there as they are in urban areas to make 

20          sewer easy to pay for.  So can you talk a 

21          little bit about the funding that is in place 

22          for these needs in particular, and bearing in 

23          mind that -- and can you also confirm that 

24          DEC has issued several dozens, my 


                                                                  74

 1          understanding is, consent orders on 

 2          wastewater projects to municipalities around 

 3          the state and that there's a deadline of 2018 

 4          to get this work done?  I've been told by a 

 5          few of my communities that that is just not 

 6          achievable with the current financial support 

 7          that's in place.  So either more money or 

 8          more time on those consent orders would be 

 9          desirable.

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

11          Understood.

12                 First of all, on the Water 

13          Infrastructure Improvement Act, just to make 

14          clear, that provides money not just for 

15          drinking water but also for wastewater.  So 

16          the $75 million this year that we would be 

17          adding to, that we propose to add to with the 

18          extra hundred million dollars, would go on a 

19          60/40 split, as it did last year, 

20          wastewater/drinking water.  So we handle, 

21          with EFC, the wastewater side.  

22                 So there is significant money this 

23          year to help close the gap that the 

24          communities are looking for on financing.


                                                                  75

 1                 Specifically on the wastewater plants 

 2          that you're talking about that are under 

 3          consent order, we have unfortunately many 

 4          consent orders around the state on 

 5          wastewater.  We'd be happy to work with you 

 6          on the specific municipalities that have 

 7          issues with those consent orders.  We've done 

 8          that in the past and found creative ways to 

 9          accelerate compliance.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  All right, I 

11          appreciate that.  

12                 In the same vein -- and I know no DEC 

13          commissioner is going to come here at a 

14          budget hearing and say that they need more 

15          money than the Governor has requested in the 

16          budget, but I am concerned that occasionally 

17          it seems the state's management approach to 

18          new land purchases or just existing state 

19          responsibilities is to just maintain the 

20          status quo, buy new land and put a padlock 

21          across it, and that's the management plan.  

22          It's a cheap way to do it, but I'm not sure 

23          it's exactly what the residents had in mind 

24          or certainly I don't think it's beneficial in 


                                                                  76

 1          these instances to the localities that have 

 2          this.  

 3                 But I'm concerned with the 

 4          department's ability to keep up with 

 5          maintaining and updating Unit Management 

 6          Plans and the State Land Use Master Plan.  As 

 7          you know, there's a few that are currently 

 8          ongoing in the Adirondacks.  In my opinion, 

 9          they've been going on far longer than they 

10          should, and it's either a political issue or 

11          it's a funding issue that I think is at the 

12          root here of what the holdup is.  

13                 So are you adequately staffed to 

14          maintain this?  Because the status quo may be 

15          desirable to some in this room, but to the 

16          people that I represent, you know, the 

17          localities, these changes will make a 

18          difference economically to the communities in 

19          the Adirondacks.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

21          can tell you this, Assemblyman.  We have 

22          developed a fairly aggressive approach to 

23          tapping into the UMPs that have been 

24          lingering for many years.  We have a Lean 


                                                                  77

 1          process underway that will focus specifically 

 2          on the UMPs to make sure those move more 

 3          quickly.  

 4                 And yes, you're right, some of them 

 5          are politically charged, but that hasn't 

 6          stopped us from confronting some of the 

 7          issues and trying to find balance.

 8                 We are adequately staffed to manage 

 9          projects.  Our goal is, again, with any of 

10          our acquisition projects to ensure we have a 

11          balanced approach that, you know, is not a 

12          padlock approach, that we have protections 

13          and use.  Because we know it's important to 

14          the communities in the Adirondacks and, 

15          frankly, elsewhere in the state.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  All right, thank 

17          you.  And my time is up.  Thank you.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

19          you.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

21          much.  Our next speaker is Senator Liz 

22          Krueger.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

24                 I'm following up on several questions.  


                                                                  78

 1          So there was a discussion about taking some 

 2          of the RGGI funds for non-traditional RGGI 

 3          purposes, and actually my colleague Senator 

 4          Hoylman raised the point that we were 

 5          actually paying for some environmental tax 

 6          exemptions and credits by drawing down on 

 7          RGGI.  

 8                 We have over $26 billion worth of tax 

 9          exemptions and credits in the laws of New 

10          York State, the tax code.  This is the first 

11          time I've ever seen our need to pay for them 

12          by drawing down from some other program.  Can 

13          you explain to me why we feel the need to 

14          reimburse ourselves from RGGI for these tax 

15          exemptions when we don't, for example, deal 

16          with that for over $1.6 billion in 

17          fossil-fuel-related tax credits in this 

18          state?

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, 

20          just to clarify, this is actually the second 

21          year where we would propose to use RGGI funds 

22          for this purpose.  We did that last year as 

23          well.

24                 Look, we believe the RGGI is designed 


                                                                  79

 1          to help reduce carbon emissions in New York 

 2          State.  The tax credit program is also 

 3          designed to reduce carbon emissions in New 

 4          York State by getting solar and other 

 5          renewables to homes.  So there's a natural 

 6          marriage of interest there between the two.  

 7          So I would disagree that it's an 

 8          inappropriate use of RGGI funds.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Would you agree with 

10          me that it is worth exploring the fact that 

11          we are giving out tax credits to the tune of 

12          $1.6 billion for fossil fuels, as opposed to 

13          this very small amount of tax credits we're 

14          giving for environmentally sound models that 

15          we want to encourage people to participate 

16          in?

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

18          can just tell you that the Governor has been 

19          outspoken recently on the state's desire to 

20          transition away from fossil fuels.  We 

21          have -- my colleagues will be testifying to 

22          that later today, on their efforts.  

23                 All options are available to us.  And 

24          we'll ensure that the state is acting 


                                                                  80

 1          appropriately in the long term, for the long 

 2          term.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I think everybody 

 4          is focused, from the news now, on issues with 

 5          drinking water and the risks that may be 

 6          facing our communities.  Obviously you had a 

 7          press announcement yesterday about 

 8          intervening with the problems in Hoosick 

 9          Falls -- did I say that correctly?  Thank 

10          you -- which was a specific chemical 

11          contamination.  No one who's aware of 

12          anything going on in the world is not aware 

13          about the Flint, Michigan, crisis, which is 

14          an issue of lead through corrosion in the 

15          pipes.  

16                 And we've had quite a bit of 

17          discussion about infrastructure monies for 

18          water, for fixing problems when we see them.  

19          And it's great that we're seeing the 

20          increase.  I applaud the Governor.  I suspect 

21          it's a drop in the bucket -- bad pun -- 

22          compared to where we might need to go.

23                 How do citizens find out and make sure 

24          that they are not in the situation of the 


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 1          people of Hoosick Falls or any other part of 

 2          the state?  Can they contact you to test 

 3          their water when they worry there's something 

 4          going on?  

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, we 

 6          have a strong relationship with the 

 7          Department of Health.  The Department of 

 8          Health really is the front-line state agency 

 9          that deals with drinking water, so I would 

10          defer questions to them.  And they are and 

11          they have been making themselves available 

12          statewide for those types of questions.

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I know in 

14          New York City, if I have a concern about my 

15          water, I can contact the city DEC --

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  DEP.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Excuse me.  Excuse 

18          me.  DEP -- and they send me a kit and I pour 

19          some of my house water into it and I send it 

20          back, and they do an evaluation.  

21                 Is there an equivalent model for the 

22          people in the rest of the state?  

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would 

24          have to check with Dr. Zucker.  I don't 


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 1          believe that the DOH has that program.  But 

 2          we should check with him.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Do you think it 

 4          would be a good idea at this point in 

 5          history, to offer that?

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

 7          used to be a homeowner in New York City, and 

 8          that was effective when I was there.  I 

 9          tested my pipes that way.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I think it would be 

11          a good idea for everyone in the State of New 

12          York to be reassured that the water they're 

13          drinking from their taps is not going to 

14          poison them or their children.

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would 

16          agree.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  There was a question 

18          earlier about continuing the brownfields 

19          program, and the answer was we're not making 

20          any changes.  Can you estimate for me how 

21          much we're spending in tax credits for the 

22          current brownfield program now?

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I'd have 

24          to get back to you with the statistics on 


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 1          that.  I know it's been a very successful 

 2          program over its years, and the changes that 

 3          we made last year with the Legislature were 

 4          very responsible changes in, you know, 

 5          reducing some of the fraud that had occurred 

 6          within the account.  

 7                 We have a regular flow of applications 

 8          now coming in.  The new changes to the 

 9          regulations have taken effect, and it's a 

10          well-functioning program.  But I can get you 

11          the details on all of that.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I'd appreciate 

13          the -- and the comparison charts of the old 

14          program with where we're going.

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

16          Absolutely.  We'll get it to you.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.  

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

20                 Assemblywoman Lifton.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you.  

22                 Good morning, Commissioner.

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

24          Assemblywoman.  Good morning.


                                                                  84

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I know that you 

 2          have a lot of responsibilities on your plate, 

 3          clearly, at DEC.  But can I ask you if you 

 4          agree with me that climate change is the 

 5          biggest problem we face as a state, as a 

 6          country?  Would you agree with me that indeed 

 7          it's a crisis that we're facing?  

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would.  

 9          I would.  There is, in my view, no greater 

10          threat to the long-term survivability of the 

11          human race than climate change.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you, 

13          Commissioner.  

14                 So to follow up on that, as you know, 

15          I'm sure, an Executive Order in 2009 said 

16          we're going to have a climate action panel, 

17          we're going to go create a climate action 

18          plan.  In 2010 we had a draft plan that went 

19          out for comment but it's never been 

20          finalized.  Six years later, we still don't 

21          have a client action plan.  

22                 Is there a plan in the making, is 

23          there a plan to have a plan?  Last year when 

24          I asked the commissioner, he said we've been 


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 1          very busy doing the regulations to do the 

 2          adaptions -- the new law that we passed, much 

 3          needed -- implying that we don't have enough 

 4          staff, really, at DEC to do this job.  

 5                 But where are we now on having staff 

 6          at DEC working to produce a real climate 

 7          action plan for the state?

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

 9          would say that the concept of a climate 

10          action plan has passed us.  We are now 

11          focused on action.  And our state agencies -- 

12          DEC, NYSERDA, DPS -- in the last year have 

13          laid out really one of the most ambitious 

14          plans to reduce the amount of carbon that the 

15          state produces, both through the State Energy 

16          Plan, the Reforming the Energy Vision 

17          process, the lowering of the RGGI cap, the 

18          amount of money we put into resiliency, both 

19          through Sandy dollars and now through the 

20          EPF.  

21                 We have moved past planning and we're 

22          actually in implementation right now.  We've 

23          set goals to reduce carbon that will be 

24          binding by 2030.  We've gone beyond that for 


                                                                  86

 1          2050 -- 80 percent reduction in carbon.  

 2          These aren't just goals.  You know, the 

 3          Governor, I -- I don't like to see plans 

 4          sitting on shelves and goals without any 

 5          teeth behind them.  Our focus has been --

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I'm sorry, 

 7          would you repeat what you just said?  We 

 8          don't -- the last sentence.  I'm sorry, I 

 9          missed -- there was a lot of commotion.

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Our focus 

11          is not on plans but on implementation.  And I 

12          have no desire to see a plan sit on a shelf.  

13          I want to see action and results.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Well, I agree 

15          that action is very important.  But, you 

16          know, it's great to have goals; goals are 

17          critical.  But to get to a goal, you have to 

18          have a clear plan; right?  You have to have 

19          -- what we have now feels fragmented to me, 

20          as a state legislator, trying to keep track 

21          of it -- REV, State Energy Plan, and now we 

22          have a Climate Mitigation Adaptation Program 

23          of some sort.  Lots of different programs.  

24          They all seem like good tools to go forward.  


                                                                  87

 1                 But it seems to me that to get to 

 2          goals, you have to have some sort of clear 

 3          plan in place.  And I would hope, given what 

 4          came out of Paris with a lot of talk about 

 5          1.5 rather than 2 as a goal, we really have 

 6          to step up our efforts, that we ought to be 

 7          front-loading any goals and activities we 

 8          have.  The tools are great, but it seems like 

 9          you can't build a house without the actual 

10          plans for the house.

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

12          Understood.  Well, listen.  I believe this 

13          may be a question of messaging.  Right?  We 

14          are doing a great deal.  We want to do more.  

15          We're putting out, you know, I would think 

16          some of the most ambitious announcements and 

17          commitments.  We want to ensure the public 

18          understands that.  Certainly the Governor 

19          talking about it, as he has recently, is 

20          helping to hone all of the actions that we're 

21          doing, really frankly statewide.  It's not 

22          just DEC and NYSERDA, you know, it's Ag and 

23          Markets, it's Parks.  You know, we're one 

24          government looking to address one of the most 


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 1          pressing crises of our time, and if it's not 

 2          being communicated in such a way as to be 

 3          understandable, then we'll have to double 

 4          down on that.  But I'm confident we are 

 5          heading in one of the more ambitious 

 6          directions in the nation right now.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Can we expect 

 8          the DEC to issue draft regulations that will 

 9          set RGGI-like carbon pollution limits for 

10          other sectors other than the energy sector?

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, we 

12          -- as the Governor announced when we were 

13          with Vice President Al Gore, we are exploring 

14          right now linking our carbon markets with 

15          other carbon markets.  As you might know, 

16          California has a similar carbon market system 

17          which is economy-wide.  It takes into account 

18          transportation, whereas ours does not.  We 

19          need to think through all the various 

20          pitfalls of linking that system together.  

21          It's an exploration we're having right now 

22          with our counterparts in California.  It's 

23          not an easy thing to merge two very different 

24          systems.  But we are open to making sure that 


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 1          we have the most aggressive carbon market 

 2          system in New York State, knowing that we are 

 3          a part of a multistate organization of RGGI 

 4          states.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you, 

 6          Commissioner.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 8          you, ma'am.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

10                 Our next speaker is Senator Phil 

11          Boyle.

12                 SENATOR BOYLE:  Thank you, Chairwoman.  

13          Thank you, Commissioner.

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator.

15                 SENATOR BOYLE:  First I'd like to 

16          commend you on a great increase in the 

17          Environmental Protection Fund.  It's great to 

18          see, and I look forward to working with you 

19          to make sure they try to stay in there.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

21          you.

22                 SENATOR BOYLE:  The other issue is 

23          deer.  Staten Island has deer; I represent 

24          Fire Island, and we have a lot of deer.  The 


                                                                  90

 1          federal government has come up with a plan, 

 2          evidently -- still in the final stages -- of 

 3          culling the herd through shooting them, which 

 4          is making the constituents very upset.  

 5          They've tried that 20-some-odd years ago, and 

 6          it didn't go over well at all.  That's not 

 7          your issue; I understand.  

 8                 But what the DEC does in New York, and 

 9          I have dealt with the department over a 

10          number of years, is the 4-Poster.  If you're 

11          familiar with this, it's a machine that you 

12          can get food for the deer, corn; they rub 

13          their ear against it and it kills the ticks, 

14          which is the most significant thing when 

15          you're having a problem with deer.  

16                 Lyme disease was a rampant problem 20 

17          years ago, 15 years ago.  Now people that 

18          live there tell me that the ticks are almost 

19          nonexistent.  It is a great way of killing 

20          the ticks and stopping Lyme disease from 

21          spreading.

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That's 

23          great.

24                 SENATOR BOYLE:  The DEC has had a 


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 1          problem with some of the medication and the 

 2          drugs that are used, so I -- I know you're 

 3          probably not familiar with it in your new 

 4          position, but please look into it.  It's 

 5          called the 4-Poster machine, and have your 

 6          staff brief you on it.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Will do, 

 8          sir.

 9                 SENATOR BOYLE:  Thank you.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Crouch.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Yes, thank you, 

13          Commissioner.  Good to see you here.

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

15          you.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Couple of things.  

17          The tire recycling fee, $2.50, how much does 

18          that generate on an annual basis? 

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's 25 

20          to $26 million a year.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Twenty-five 

22          million?

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Years ago the 


                                                                  92

 1          annual waste tire stream was about 30 million 

 2          tires a year.  Are we not getting some of the 

 3          fees in collection, or are people buying 

 4          their tires out of state?

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  No, I 

 6          don't believe so, sir.  I believe we've -- 

 7          we're -- yeah, it's actually gone up, I 

 8          think.  Yeah, the collections have gone up.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Okay.  What does 

10          that go for?  What is that utilized for in 

11          the budget?

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, as 

13          you might know, we've had tremendous success 

14          in remediating tire piles around the state.  

15          I think over the course of the waste tire 

16          fund, 159 sites around the state we've 

17          cleaned up.  You know, the $125 million to do 

18          so.  

19                 There are a number of sites that 

20          remain unremediated.  We find new ones, we 

21          find expanded ones regularly.  So the fund 

22          goes to keep the state protected from those 

23          waste tire piles.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Okay.  Does it go 


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 1          for staff or does it always go for these 

 2          programs?

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  As you 

 4          might know, the account certainly helps our 

 5          solid waste team.  It does go for staff.  And 

 6          it supports the work that the staff does on 

 7          waste tires and other wastes.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Does anything go 

 9          to promote more recycling programs?  

10          Something that, you know, can make a widget 

11          out of a tire, or some other product, does 

12          anything go for that type of support?  

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We 

14          have -- certainly the municipal waste and 

15          recycling line in the EPF goes to providing 

16          grants for recycling around the state.  We 

17          promote recycling around the state through a 

18          number of our different programmatic 

19          activities that are --

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  But not just tire 

21          recycling?  

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Not just 

23          the waste tire issue, no.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Yeah, okay.  


                                                                  94

 1                 The number of forest rangers, are you 

 2          increasing the number of forest rangers in 

 3          your budget?  

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, 

 5          we're adding a class, we're actually having a 

 6          class begin in -- I believe a month.  Exactly 

 7          a month from today, our first class starts.  

 8          That's going to begin recovering the numbers, 

 9          slightly, of the rangers and ECOs.  So 

10          hopefully that class will, after six months, 

11          produce the next wave of our finest.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Okay.  I've had a 

13          lot of loggers in my district express concern 

14          that there's good solid trees that are not 

15          being taken care of on state lands that are 

16          basically rotting on the stump, they should 

17          be cut.  And I've always been concerned about 

18          how the state manages its state forestlands.  

19          If you've got, you know, good timber out 

20          there, that's dollars that the state could 

21          take advantage of.  And as we cut our 

22          forests, the state should be a model for 

23          forest management.  

24                 And as you know, maturity forests 


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 1          really don't support wildlife, it's got to be 

 2          -- you know, have some cutting done so you've 

 3          got younger growth to support the wildlife.  

 4          So I'd just encourage increasing our 

 5          foresters so we can properly manage our state 

 6          forests and get some of this timber out for 

 7          bid.  The state needs the revenue, as we 

 8          know.  So I'd just -- you're new on board and 

 9          I just want to make that statement that I 

10          firmly believe we need to manage our state 

11          forests properly.

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would 

13          agree with you.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Thank you.

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

16          you.  

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

18                 We've been joined by Assemblyman 

19          Abinanti.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

21          much.  

22                 I did have a couple of questions, and 

23          then I think Senator O'Mara would like to bat 

24          cleanup.  But I did want to ask you about 


                                                                  96

 1          electronic waste recycling.  I know NYSAC, 

 2          the New York State Association of Counties, 

 3          has come out and said that they would like to 

 4          see a $6 million allocation in the budget to 

 5          deal with electronic waste.  And it is a 

 6          major problem.  

 7                 And in fact I know in my district, for 

 8          example, cathode ray tubes from televisions 

 9          are a problem.  And originally when the 

10          Legislature took action on this, it was to 

11          require the manufacturers to handle the 

12          issue.  Unfortunately, that is not happening.  

13          And that is a dead technology, as you know.  

14          It has environmental concerns.  

15                 And I just wanted to get your thoughts 

16          on how to handle this.  Because if there is 

17          money in the budget, I think it would be well 

18          spent to get this electronic waste out of our 

19          environment.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We 

21          certainly agree, Senator.  

22                 The good news on e-waste is that 

23          people are turning in their e-waste, by and 

24          large.  The more troubling news is that 


                                                                  97

 1          sometimes the requirements aren't really well 

 2          embraced by the manufacturers.  So we're 

 3          working with the manufacturers right now; 

 4          I've convened my team to discuss ways in 

 5          which we can improve their understanding of 

 6          how to comply with the law.  We do have a 

 7          number of investigations done throughout the 

 8          course of the year to ensure compliance.  

 9                 I certainly understand the issue of 

10          the cathode ray tube.  You know, it's a 

11          large, heavy piece of glass that is often 

12          difficult to recycle.  It's trouble to 

13          handle, trouble to deal with, and the markets 

14          aren't really well established.  

15                 So our approach is we need to ensure 

16          compliance, we need to ensure that they 

17          understand how to comply with the law -- and 

18          by "they" I mean the companies -- and that 

19          communities are given resources.  And we're 

20          certainly exploring, you know, the ways in 

21          which we might be able to support them.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  But even with 

23          recyclers, what happens is that if they're 

24          taking recycled materials, they'll charge the 


                                                                  98

 1          consumer to drop it off.  And the consumer 

 2          obviously does not want to have to pay for 

 3          that, they just want to get rid of it.  So I 

 4          think it's an issue that we should explore 

 5          some more and see if there's some solutions 

 6          that we can come to.

 7                 Also, quickly, as you heard today, 

 8          there's so much interest in clean water.  And 

 9          I'm glad to see that the Governor has added 

10          to the fund.  We were here till very late 

11          last night -- in fact, somebody said that the 

12          first meeting of the State Legislature was in 

13          1780 on that date yesterday, and we all felt 

14          like we had been there since 1780 because the 

15          proceedings went on so long.

16                 (Laughter.)

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  But I bring that up 

18          because, as we know, New York has such a rich 

19          history.  We're one of the oldest states, one 

20          of the first states settled.  And as a 

21          result, our infrastructure is old.  And so 

22          many communities that are cash-strapped do 

23          not fix their infrastructure.  And I have 

24          communities that wait more than a hundred 


                                                                  99

 1          years to upgrade their water systems, upgrade 

 2          their sewer systems, and as a result there 

 3          are a lot of issues.  

 4                 You said that there was about 

 5          $50 million, I believe, that was unspent from 

 6          the EFC last year.  And my question is, have 

 7          we done any kind of inventory on the water 

 8          and sewer systems in the communities across 

 9          the state?  And if we have, is there any way 

10          that we can be more proactive in helping 

11          these communities address their problems?  

12          Because what I see is they allow it to get to 

13          the point of failure, then there are consent 

14          orders and there are environmental orders and 

15          there are fiscal issues.  Communities feel 

16          like they're going bankrupt as a result of 

17          this, taxes go up, and it's a big problem, 

18          obviously.  

19                 So is there any kind of central list 

20          of these systems in communities across the 

21          state?  And if there isn't, is there 

22          something that we can do to be more on the 

23          ball?

24                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes, 


                                                                  100

 1          Senator, there is a centralized list.  I 

 2          mean, the Environmental Facilities 

 3          Corporation, which I am chair of, maintains a 

 4          list both of the drinking water systems and 

 5          the wastewater systems that have either 

 6          evinced some sort of interest in getting 

 7          financing or have gotten financing.  

 8                 We know where the problems are.  This 

 9          is a really -- the solutions need to be 

10          partnership-based.  The state can hopefully 

11          provide more resources this year through our 

12          legislation.  But the municipalities 

13          obviously need to step up when they can and 

14          when they're able to.  

15                 And we have staff both in my 

16          department, at DEC, as well as EFC who are 

17          trying to get ahead of the ball.  Right?  We 

18          want to get ahead and promote education, 

19          promote awareness of the resources that are 

20          available so that we can begin fixing 

21          problems before they become health problems 

22          or wastewater problems.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And have we 

24          quantified the amount of money it would take 


                                                                  101

 1          to fix all of these systems across the state?

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, 

 3          Senator, I only saw what was put out years 

 4          ago, that this is a $36 billion 

 5          infrastructure need.  And I don't profess to 

 6          understand the accuracy of that number, but I 

 7          think all of us agree that it's a big number.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  It's enormous, 

 9          right.  Thank you.  

10                 You know, there's an issue in my 

11          district, the Town of Mina -- and I 

12          appreciate Assemblywoman Russell bringing up 

13          the fact that there are communities that by 

14          the determinations and the qualifications 

15          that are put forward by the state are 

16          excluded from participation.  And the town of 

17          Mina is one because they're trying to -- they 

18          have issues and now they're trying to set up 

19          a sewer district as we speak.  And as a 

20          result of that, they do not qualify for the 

21          program.  

22                 So I would hope that we could work 

23          together to look at some of those issues and 

24          come to a resolution.  So I just want to 


                                                                  102

 1          bring that to your attention.

 2                 And finally, I'm glad Senator Little 

 3          brought up the 480-a program.  And I believe 

 4          you said that there's some -- I know you've 

 5          been working on it, but there's some kind of 

 6          proposal that will be out soon?  

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We've 

 8          been working on a proposal.  We don't have a 

 9          bill, for example, drafted.  But we will be 

10          sitting down with and we have been sitting 

11          down with stakeholders to discuss the 480-a 

12          program writ large.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you don't 

14          anticipate it would be in the 30-day 

15          amendments?  

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  At this 

17          time I do not.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.  

19          So as a result, then, it probably wouldn't be 

20          solved until another year, at least?  

21                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, 

22          we're certainly going to look at 480-a this 

23          year.  And to the extent we can make a dent 

24          in it in 2016, we will.  But this will come 


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 1          out in the context of our discussions with 

 2          the stakeholders and the Legislature.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 4          much.

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 6          you.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Lopez.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

 9          Chairman.  And welcome, Commissioner.

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

11          you.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  I'll jump right 

13          in.  

14                 Just, if I can, in your testimony we 

15          talked about the Clean Energy Fund.  And so 

16          my quick question is, is that intended for 

17          independent power producers or ends users?  

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

19          Assemblyman, I'm going to defer, if it's okay 

20          with you, to DPS and NYSERDA to answer that.  

21          The Clean Energy Fund will be managed by 

22          them.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Okay.  I'm just to 

24          going to highlight something just for your 


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 1          purpose, in terms of a team approach.  I see 

 2          two issues.  If it is IPPs, one, we're going 

 3          to need to look at the rate of reimbursement 

 4          to the IPPs.  That's been an issue for them 

 5          for a long time.  It's prevented a number of 

 6          independent power producers from coming on 

 7          line.

 8                 And, two, if we're talking about using 

 9          renewables, we need to be more prepared for 

10          intermittent energy production.  And I would 

11          suggest to you respectfully that we need to 

12          look at energy storage.  I use the 

13          Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project 

14          in my district as an example of where the 

15          state could be beneficial as a partner.

16                 Moving on, on the climate change 

17          mitigation, just a request.  And again, as we 

18          look at resiliency -- I know we've had long 

19          conversations about that in my district --

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We have.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  -- Irene and Lee 

22          took their fair share of communities out.  I 

23          would suggest respectfully that those who 

24          have been impacted by natural disasters, 


                                                                  105

 1          whether it's Sandy, Irene, Lee, et cetera, be 

 2          given prioritization, and that projects that 

 3          have a demonstrated impact in resiliency 

 4          should find their way to a priority in the 

 5          pecking order.  I'll just leave that with 

 6          you.

 7                 Moving on to the next issue, on 

 8          environmental justice, just a quick note.  I 

 9          would hope that as we look at environmental 

10          justice we also look at rural areas and the 

11          intrusion of power lines, pipelines, gas 

12          pipelines, oil pipelines running amuck, if 

13          you would, at this point, with no rhyme or 

14          reason, through homes, businesses, families, 

15          et cetera.  

16                 So environmental justice I know is 

17          often urban, but rural areas are becoming 

18          crossroads with no rhyme or reason.

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That's a 

20          good point.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Next, on the 

22          infrastructure, I concur with my colleagues, 

23          particularly those representing rural areas.  

24          We need to conduct some sort of sensitivity 


                                                                  106

 1          analysis on ability to pay.  And the issue of 

 2          cost per household has marked impact on the 

 3          advancement of projects.  And I'll use the 

 4          hamlet of Central Bridge in my own home 

 5          community as an example.  We can talk about 

 6          that later.

 7                 I'll just move quickly and use my time 

 8          wisely here.  In terms of the issue of the 

 9          forest rangers and tourism, on page 1 of your 

10          testimony you talk about protection of the 

11          Catskills.  We've engaged with your office 

12          constructively on issues of protecting life 

13          and property in the Catskill Park.  

14          Particularly we've talked about the 

15          Kaaterskill Falls area; your team has done 

16          immeasurable good work there.  

17                 But the issue of attendance to growing 

18          tourism and threat to human safety is an 

19          issue.  I'm respectfully suggesting we look 

20          at the timber harvesting dollars and see if 

21          we're truly maximizing return on state lands 

22          and maybe see if there's a way, on a 

23          sustained basis, to increase that target 

24          number and use that for dedicated staff to 


                                                                  107

 1          protect life and property.

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We'd be 

 3          happy to do that.  I mean, I have some good 

 4          news on that front.  You may be aware in the 

 5          last two years we've actually not only 

 6          increased timber sales on state lands -- 

 7          sustainably -- 50 percent, but also increased 

 8          the revenue to $6 million, which is actually 

 9          a record for us.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  And my suggestion, 

11          respectfully, would be to look at tourism and 

12          particularly protection of life and property 

13          on forested lands in the watershed, in the 

14          park, Catskill Park, et cetera, to use some 

15          of those lands as a dedicated source, as 

16          we're doing for the waste tire recycling fee 

17          for solid waste.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We'd be 

19          happy to talk with you about that, sure.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Quickly, in terms 

21          of -- and this was not addressed, I didn't 

22          see it in your testimony, I haven't really 

23          seen it -- in the issue of solid waste, I 

24          continue to be horrified at reports within my 


                                                                  108

 1          district of going through the process and I 

 2          hate to say the facade of source separation 

 3          and recycling, only to hear that waste is 

 4          landfilled and, in worst cases, commingled 

 5          with garbage.  Very frustrating.  

 6                 And my premise would be I think we 

 7          need to look at revenues, whether it's Bottle 

 8          Bill or others, to set up funds to help 

 9          incentivize the private sector to bring 

10          recycling businesses online rather than look 

11          at them as anomalies.  So I guess I would 

12          encourage your office -- and we're happy to 

13          be part of this -- to look at ways of 

14          mainstreaming recycling businesses as 

15          sustainable economically and look at what 

16          potentials there are.  Again, it's very 

17          frustrating in that regard.  

18                 So my time is done, and thank you.

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

20          you.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Next, 

22          Senator Tom O'Mara.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, Senator.  

24                 Commissioner, to follow up on some of 


                                                                  109

 1          the comments made by some of my colleagues 

 2          and yourself in follow-up to their questions, 

 3          I just want to reiterate my concerns on 

 4          invasive species and the eradication 

 5          efforts that have been talked about, 

 6          particularly in getting aid to localities and 

 7          to lake owners associations to help with 

 8          really the annual maintenance efforts that 

 9          take place to deal with things such as the 

10          Eurasian milfoil that may be a more common -- 

11          it's been around longer than the other 

12          hot-button issues of hydrilla or the emerald 

13          ash borer and things of the like.  But those 

14          are still critically important to the 

15          viability of our freshwater lakes and the 

16          recreational uses of those, in conjunction 

17          with the water quality.  So I want to make 

18          sure that we have efforts going in that way.  

19                 And I appreciate Senator Young having 

20          brought up the e-waste issue, because that 

21          was an issue that I wanted to get to.  And I 

22          have a recycler in my district that has 

23          particular concerns over the CRTs and the 

24          lack of reimbursement, to the point where he 


                                                                  110

 1          has to stop taking them at this point because 

 2          he can't afford to do it without those.

 3                 So we really need some greater 

 4          attention put to that, and I look forward to 

 5          working with you and the department on a 

 6          resolution to that.  And, if possible, to do 

 7          something for the 30-day amendments in that 

 8          regard I think would be very helpful to get 

 9          that ball rolling.

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's a 

11          good idea.  Thank you.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  On an issue, the Lake 

13          Ontario Water Level Plan 2014, what is the 

14          department's role in that ongoing process 

15          right now?  To change the lake levels in Lake 

16          Ontario will benefit certain parts of the 

17          river, primarily, with some alleged marginal 

18          improvement to our wetlands that surround the 

19          lake, but at grave risk to Lake Ontario 

20          shoreline property owners.  

21                 And when we talk about the waterfront 

22          improvement money that we have in the budget 

23          here of $15 million, that's very small in 

24          comparison to the figures that I've seen on 


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 1          the potential consequences and devastation to 

 2          the shoreline of Lake Ontario should that 

 3          plan be put into effect.  

 4                 So I don't know if you can share your 

 5          thoughts on that, or where the Governor is on 

 6          this Plan 2014, because it's something that's 

 7          been kicking around again for a long time.  

 8          And I know it's a federal issue more than it 

 9          is a state issue, but I think they will be 

10          looking to either the Governor or the 

11          department on what the thoughts are on that.

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, 

13          you're right, it is a federal issue.  It's an 

14          international joint commission, which is 

15          Canada and the U.S., and our State Department 

16          is running most of the preliminary work on 

17          it.  

18                 We are in regular contact with the 

19          State Department to assess their review of 

20          the plan.  To my knowledge, it has not yet 

21          advanced, in any meaningful way, out for 

22          consideration.  So we're certainly waiting to 

23          see what the State Department's take is on it 

24          and whether or not the federal government 


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 1          would be proposing any federal dollars to 

 2          support the effort.  

 3                 I also hear the same concerns that you 

 4          do about potential erosion on the lake, 

 5          accelerated by some slight increases to the 

 6          water levels.  I also hear about the benefits 

 7          as well.  I mean, I am partly conflicted in 

 8          this, as I have a piece of family property on 

 9          the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River.  

10                 So my personal feelings aside about 

11          it, the Governor has not yet made any 

12          decisions on this.  We're certainly assessing 

13          the plan, as it has changed considerably over 

14          the last four years.  There was originally a 

15          1958 decision which became a 2012 

16          modification; now it's Plan 2014.  So it's 

17          sort of changed over time.  And assuming that 

18          it doesn't change any further, we will give 

19          it a very hard look when it comes to us.  And 

20          if indeed it goes forward from the federal 

21          government's perspective, we would look to 

22          ensure that there are no losers on this and 

23          that there are only winners as far as erosion 

24          concerns are concerned.


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 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  Thank you.  

 2                 And just to wrap up on some of the 

 3          forestry issues here, you know, we have a lot 

 4          of forestry land that's state controlled, but 

 5          it's my understanding that about 75 percent 

 6          of New York's forests are privately owned.  

 7          How is the carbon mitigation and adaptation 

 8          accounting for assisting these forests, the 

 9          privately owned ones as well as the state 

10          ones?  Given the critical role that forests 

11          play in carbon mitigation and the importance 

12          of them in the whole cycle, what if anything 

13          is being devoted in the EPF currently that's 

14          detailed?  Or do you see a role of the EPF 

15          playing in this to assist the maintenance of 

16          our forested lands?  

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, 

18          Senator, I would agree that our forests, the 

19          sequestration of carbon in our forests is 

20          going to be a major component of how the 

21          state responds to climate change over the 

22          long term.  Part of that's going to mean we 

23          need to have healthy forests.  So healthy 

24          forests are in some ways managed; sometimes 


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 1          they're protected.  

 2                 We have -- on the management side, 

 3          we've been doing a better job of managing our 

 4          forests and cutting stands that are -- in a 

 5          sustainable way.

 6                 On the acquisition side -- not private 

 7          property, but on the public acquisition 

 8          side -- we're setting aside more forests for 

 9          the long term to serve as those sinks, those 

10          carbon sinks.  

11                 We need to do a better job in helping 

12          private land owners in managing their forests 

13          as well.  There's a place for it.  We've 

14          certainly talked about it.  We need to find a 

15          way forward for that, and we need to do so in 

16          a way that helps communities at the same 

17          time.  And taxpayers.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Finally, and I'm out 

19          of time, on the environmental justice grants, 

20          could we expect to see some more detail in 

21          the 30-day amendments on exactly how that's 

22          going to be spent?  And I would like some 

23          more detail on what exactly your thought 

24          process is on the citizen testing component 


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 1          of the air-quality monitoring and how that 

 2          would work.  Do we expect more detail on 

 3          these coming with the 30-day amendments?

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We can 

 5          certainly provide more details to you on both 

 6          those fronts.  And I'll have to get back to 

 7          you whether or not it's going to be within 

 8          the 30-day amendments or otherwise.

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

11          you.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

14                 Assemblyman Otis.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Hello, 

16          Commissioner.  Thank you for being here.  

17                 I want to thank you; the popularity of 

18          the water grant program is further reinforced 

19          by the fact that you got so many positive 

20          comments about it today.  And I want to hit a 

21          different focus on it, but first compliment 

22          you and the Governor and EFC for how 

23          successful the rollout was to the program 

24          and, though people may not generally be 


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 1          aware, all the effort that went into having 

 2          that be a successful start-up.  And the fact 

 3          that you added the $25 million in federal 

 4          funding, so the real number right now, with 

 5          the Governor's proposal, is actually $325 

 6          million, the plan for what is going to be 

 7          spent.  

 8                 And so the question is, there is a -- 

 9          well, I want to suggest another metric for 

10          looking at the case for more -- the need for 

11          more money on an urgent basis for this 

12          program, which is communities around the 

13          state that are either under a consent decree 

14          or other kind of DEC or EPA enforcement 

15          action -- some of them may never ripen to a 

16          consent decree, but they're enforcement 

17          actions nonetheless -- and to see if we can 

18          try and together look at that as a way of 

19          looking at how urgent the need is and making 

20          the case for trying to drive more money to 

21          the program.

22                 A lot of communities around the state 

23          did -- we had, I understand, $800 million 

24          worth of applications for the first $50 


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 1          million.  And many communities did not apply 

 2          because you have to do a certain amount of 

 3          the engineering first.  So there are going to 

 4          be new applications in the 2016 round.  But 

 5          what can -- EFC would not necessarily have 

 6          the full list of municipalities that are 

 7          under enforcement actions, because if they 

 8          don't apply, EFC doesn't really know about 

 9          it.  DEC may.  But I would suggest, not for 

10          an answer today, but as another way of trying 

11          to get a number of what and how 

12          time-sensitive the need is.  

13                 I would also add one other thing.  One 

14          component part of this that is so valuable is 

15          the fact that it's a grant and not a loan.  

16          And so one of the things that we saw was that 

17          communities that had not applied for 

18          revolving loan funds before now are making 

19          contact with EFC.  And so maybe you can talk 

20          to some of those issues.  And this is a 

21          program we need.  

22                 But again, compliments to everybody 

23          for a successful rollout.  That doesn't 

24          always happen; it did in this case.


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 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 2          you.  

 3                 I can tell you that, just to clarify, 

 4          the demand on the grant program in Round 1 

 5          was $250 million, not 800.  So between 

 6          drinking water and wastewater, that was the 

 7          total.  

 8                 On to the success of the program.  I 

 9          mean it was obviously very well received.  We 

10          rolled it out quickly.  We knew it would be 

11          subscribed and we'd be able to move those 

12          funds.  EFC does have good visibility into 

13          the consent orders out there.  We have a 

14          decent list at DEC.  We share it regularly 

15          with EFC.  Part of EFC's scoring, in fact, is 

16          and always has been partly related to whether 

17          or not a municipality is under a consent 

18          order.  So if there is a consent order in 

19          place, in fact they've got at least a point 

20          towards their ability to get wastewater or 

21          drinking water funding.  

22                 But we will continue to look at, you 

23          know, how to merge the two so we can start 

24          solving some of these problems on a more 


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 1          regular basis.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  The larger number I 

 3          was talking about was not necessarily what 

 4          they applied for for the grant money, but the 

 5          dollar value of the projects they need to do 

 6          those projects.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.  

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  But it's just a 

 9          great start, and so thank you.

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

11          you.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank the Governor 

13          for his support of an additional hundred 

14          million.  And I think we want to try to work 

15          together for more.

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

17          you.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  A second question.  

19          The Governor is proposing a nice increase for 

20          the Municipal Recycling Grant Program.  And 

21          in the Assembly, we're doing a survey to try 

22          and get a handle on what I would call 

23          hard-to-recycle items.  Some of that is 

24          electronic waste, which you commented on 


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 1          previously.  But it's almost a doubling of 

 2          the amount to that grant program.  

 3                 Does DEC have ideas on how to maybe 

 4          better target that money so that it has an 

 5          impact on trying to expand what -- in some 

 6          parts of the state they're not accepting 

 7          everything that others are.  We try to expand 

 8          what people include and what they're willing 

 9          to take in for recycling, but they need 

10          resources to arm up for that.

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  

12          Well, the EPF has for many years funded 

13          recycling.  There's a significant backlog 

14          still.  I believe that this year the backlog 

15          is 60 -- yeah, $60 million.  Thank you, 

16          Julie.  

17                 So last year we had a $7.5 million 

18          line.  This year we're going to bump that up 

19          to 14.  So our goal right now is to begin 

20          eliminating some of that significant backlog.  

21          It's going to take a few years to happen.  At 

22          the same time, while we're pushing these 

23          grants out, we will be talking -- I mean, our 

24          programs do talk regularly statewide about, 


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 1          you know, recycling zero waste, getting to 

 2          the point where communities can become more 

 3          sustainable.  

 4                 One of the problems right now, 

 5          frankly, on recycling is just the 

 6          commodities markets are not in good shape.  

 7          So we're going to do what we can to push 

 8          funding out the door for municipalities to do 

 9          recycling.  We certainly will always look to 

10          help foster markets where we can.  But the 

11          commodities markets, since it's sort of an 

12          international issue right now that, you know, 

13          peaks and troughs, it makes it difficult when 

14          we hit a trough.  And that's what we're 

15          heading towards.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you on all 

17          fronts.

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you, 

19          Assemblyman.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you.  Thank 

21          the Governor.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator?  

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

24                 Senator Brad Hoylman.


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 1                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you, Senator 

 2          Krueger.  

 3                 Nice to see you again.  A question for 

 4          you, not about deer, but about DERA, the 

 5          Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.  You know, it 

 6          was signed into law 10 years ago to reduce 

 7          emissions of fine particulate matter from 

 8          diesel exhaust from heavy-duty vehicles.  The 

 9          goal was to require the state fleet and 

10          contractors to be entirely retrofitted with 

11          filters by 2010.  We've moved that goalpost 

12          five times.  Extensions in the last four 

13          budgets have resulted in that.  

14                 It's of concern to me because in my 

15          district on the west side of Manhattan we 

16          have a tremendous amount of construction 

17          occurring.  We have the Hudson Yards, a 

18          completely new city, virtually; we have plans 

19          for the new Port Authority Bus Terminal; the 

20          Governor's exciting announcement on Moynihan 

21          Station and the renovation of Penn Station; 

22          the Gateway Tunnel project; and everything 

23          else that comes with a robust real estate 

24          market.


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 1                 So I'm concerned about diesel exhaust 

 2          in that neighborhood.  And given your renewed 

 3          emphasis on environmental justice, I would 

 4          assume that that ties into the reduction of 

 5          fine particulate matter, which is linked 

 6          directly to asthma, particularly in 

 7          disadvantaged communities.

 8                 Do you foresee another delay in DERA?  

 9          I know the Governor hasn't proposed it, and I 

10          thank you for that.  What would be your 

11          position headed into this budget position?

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

13          would rather not speculate on what might be 

14          coming on that.  

15                 What I can tell you on DERA is that 

16          the state has made significant strides.  For 

17          the agencies that are reporting compliance 

18          with DERA, while not a hundred percent, are 

19          at a fairly impressive 82 percent right now.

20                 Partly it's since the law has passed, 

21          time has passed, and there's been wear and 

22          tear on old machines.  And there's turnover 

23          now, and the turnover thankfully favors 

24          cleaner vehicles.


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 1                 So, you know, DERA is obviously an 

 2          important law, but our compliance now, and 

 3          the market having shifted over the years, has 

 4          made it, you know, perhaps less of an urgent 

 5          matter because we will continue to turn our 

 6          fleets over over time.

 7                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Do we have an 

 8          accounting of that?  Do you know what 

 9          percentage of the state fleet is compliant?

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I can get 

11          you the accounting.  I know that the number, 

12          the high number, is 82 percent as a total.  

13          But I can get you the accounting on how the 

14          whole state breaks out.

15                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you.  

16                 And in the program book it states that 

17          the administration will work with the 

18          Legislature to adopt the Child-Safe Products 

19          Act.  You know that's been an issue of 

20          concern among a number of my colleagues, 

21          including me.  And the problem with toxins 

22          and toys is obviously something that needs to 

23          be addressed.  

24                 Can you explain what you mean by 


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 1          working with the Legislature and what you 

 2          foresee?  

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

 4          think the Governor recognizes that toxic toys 

 5          as an issue needs to be addressed.  

 6                 We last year worked very closely with 

 7          both the Senate and the Assembly on different 

 8          bills, tried to find common ground on that, 

 9          and will do so again this year.  There may 

10          well be a role for DEC, there may be a role 

11          for other agencies as well.  Given that it's 

12          a gubernatorial priority, we will again 

13          invest our efforts to see if we can get it 

14          across the finish line.

15                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Could it be a 

16          program bill?

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think 

18          at this point, I mean, given that there are 

19          two bills out there, at least, from last 

20          year, I'm not sure we'll introduce a program 

21          bill on it.  And try to work perhaps off 

22          what's already existing.

23                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you very much.

24                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 


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 1          you.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Next is Assemblyman 

 4          Ortiz.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you, 

 6          Mr. Chairman.  Good morning, Commissioner.  

 7          It's still good morning.

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good 

 9          morning still.  You never know around here, 

10          though.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Yesterday was a 

12          long day, so.  

13                 I represent the areas of Sunset Park 

14          and Red Hook in Brooklyn.  We have what we 

15          call the BQE.  The BQE comes from Staten 

16          Island all the way down to the Battery 

17          Tunnel.  Both sides, Manhattan and Staten 

18          Island, they enjoy the toll, but I get the 

19          emissions that is coming out of all the 

20          vehicles.  So we get all the asthma rates, 

21          the high asthma rates in my community.  

22                 One of the things that I would like to 

23          request from you is if it's doable and 

24          possible to ask your agency to do a study to 


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 1          address the issue of emissions and carbon 

 2          monoxide that is coming out of so many 

 3          vehicles that use the BQE.  

 4                 As you probably know, most of the time 

 5          if you put on 1010 WINS at 6 a.m. in the 

 6          morning, the first thing I do is to check to 

 7          see whether or not I can take the BQE.  And 

 8          believe me, you cannot take the BQE.  You 

 9          have to go to Fourth Avenue, you have to jump 

10          Third Avenue.  And as a result of that -- we 

11          do have, next to the BQE, we have around 

12          seven schools adjacent to the BQE.  And, you 

13          know, that's creating a very -- a health 

14          issue to our community in Sunset Park -- and 

15          Sunset Park is an underserved community, it's 

16          a minority community -- with adverse impact 

17          to Red Hook as well.

18                 And the second issue is the 

19          brownfields.  As you know, Sunset Park, 

20          Red Hook, as well as the Gowanus Canal, money 

21          has been allocated to begin to remove some of 

22          the brownfields, but money has been 

23          shortchanged.  Is it possible that you can 

24          tell us how many brownfield sites have 


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 1          received a certificate of completion at this 

 2          point?  

 3                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I don't 

 4          have those numbers on hand, Assemblyman, but 

 5          I certainly can get those to you.  I know we 

 6          have a lot of activity down in Brooklyn along 

 7          the waterfront, and brownfields.  Also the 

 8          Brownfields Opportunity Area Program, which 

 9          is administered by the Department of State 

10          and our State Superfund.  

11                 The toxic legacy of the New York 

12          waterfront certainly presents many 

13          challenges.  But I can get you the full 

14          details, we'll get you a spreadsheet on that, 

15          surely.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you.  And 

17          regarding also the funding that is going to 

18          groups.  You know, it will be kind if the 

19          agency will be able to let the members know 

20          when that fund is coming available to the 

21          groups.  Most of the time we are finding that 

22          this brownfields allocation funding has been 

23          granted through the newspaper, or through a 

24          press release.  


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 1                 And sometimes the organization calls 

 2          up on us -- and I'll give you the name of the 

 3          organization.  UPROSE, for example, who does 

 4          a lot of environmental work.  And not only do 

 5          they do a lot of environmental work, but they 

 6          include the middle school students and high 

 7          school students.  So they are the pioneers 

 8          and the visionaries of the environment, 

 9          trying to educate them to take over.  

10                 And then we find out that some of the 

11          group that we thought had been funded, they 

12          are not being funded.  And they've been doing 

13          a lot of great jobs in our community.  

14                 So for the future I would recommend 

15          that, before a beautiful press release goes 

16          out, that the agency will be kind enough to 

17          let the members know.  You know, we all work 

18          together to make sure that we can secure -- 

19          our chairman works very diligently to make 

20          sure that, together with the speaker and the 

21          members, that this money be allocated to 

22          communities such as the ones that we 

23          represent.

24                 And the last question I would like to 


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 1          ask you quickly is regarding the -- if you 

 2          comment, I don't know if you will be able to 

 3          comment, but to comment on the department 

 4          position on the use of carbon tax as a means 

 5          of addressing encouraging renewable energy 

 6          sources and discouraging the use of 

 7          nonrenewables like fossil fuels as a means of 

 8          reducing carbon emissions.  And that is an 

 9          Assembly bill that I have, so. 

10                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.  

11          Did you say carbon tax?  

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Yeah.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.  

14          Well, certainly carbon taxes are used in many 

15          jurisdictions in Europe and elsewhere.  We're 

16          always looking at the best way to control 

17          carbon.  We explore all the various 

18          approaches we have.  And I'll let my energy 

19          colleagues talk about how to manage carbon 

20          most effectively.  

21                 I mean, our approach has been to try 

22          to do this through the marketplace and 

23          through mandates.  But there's a discussion 

24          to be had about the carbon tax, it will 


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 1          happen, it has happened, and we will be part 

 2          of that discussion.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Well, I hope that 

 4          you can include it.  And the last question -- 

 5          that was my last question.  But everybody was 

 6          mentioning about the water system.  And I 

 7          just have a quick question about what you 

 8          have learned from Flint and what mechanism 

 9          are you planning to begin to implement to 

10          ensure that our water quality continues to be 

11          the best of the best in New York State?  

12                 And thank you.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

14          tell you, what's happening in Flint is a 

15          horror story playing out at a national level 

16          in the most unimaginable way.  And my heart 

17          goes out to the victims of Flint.  

18                 We've been privy, unfortunately, to 

19          seeing government dysfunction leading much of 

20          the problem in Flint.  I'm happy to report 

21          that we don't have government dysfunction 

22          here in New York.  That certainly starts with 

23          the Governor.  The Governor has set dramatic 

24          expectations for state agencies to work as 


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 1          one.  This is one government.  At the state 

 2          level, there's no distinction as far as the 

 3          public is concerned between a DOH and a DEC 

 4          or Parks or any other agency.  And frankly, 

 5          there's no distinction between the state 

 6          agencies and federal agencies and local 

 7          agencies.  We all have to work as one.  

 8                 And we're trying hard to do so.  The 

 9          public's trust in government has to be 

10          earned.  We're working hard to earn that 

11          trust, and we are being as responsive as we 

12          can to understand problems across the state, 

13          not just with drinking water, but with air 

14          quality and many other problems that beset 

15          the population.  

16                 So it's a priority of mine, a priority 

17          of mine to be responsive, a priority of mine 

18          to think ahead and get ahead of problems.  

19          I'm going to do that as acting commissioner 

20          as long as I'm acting commissioner.  And I 

21          know my colleagues in government are going to 

22          have the same approach to these problems.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you, 

24          Commissioner.  


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 1                 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you, 

 3          Assemblyman.

 4                 Next, Assemblywoman Fahy.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you, 

 6          Mr. Chairman.  

 7                 Welcome.  Thank you.  I have a couple 

 8          of questions, but just a few comments.  And I 

 9          want to start with I really commend the 

10          Governor, commend you on the work on climate 

11          change.  It's been incredibly encouraging.  I 

12          too was at Columbia for the announcement, and 

13          look for more.  

14                 I also appreciate your comments on 

15          workforce, because not only is it good for 

16          the environment, but I do believe it will 

17          truly, truly help our workforce.  And the 

18          sooner we can train more workers and the more 

19          we can train, the better it is as well for -- 

20          particularly for those less-skilled and 

21          more-at-risk youth.  These are good jobs that 

22          can't be exported.  So I look forward to 

23          seeing more of the work on the environment 

24          and on energy with climate change.


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 1                 EPF funding, the best news that I had 

 2          had earlier this year.  Very encouraging.  

 3          And I want to just echo --

 4                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  You too.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Yes, thank you.  

 6                 -- the comments on the air monitoring.  

 7          That's very important, particularly here.  As 

 8          you know, the oil trains are a big issue.  

 9          And I would like to follow up with you when 

10          my time is not so short on the Oil Spill 

11          Fund.  But the air quality monitoring is of 

12          critical importance.  

13                 Brownfields remediation, I also want 

14          to note that, because it's critical to 

15          economic development.  

16                 The water infrastructure, wastewater, 

17          I want to echo the comments of many today, 

18          particularly of Member Otis.  And I too have 

19          seen the $36 billion figure.  It's great that 

20          the Governor has added to the money that we 

21          put in last year, but clearly the demand is 

22          out there.  And of course because of the 

23          horrific news out of Flint, water has gotten 

24          renewed attention.  And the mayor of Troy was 


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 1          here the other day testifying that some of 

 2          the pipes in the city there date back to 

 3          1860 -- and by the way, that was not the one 

 4          that burst -- 1860.  So we know our 

 5          infrastructure needs a lot of work.

 6                 Two questions.  Staffing; I know we've 

 7          talked a little bit about that today.  It 

 8          does remain a concern because it comes up on 

 9          a number of issues.  Can you talk a little 

10          bit more about how you are addressing the 

11          staffing needs and some of the delays that 

12          we've heard on a few issues?  And 

13          particularly can you -- I understand there 

14          was a staffing shift to a rehabilitation and 

15          improvement group, or a staffing increase of 

16          over a hundred staff into rehabilitation and 

17          improvement.  Can you explain what the shift 

18          is?  

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay, 

20          certainly.  I can start at least with 

21          staffing needs.  

22                 I mean, I approach staffing needs 

23          through one primary prism:  Are we protecting 

24          the environment of New York State?  And I 


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 1          have to look at what the indicators are 

 2          telling me, what the vital signs are telling 

 3          me -- what's our air look like, what's our 

 4          water look like.  And I'm heartened by the 

 5          improvements we've made on both those fronts.  

 6          I mean, it's really due to our collective 

 7          efforts that water and air are improving.  

 8                 So I can tell you that we're meeting 

 9          our mission right now, we're doing a lot, 

10          we've got incredibly dedicated staff that 

11          really move heaven and earth.  You should 

12          have seen them last weekend with the 

13          snowstorm in Long Island -- it wasn't just 

14          ECOs and rangers, it was people in Albany and 

15          across the state who were pitching in.  

16                 So we're meeting the mission of 

17          protecting New York State's environment and 

18          its people.  I can transfer you over to Jeff, 

19          perhaps who can answer the question on the 

20          shift.  Do you have an answer on that, Jeff?

21                 ASST. COMMISSIONER STEFANKO:  Yeah.  

22          Basically it's moving staff to capital staff 

23          who are performing capital functions to 

24          capital funds.  It's a technical change.  


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 1          It's not an increase in staff.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  It's just a 

 3          technical change, then, not a programmatic 

 4          shift in terms of --

 5                 ASST. COMMISSIONER STEFANKO:  No, 

 6          they're continuing the same functions they've 

 7          been doing.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Same functions.  

 9          Okay.  All right.  It was one that came up.

10                 Second and last question, the 

11          pipelines.  Again, you heard questions on a 

12          number of pipelines.  The one that most 

13          impacts the 109th District here is the 

14          Northeast Pipeline, or the Kinder Morgan.  

15                 There are a number of concerns, 

16          although we're also impacted by the Thruway 

17          pipeline proposed there.  Can you just talk a 

18          little bit about -- it is of concern.  We've 

19          written about this.  I know when time isn't 

20          this short, we'll follow up.  But health and 

21          safety, how you plan to prioritize what some 

22          of the review process is for for reviewing 

23          this.  And I say that as somebody who is very 

24          seriously concerned.


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 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 2          Understood.  The Northeast Energy direct 

 3          proposed pipeline, you know, that -- it's a 

 4          FERC pipeline, but it came to us in 

 5          application.  We sent the application back 

 6          because it was incomplete, and that's 

 7          certainly an application process that is 

 8          going to -- it will play out over time.

 9                 On the Pilgrim Pipeline -- that's the 

10          Pilgrim Pipeline you asked about -- this is 

11          the proposed pipeline on the Thruway 

12          Authority corridor running north-south.  We 

13          have requested and been given -- or proposed, 

14          at least, DEC and Thruway Authority joint 

15          review, SEQR status, lead agency status on 

16          this.  

17                 The SEQR process will play out on it.  

18          We will have both agencies working in -- we 

19          propose to have both agencies working in 

20          concert to ensure that the public's safety is 

21          protected, to ensure the environment is 

22          protected, as we do on every SEQR review.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you, 

24          Commissioner.  And again, that will be of 


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 1          paramount importance to us.

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 3          you.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.  

 5                 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 7                 Assemblywoman Woerner.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you, 

 9          Mr. Chairman.  Thank you.  

10                 I want to reflect on staffing levels 

11          and enforcement.  And I make note of the fact 

12          that your staffing levels have dropped 

13          significantly over, say, the last 15 years.  

14          And reflecting on two things, your comments 

15          about this being one government and to 

16          everybody in the world, it's not separate 

17          agencies, it's one government.  And also on 

18          the Governor's initiative to encourage 

19          municipalities to have shared services.  

20                 And I'm wondering if you have given 

21          some thought with your peers to consolidating 

22          in-field regulatory reviews.  So, for 

23          example, farms are regulated by DEC, DOL, DOH 

24          and Ag and Markets.  And it certainly would 


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 1          streamline things for the farmer -- and I 

 2          imagine it would streamline resources for 

 3          state -- if a field inspector from any given 

 4          agency could serve the purpose of collecting 

 5          data and reporting for all agencies that 

 6          regulate that particular business.  

 7                 Could you comment on that?

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

 9          will say, Assemblywoman, that my good friends 

10          Pat Hooker and Commissioner Ball, we talk 

11          quite a bit about how to streamline 

12          inspections.  There is quite a bit of 

13          overlap.  The idea of sharing each other's 

14          services is something that the Governor has 

15          always encouraged of us to think, you know, 

16          outside the box and think, you know, 

17          creatively about how to get the job done.  

18          And we are willing to do that across the 

19          board.  

20                 And we actually have a number of Lean 

21          projects underway at DEC, 17 total, that can 

22          help us explore some of those.  So certainly 

23          on permitting and inspections, that's going 

24          to be one of my focuses, is in just making us 


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 1          more nimble.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Fantastic.  I 

 3          applaud you for that and encourage you and 

 4          certainly would look forward to hearing more 

 5          about that.

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 7          you.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Also thinking 

 9          about technology as a way to automate the 

10          collection of data, and particularly thinking 

11          about things like runoff and rainwater counts 

12          and that sort of thing, I think technology 

13          can be our friend here in helping to 

14          streamline the inspection and enforcement 

15          process.

16                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Agreed.  

17          Thank you.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you.  

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Are you finished?

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Yes.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes, thank you.  

22                 Assemblywoman Hooper.  

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  Thank you, 

24          Mr. Chairman.  


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 1                 Thank you, Commissioner.

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 3          Assemblywoman.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  I will be 

 5          brief.  I represent a community in Freeport, 

 6          Long Island, wherein is located a state 

 7          armory that has been vacated.  It is located 

 8          in a community about 36 inches from a 

 9          residential area where families have lived 

10          there for several years, and also located on 

11          a sensitive nature preserve where endangered 

12          species flourish.  To place a public works 

13          department and a waste transfer station in 

14          this area would require maintenance of large 

15          equipment, cleaning, and the runoff of 

16          contaminated waste into this very sensitive 

17          area.  

18                 Strangely, the only element that 

19          proposes placing this site in this community, 

20          no one of this element resides in that 

21          community.  And the community is peopled 

22          100 percent by minorities. 

23                 My question to you and my request to 

24          you is, how would you protect and address 


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 1          this potential destruction of such a pristine 

 2          and vulnerable environmentally challenged 

 3          site, especially when FEMA has already 

 4          provided $17 million to mitigate the former 

 5          DPW site, which was compromised by Storm 

 6          Sandy?

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, 

 8          Assemblywoman, thank you for bringing this to 

 9          my attention.  I'm not aware of this site.  

10          I'd be happy, with my regional team and my 

11          exec team, to discuss it with you.  From a 

12          solid waste/wastewater perspective, 

13          environmental justice concerns, we have the 

14          team ready to better understand the concerns 

15          that are being presented.  

16                 So let's schedule something, if we 

17          can.  And if you'd get in touch with me 

18          through Julie, I'd love to do that.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  Thank you 

20          kindly.  We shall definitely reach out to you 

21          because we don't want to lose any more 

22          pristine, sensitive natural preserves.  Thank 

23          you so very much.

24                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 


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 1          you.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 3                 Assemblyman Kaminsky.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  It's almost 

 5          good afternoon, Commissioner.  

 6                 I'd like to talk to you about the 

 7          Bay Park outfall pipe.

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  Last year I had 

10          a similar exchange with your predecessor, and 

11          there was, you know, some back and forth 

12          about trying to get federal resources for it.  

13          And here we are a year later, and I'd like to 

14          know if we're any closer to achieving the 

15          necessary funding and the wherewithal to have 

16          an outfall pipe and what the general plan is, 

17          as you see it, to get from start to finish to 

18          make that very important project a reality.

19                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

20          Assemblyman, I can echo what may have been 

21          said last year:  We remain committed to 

22          getting the Bay Park outfall pipe 

23          constructed.  I think we're closer than ever 

24          at this point.  We have $150 million of state 


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 1          commitments on the table, in addition to 

 2          $41 million of EFC financing lined up.  We're 

 3          negotiating a consent order with the county 

 4          at this point which will establish their 

 5          obligations to comply with water quality 

 6          standards and to comply with the 

 7          reconstruction of their plant and this pipe.  

 8                 We have turned over every rug, looked 

 9          under every rug for money.  We have 

10          $5 million in this year's budget to help with 

11          the construction of the pipe.  And I can say 

12          that we're very close to it at this point.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  What is the 

14          county's position, as you see it, vis-a-vis 

15          the consent order?  How have they approached 

16          it?

17                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

18          know the county wants to get this done also.  

19          And to their credit, they have committed to 

20          install interim nitrogen removal at the plant 

21          this year, they've made that public.  And the 

22          two projects that they're proposed will go a 

23          long way to reducing nitrogen that's produced 

24          by the plant.  


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 1                 So we're at the table.  I can't 

 2          characterize, you know, the tenor of the 

 3          discussions other than to say that we have a 

 4          very good dialog going on and I know that 

 5          they want to get to where we want to get 

 6          also.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  Has there been 

 8          any consideration of sending some Suffolk 

 9          sewage to Nassau plants that have the 

10          capacity and using New York money that's 

11          supposed to go for Suffolk sewage to then be 

12          used toward the project?  Is that an idea 

13          that's been considered?  

14                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  County 

15          Executive Mangano actually mentioned that to 

16          me a few days ago when I saw him down on 

17          Long Island.  We're certainly always willing 

18          to entertain any creative solutions like 

19          that.  I mean, that would be a discussion 

20          that the two county executives need to have 

21          together and figure out if there's a path 

22          forward there.  And we'd like to be 

23          supportive, if we can.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  Okay.  And can 


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 1          you answer why no surplus money, state 

 2          surplus money has been dedicated toward the 

 3          outfall pipe?  What thinking or discussion 

 4          might have gone into that.

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

 6          can say that the EPF increase this year, $123 

 7          million worth, is funded through the state 

 8          surplus that we have.  So we've, as I 

 9          mentioned, programmed $5 million of that to 

10          go towards the outfall pipe.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  Right.  I guess 

12          this is an appropriate pun, but that's kind 

13          of like spit in the ocean in a $500 million 

14          project.  

15                 In other words, if this thing is going 

16          to happen, who do you see having to step up, 

17          in the absence of, I guess, the state wanting 

18          to say, This is going to be our project, 

19          which it looks like is what we're looking at.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, 

21          bear in mind we have almost a billion dollars 

22          of state and federal money that we've 

23          directed to the plant to make sure that it 

24          both had been rebuilt after Sandy and, now 


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 1          that we've committed, to make sure the 

 2          Bay Park outfall actually happens.  

 3                 The additional $41 million of EFC 

 4          financing and the $5 million this year that 

 5          we're going to award through settlement funds 

 6          in the EPF demonstrates a substantial 

 7          commitment from the state to make sure it 

 8          happens.  We're going to find a way to get 

 9          there.  The county's going to have to step up 

10          and help find the balance.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  Okay.  And you 

12          agree that this is a vital project?

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would  

14          agree that this is the vital project on 

15          Long Island for water.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  I appreciate 

17          that.  

18                 And lastly, where I live down in the 

19          barrier island of Long Beach Island, the 

20          Army Corps project that you will oversee or 

21          do oversee is of critical importance.  We 

22          realized just before the storm the other day 

23          that we're not really in much of a different 

24          position than we were the day after Sandy 


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 1          happened.  And I just want to get your take 

 2          as to whether that is still on track and is 

 3          still something that you think will come to 

 4          fruition on target.

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, the 

 6          good news is that we finally reached the 

 7          agreement with the Army Corps this year -- in 

 8          fact, just a few weeks ago.  And I expect 

 9          that we will be putting out to bid the work 

10          that needs to be done, and the construction 

11          will start this year.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  That's great.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  If not 

14          earlier.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  Okay, I look 

16          forward to working with you on that, and I've 

17          asked your agency to put on a presentation 

18          for the people in the barrier island who I 

19          think after Sandy have reconciled themselves 

20          to the fact that the nature of our beach must 

21          change.  But obviously the more information 

22          they can get would be the better.  

23                 So I would really welcome that, and 

24          thank you for your cooperation on this really 


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 1          vital project.

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 3          you.  I look forward to working with you on 

 4          this.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAMINSKY:  Thanks.

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thanks.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 8                 Assemblyman Abinanti.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Thank you, 

10          Mr. Chairman.  Welcome.  Thank you for 

11          joining us today.

12                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

13          you.  Thank you.  

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  I have a couple 

15          of topics that have been touched on but I'd 

16          like to pursue a little bit further.  

17                 One of them is DERA.  I know that 

18          Senator Hoylman has discussed it with you, 

19          and your response was that most of the state 

20          vehicles are now at a point where they would 

21          meet the standard.  But my understanding is 

22          that this law would also impose certain 

23          obligations on private contractors who do 

24          business with the state; correct?


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 1                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That's 

 2          right.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  So that's a 

 4          piece that we're missing right now.  Do we 

 5          know what percentage of the contractors who 

 6          do business with the state meet the DERA 

 7          requirements?

 8                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think 

 9          it's considerably lower.  And I can get you 

10          the exact numbers, but I believe it's 

11          considerably lower.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  I think that's 

13          an important piece because the logic of this 

14          is that once you get contractors to upgrade 

15          their equipment to deal with the state, 

16          they're not going to take that upgrade off 

17          when they're doing private work.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

19          Understood.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  So we're kind 

21          of raising the bar for the entire industry.

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  And I know that 

24          downstate, Westchester County, we did it.  I 


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 1          think New York City's done it.  And I'm not 

 2          sure, but I think both Nassau and Suffolk 

 3          have done it.  So they've upgraded all of 

 4          their own equipment and also have required 

 5          those who do business with them to upgrade 

 6          the equipment.  But downstate, we can't do it 

 7          alone.  I mean, air pollution travels 

 8          everywhere, and so we really need everybody 

 9          to jump in on this.

10                 And I think the wisdom of those who 

11          passed this law long before I got here is 

12          becoming more evident every day.  So I 

13          compliment your department's concern about 

14          climate change and polluted air, but I do 

15          hope that we could work together this year to 

16          make sure that what should have happened in 

17          2010 actually happens this year.

18                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay, 

19          understood.  Thank you.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  The second 

21          issue is a little bit more local, but it is a 

22          statewide problem, and that is stormwater 

23          flooding.  I know throughout the entire state 

24          I hear from my colleagues that their 


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 1          communities are underwater after a storm.  In 

 2          Westchester County we have some very 

 3          significant problems.  I just want to talk 

 4          about my district, which is symbolic of 

 5          what's going on throughout all of 

 6          Westchester.  

 7                 We have the Sawmill River, and we've 

 8          talked about it for years.  I had meetings 

 9          with the Army Corps of Engineers when I was a 

10          county legislator six years ago, and they 

11          said they could put up money but have no 

12          partners.  Is there any way that we can get 

13          some money into this budget to partner with 

14          the Army Corps of Engineers to do the work we 

15          need to do on the Sawmill River Parkway and 

16          on the Hutchinson River Parkway and the Bronx 

17          River Parkway and all of the other roads -- I 

18          say parkways, but basically the rivers are 

19          flowing onto the parkways and creating havoc.

20                 And from a monetary point of view, DOT 

21          is spending a lot of money raising the 

22          Sawmill River Parkway every time the Sawmill 

23          River floods.  And so we're wasting money on 

24          a temporary solution that two years later we 


                                                                  154

 1          have to redo.  If we could just put the money 

 2          into fixing the river in the first place, we 

 3          might be saving money and saving a lot of 

 4          grief and havoc to a lot of homeowners and 

 5          businesses.

 6                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  

 7          Assemblyman, I can feel your pain.  I've been 

 8          stuck on the Sawmill many times.

 9                 We do have money in the budget this 

10          year, as we do every year, to deal with 

11          priority watershed issues.  The WQIP line -- 

12          that's Water Quality Improvement Program 

13          line -- of the EPF, it's a competitive 

14          program.  It's $10 million this year.  And we 

15          would certainly encourage folks in your 

16          district to apply for funding to help control 

17          flooding issues on the Sawmill.  I mean, it 

18          strikes me that that would be a more than 

19          eligible type of grant that could be made.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  I appreciate 

21          that.  It just sounds like such a small 

22          amount of money for what is really a 

23          statewide problem.  Is there any way that we 

24          could talk about taking a little bit more 


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 1          money from the settlements in a one-time fund 

 2          dedicated to dealing with stormwater 

 3          management and flooding?

 4                 I know in Westchester County, for 

 5          example, we passed a law that requires the 

 6          county to survey all of the watersheds and 

 7          identify those places where the money should 

 8          be spent, it would be best spent.  And that 

 9          kind of a plan might work statewide.  And 

10          then if we could put some money into it, we 

11          might be able to solve some of these 

12          problems.

13                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

14          can certainly take your request back and we 

15          can work strategically with you to figure out 

16          what parts of the EPF might be able to help, 

17          frankly.  I mean, there is the climate 

18          account as well that there may be some 

19          appropriate investments that could be made 

20          out of that to help reduce the impacts from 

21          flooding and also just increase the 

22          vegetative space.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Thank you.  

24                 And I just have a piece of legislation 


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 1          in the non-budget that I'd like to call your 

 2          attention to.  We've been trying to limit 

 3          idling throughout the state by motor vehicles 

 4          and maybe even diesel engines, which really 

 5          contributes heavily to the air pollution 

 6          problem.  And I would hope that somewhere 

 7          along the way we could talk and maybe get 

 8          your support for it.  

 9                 It works in Westchester; people love 

10          it.

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  You more 

12          than have my support for it.  In fact, you 

13          know, our ECOs typically once or twice a 

14          year, around the state, will set up idling 

15          campaigns, will go to hot spots where you see 

16          trucks idling on a regular basis, or perhaps 

17          being noncompliant trucks coming through 

18          regions, period.

19                 So we have in mind a few spots this 

20          year.  I'd be happy to work with you on any 

21          intel you can provide us.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Thank you.

23                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

24          you.


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 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 2          much.  

 3                 And to close, now, Assemblyman 

 4          Englebright.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  You have 

 6          done very well for your inaugural before us.

 7                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Still 

 8          time to -- time left, right?

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I have a 

10          brief question regarding the Part 360 Long 

11          Island mulch facilities issue.  The Governor, 

12          when he issued his veto message last year, 

13          indicated the department would be releasing 

14          new Part 360 regulations by February 28th, 

15          and that justified the veto because you were 

16          going to do this instead.

17                 So are those regulations, which relate 

18          to solid waste issues, still on track to be 

19          released on February 28th?  And within that 

20          context, does the budget include any Part 360 

21          implementation monies?

22                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  The 

23          answer is yes, my staff is sleepless and 

24          getting the 360 regs done.  We'll have those 


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 1          out by the 28th.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  And are 

 3          there any implementation monies in the 

 4          budget?

 5                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  There are 

 6          no implementation monies in the budget for 

 7          Part 360 regs.  

 8                 But I would remind you that the regs 

 9          are going to go out for public comment when 

10          we release them.  I'm not sure we've put a 

11          timeline on the comment period, but, you 

12          know, at least 90 days, I would think.  And 

13          then that's got to go through the rulemaking 

14          process throughout the course of the year.

15                 We're going to get it done this year.  

16          We can think creatively about how aspects of 

17          the Part 360 regs may need funding and 

18          certainly come to you next year, think about 

19          how, you know, how we can work together to 

20          make sure that account is funded.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  We 

22          appreciate your testimony this morning and 

23          your offer to all of us, one issue at a time, 

24          to work through these issues together on 


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 1          behalf of the people of the state.

 2                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

 3          you.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

 5          for your presentation, Commissioner.

 6                 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 9                 And thank you, Acting Commissioner 

10          Seggos.  We appreciated your time today.

11                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

12          you, Chairwoman.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And now you can 

14          leave.

15                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay, 

16          wonderful.  Thank you.  Good luck.

17                 (Laughter.)

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

19          much.

20                 ACTING COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank 

21          you.  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

23                 Our next presenter will be Rose 

24          Harvey, commissioner of the Office of Parks, 


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 1          Recreation and Historic Preservation.

 2                 Welcome, Commissioner Harvey.  How are 

 3          you?

 4                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Very well.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So glad to have you 

 6          here today.  So you're free to give us your 

 7          testimony.  

 8                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you very 

 9          much.  

10                 Good morning.  And I have, to my left, 

11          Andy Beers, who's our exec dep of Parks, 

12          Recreation and Historic Preservation.  

13                 Good morning, Chairwoman Young, 

14          Chairman Farrell, and distinguished members 

15          of the Tourism and Parks Committees and the 

16          Legislature.  And thank you for inviting me 

17          to discuss Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget.  

18                 As commissioner of Parks, Recreation 

19          and Historic Preservation, I'm charged with 

20          overseeing New York's outstanding system of 

21          180 parks and 35 historic sites.  New Yorkers 

22          take great pride in their parks, and thanks 

23          to Governor Cuomo's leadership, we've done 

24          much more to connect more people to parks, 


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 1          revitalize facilities, keep parks and 

 2          historic sites open and welcoming, and 

 3          provide outstanding recreational and 

 4          interpretive experiences for residents and 

 5          tourists alike. 

 6                 The 2016-2017 Executive Budget 

 7          maintains level funding for park operations, 

 8          provides robust capital funding to continue 

 9          the modernization and revitalization of our 

10          facilities and infrastructure, and last but 

11          not least, dramatically increases the 

12          Environmental Protection Fund to help enhance 

13          our stewardship of the state's natural and 

14          cultural resources.  

15                 The park system again this year has 

16          been very busy and very successful.  We had 

17          historic high attendance at our parks, our 

18          beaches, our campgrounds.  Letchworth and 

19          Watkins Glen State Parks were ranked the 

20          first and third best state parks in America 

21          by readers of USA Today.  Our facilities last 

22          year and this year will host many more major 

23          events, concerts, festivals and athletic 

24          competitions, to provide a deeper and better 


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 1          experience for our visitors and, in turn, 

 2          provided an economic boost to the local 

 3          economies.  A few examples:  The Smorgasburg 

 4          Market at East River State Park in Brooklyn, 

 5          the Memorial Day Air Show, the now-reinstated 

 6          Fourth of July fireworks and Holiday Light 

 7          Show at Jones Beach, celebrations to come of 

 8          the 50th anniversary of Saratoga Performing 

 9          Arts Center, the first marathon over Walkway 

10          Over the Hudson.  This year, Bethpage State 

11          Park in Farmingdale is scheduled to host the 

12          Barclays PGA Tour, followed by the PGA 

13          Championship in 2019 and the Ryder Cup in 

14          2024.  These events bring hundreds of 

15          thousands of visitors and worldwide 

16          television coverage.  

17                 As part of Governor Cuomo's New York 

18          Parks 2020 plan to invest $900 million in 

19          State Parks by 2020, the Executive Budget 

20          continues to make significant capital 

21          investments in our parks and historic sites 

22          that will serve their communities and anchor 

23          our tourism economy.  This year, using funds 

24          allocated in fiscal year 2015 and earlier, we 


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 1          will begin construction to modernize and 

 2          create the Cave of the Winds museum/ 

 3          interpretive/ticket center at Niagara Falls 

 4          State Park, we'll break ground on a new 

 5          marketplace at Jones Beach State Park, and 

 6          we're going to complete the major rehab of 

 7          the historic West Bathhouse.  We'll open a 

 8          state-of-the-art nature center at Letchworth 

 9          State Park.  We're hosting visitors now to 

10          the just-opened Seneca Art and Cultural 

11          Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site.  

12          And we're welcoming campers to Schodack 

13          Island State Park in the Hudson Valley, where 

14          we've built the system's first new 

15          full-service campground in decades.  

16                 Of course, we continue to fix and 

17          modernize the infrastructure throughout all 

18          our parks on which these basic and new 

19          services rely.  In fact, since the Governor 

20          launched Parks 2020, we have advanced more 

21          than 230 separate projects within 133 parks 

22          and historic sites to enhance, restore and 

23          repair our public facilities.  From the 

24          opening of the new Buffalo Harbor State Park 


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 1          to the transformation of Roberto Clemente 

 2          State Park in the Bronx, our parks depend on 

 3          this infrastructure.  

 4                 This year's Executive Budget provides 

 5          another $90 million in capital funding for 

 6          State Parks improvements, which will leverage 

 7          a broad range of additional public and 

 8          private funding to match it and allow us to 

 9          finish what we started last year and begin 

10          new and critically important projects across 

11          the state, including the complete redo of the 

12          Watkins Glen entrance, the Thacher Visitor 

13          Center, the much-improved Green Lakes 

14          campground, new cabins at Sampson, and then 

15          fixing and modernizing the numerous sewer, 

16          water and electric systems that need to be 

17          updated.  

18                 Once complete in 2020, we will have 

19          made transformative changes at over 30 of our 

20          flagship locations and those parks that serve 

21          communities of need, and we will touch almost 

22          every other park.  

23                 As you know, the Governor has proposed 

24          to nearly double the Environmental Protection 


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 1          Fund.  As a result, all of the EPF funding 

 2          for programs traditionally administered by 

 3          State Parks will increase, including State 

 4          Lands Stewardship funding, which is crucial 

 5          to our staff's work to protect and provide 

 6          access to the natural and cultural resources 

 7          that our parks shelter.  

 8                 The EPF budget continues two new 

 9          programs established last year:  The Park and 

10          Trail Partnership Program, which, with the 

11          assistance of Parks and Trails New York, 

12          provides competitive grants to our friends 

13          groups that support our parks and our 

14          historic sites; and the Excelsior 

15          Conservation Corps program, a hands-on job 

16          training program that will enhance the 

17          natural resources and recreational 

18          opportunities in our parks.  

19                 The Governor has also introduced a new 

20          investment that will provide funding to 

21          expand environmental education and support 

22          the new Connect Kids initiative, which will 

23          provide transportation grants to schools to 

24          bring children in underserved areas to our 


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 1          state parks and lands.  

 2                 Our agency also administers one of the 

 3          strongest historic preservation programs in 

 4          the nation.  Last year, the State Historic 

 5          Preservation Office, SHPO, advanced nearly a 

 6          hundred listings to the State and National 

 7          Registers of Historic Places.  State and 

 8          federal historic rehabilitation tax credits 

 9          spurred more than $550 million in commercial 

10          redevelopment projects statewide, with many 

11          more of those located in upstate communities 

12          than in previous years.  Applications for the 

13          state historic tax credit for homeowners also 

14          reached a new high, with over 270 projects in 

15          the pipeline for rehabilitation.  

16                 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the 

17          National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, 

18          which established a historic preservation 

19          policy for the nation.  New York will join in 

20          nationwide efforts to recognize this event. 

21                 Thank you again for all your 

22          commitment to our magnificent state parks, 

23          all your support for our agency, and all of 

24          your partnership through thick and thin.  We 


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 1          appreciate it.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 3          much.  

 4                 Senator Betty Little has a question.

 5                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Thank you, 

 6          Commissioner.  I appreciate you being here.  

 7                 And I am sure that the number of 

 8          visitors to our state parks, the increase in 

 9          the number of visitors, can be attributed to 

10          the Governor's program of putting more money 

11          into our state parks and making the 

12          improvements, and to you as commissioner for 

13          implementing all these improvements.  Our 

14          parks have truly had great renovation, great 

15          additions, and really good upkeep in the last 

16          several years.

17                 And of course I continue to hope and 

18          wish that the campgrounds within the 

19          Adirondack Park, no offense to DEC, but I 

20          would prefer they were under Parks, 

21          Recreation and Historic Preservation.  

22                 Nevertheless, the only thing I saw in 

23          the budget that I thought was a concern -- 

24          and I know it would be a concern to our local 


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 1          governments -- is the provisions in the 

 2          Navigation Law changing the match for 

 3          enforcement of the navigation law from 

 4          50 percent to 25 percent.  As you know, 

 5          there's a lot of boaters on all of our lakes, 

 6          and our counties and towns that provide this 

 7          are really strapped and are under a tax cap 

 8          which is not even 2 percent for this year.

 9                 So I would ask that that be changed 

10          and even go up to 75 percent, which I think 

11          it was at one time.  Is there any possibility 

12          that could happen?

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I think that it 

14          is in the budget.  And we work in close 

15          partnership with the municipalities, and we 

16          provide thousands and thousands of hours of 

17          training.  We also are continuing to buy 

18          boats for local municipalities for patrol.  

19          And as the reimbursements are for voluntary 

20          patrols, it is also spread over 52 different 

21          municipalities.  So I think that we're just 

22          going to have to work to, you know, try to 

23          make it work.  And it's going to be the 

24          municipalities' decision as to how they do 


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 1          that.

 2                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Well, hopefully we 

 3          can do something about that as well.

 4                 I really commend you on your app, and 

 5          I also commend you for getting the boater 

 6          safety training course online.  I think those 

 7          are two huge improvements, and I appreciate 

 8          that.

 9                 I'd also like to point out that we did 

10          pass a commission on the women's suffrage 

11          movement, and 2017 will be the year we 

12          commemorate New York State allowing women the 

13          right to vote.  So we're looking to Parks, 

14          Recreation and Historic Preservation to help 

15          us in promoting those things.

16                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We're one of the 

17          many partners --

18                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Yes.

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  -- and we look 

20          forward to working with you.

21                 SENATOR LITTLE:  All right.  Thank you 

22          very much.

23                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.


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 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  We've 

 2          been joined by Assemblyman Titone.

 3                 And next is Assemblywoman Russell.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN RUSSELL:  Thank you.  

 5          Welcome, Commissioner.  I have a couple of 

 6          questions.

 7                 The first is, you know, I applaud the 

 8          efforts we've made over the last several 

 9          years in terms of increasing capital funding 

10          for our parks infrastructure.  But I do know 

11          that there's a decrease in funding this year.  

12          I'm just wondering, is that because we've 

13          cleared a lot of backlog?  Or, you know, what 

14          would be the cause for that as we are still 

15          trying to get to that goal in 2020 of 

16          revitalizing our parks?

17                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So you speak of 

18          the 110 to 90 million.

19                 The plan -- New York Parks 2020 always 

20          anticipated $90 million a year for seven 

21          years, with three years before and going 

22          forward these four years.  And the funding 

23          was a -- the 110 was a one-time increase last 

24          year to address some critical infrastructure 


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 1          issues.  But it's always anticipated that 

 2          it's $90 million a year.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN RUSSELL:  Okay.  I have 

 4          also received some feedback from my community 

 5          about the institution of a surprise fee at 

 6          some of my state parks.  And I'm just 

 7          wondering, you know, is this a conscious 

 8          decision to create a two-tiered system in our 

 9          state parks of one that's affordable and one 

10          that's a little less affordable?  I really 

11          was caught off guard by that new development.

12                 Also because it wasn't widely 

13          publicized and was kind of a shock to folks 

14          that make their reservations early and had 

15          budgeted for their time at a state park and 

16          then found it unaffordable and had to, you 

17          know, try to make other arrangements.

18                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  The way our 

19          camping fees work is that we have a basic fee 

20          which has not changed.  And then we add on 

21          amenities, and always have, you know, for the 

22          history of camping based on, you know, water, 

23          degree of electricity, you know, whether it's 

24          prime, flagship, and so forth and so on.


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 1                 And so there's been no increase in 

 2          fees, it's just been -- and regularly we 

 3          adjust those, particularly as we, you know, 

 4          increase electricity or improve campsites and 

 5          so forth and so on.  So it's the camper's 

 6          choice as to, you know, what campsite they 

 7          pick and go for.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN RUSSELL:  But from what 

 9          I understand, this particular issue was 

10          apples to apples; it's just that maybe for 

11          some reason the park became -- got a new 

12          designation.  But the public really isn't 

13          made aware of it, and certainly the 

14          Legislature isn't.  

15                 And so, you know, I find this to be 

16          particularly problematic and disturbing 

17          that -- are we paying for these upgrades out 

18          of the General Fund, or are we paying these 

19          off of the back of our visitors after the 

20          fact?  I'm really not comfortable with this 

21          bait-and-switch type of administration to 

22          capital improvements.  If we're paying for 

23          them out of the General Fund, I don't expect 

24          then on the back end to, you know, charge 


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 1          more and make it unaffordable for long-time 

 2          park-goers who we rely on for their 

 3          year-to-year business to ensure that we have 

 4          significant vacancy rates to keep the system 

 5          strong.

 6                 So I really feel like rug has been 

 7          pulled out from underneath certain people.  

 8          And I will follow up with your office to get 

 9          further justification for all of a sudden, 

10          you know, change from year to year when there 

11          was really no noticeable difference at that 

12          particular park.

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And I appreciate 

14          talking to you.  And it is what we've been 

15          doing for a long, long time, but I appreciate 

16          your input, and we'll look at how we do it.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN RUSSELL:  I want to turn 

18          now to the portion of the budget that deals 

19          with the Navigation Law and essentially 

20          defunding local agencies for providing what 

21          ironically is called voluntary enforcement of 

22          the Navigation Law.

23                 As you are very well familiar with the 

24          St. Lawrence River Valley in your experience 


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 1          there, I'm not sure that you could consider 

 2          voluntary enforcement of the Navigation Law 

 3          in the St. Lawrence River Valley to be 

 4          voluntary.  There are, you know, tons and 

 5          tons and tons of cargo that go through, huge 

 6          amounts of recreational tourism, in a very 

 7          tight area.  And so having orderly boating 

 8          and adherence to laws in that area is 

 9          something of utmost importance.

10                 The St. Lawrence Seaway projects that 

11          2,000 jobs are supported based off of that 

12          waterway in my district.  And to think that 

13          it's voluntary to ensure that kind of -- you 

14          know, sometimes it's not a two-line highway, 

15          you have to go in one direction when you get 

16          to the locks.  That, you know, this 

17          essentially has to be provided, it will be an 

18          unfunded mandate on the localities.  And 

19          given the economic importance and the 

20          environmental significance of this area, I 

21          think that maybe perhaps we could have a 

22          little bit of a different approach to these 

23          very significant areas.  

24                 And I haven't even touched on the 


                                                                  175

 1          dynamic between Canadian law enforcement and 

 2          New York law enforcement, whether it's state 

 3          or local, and the value that local law 

 4          enforcement officials bring when the 

 5          state-level folks that are assigned to our 

 6          area can have no idea about the specific 

 7          geography of a river that you have to have 

 8          specialized pilots in order to navigate for 

 9          large shipping, you know, really needs, I 

10          think, to be looked at.

11                 And, you know, I just will note that 

12          last year, a, quote, unquote, accident almost 

13          derailed the Governor's Bass Master 

14          Tournament because it would have shut down 

15          shipping.  And so I know that your office and 

16          the Governor's office is aware of this and I 

17          certainly in the future would not like to see 

18          this referred to as kind of a voluntary 

19          obligation to ensure that one of the most 

20          strategic waterways in the nation and the 

21          world is not going to be adequately patrolled 

22          and enforced to keep safety and commerce 

23          moving.

24                 Also, my time is up, but I would like 


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 1          to thank Senator Little for bringing up the 

 2          100th anniversary celebration of women's 

 3          suffrage and would hope that the department 

 4          could play a more leading, aggressive, 

 5          prominent role in ensuring that we celebrate 

 6          it as its due.  Thank you.

 7                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 9                 And, Commissioner -- first I want to 

10          note that we've been joined by Senator Patty 

11          Ritchie, who will speak in a minute, but I 

12          had a couple of questions.

13                 First of all, sincerely, 

14          congratulations on the designation of 

15          Letchworth State Park by USA Today as the 

16          number-one park in the entire country.  And 

17          as you know, I represent about half of the 

18          park, so --

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So thank you.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  -- it was thrilling 

21          for me to be able to see that accomplishment.  

22          And I fully agree with the readers that it is 

23          the number-one park -- although I shouldn't 

24          tell my other parks that, because --


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 1                 (Laughter.)

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  -- I think you also 

 3          know that I represent about seven other 

 4          parks:  Midway Park in Chautauqua County, 

 5          Long Point Park, Lake Erie Park.  We've got 

 6          Allegany State Park on the border, we've got 

 7          the Stony Brook Park, we've got the Greenway 

 8          Trail, Genesee Greenway.  So as you know, I 

 9          have a strong interest in the park system.  

10                 I was interested to hear your response 

11          regarding the reduction in the Governor's 

12          budget proposal of $20 million from the 

13          capital funds, taking it back to 

14          $92.5 million.  And the question I have is -- 

15          and we face this year after year, in that 

16          there's kind of a broad overview of capital 

17          but there is no detail, however.  And so it's 

18          challenging for us, I believe.  As 

19          legislators we want to make sure that we know 

20          how we're allocating money.  

21                 Is there any possibility that we could 

22          get a list of the capital projects that 

23          you're looking at this coming year?

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Absolutely.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That would be 

 2          great.

 3                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 5                 That's basically all I had.  

 6                 Any other Assemblymembers?

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Didi Barrett.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Well, thank 

 9          you for being here, and thank you for -- I've 

10          enjoyed working with you on lots of projects, 

11          and it's just great, all your vision and your 

12          leadership, both of you, on so many of these 

13          issues.

14                 I do want to echo the women's suffrage 

15          point that's been made.  Is there any money 

16          in the budget for working on that this year?  

17          Because I think this is obviously something 

18          that, you know, we don't just jump into in 

19          2017.

20                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So not at this 

21          point.  But we'll work on that.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  We'll work on 

23          that, okay.  Good.

24                 Also want to echo the comments about 


                                                                  179

 1          the navigation.  And our municipalities are 

 2          pretty strapped, and it's -- for a savings of 

 3          $900,000, I think you're going to anger an 

 4          awful lot of municipalities.  So maybe you 

 5          can rethink that.

 6                 And I want to thank you for the 

 7          transportation in Connect Kids.  I mean, I 

 8          think the transportation issue is a huge 

 9          obstacle for many of our parks to get kids 

10          from school districts, because there's no 

11          funding for the school districts anymore.  I 

12          would love to see that expanded in other ways 

13          so it's not just kids but in, you know, some 

14          of our urban communities -- like, for 

15          example, in my district, getting people from 

16          Hudson to some of our parks.  I mean, there's 

17          no bus system, there's no -- you know, unless 

18          you have a car, the entire community is 

19          really disconnected from parks that are -- 

20          Olana or Lake Taconic or parks that are right 

21          nearby but are inaccessible because of that.

22                 I just really want to ask you, 

23          though -- and this is an issue I know we've 

24          talked about, but is there another option 


                                                                  180

 1          around the private/public partnerships?  How 

 2          can we do a better job of getting the 

 3          investments, particularly in our historic 

 4          sites, besides these 40-year leases?  I mean, 

 5          those don't seem to be such appealing options 

 6          for a lot of potential developers because, 

 7          you know, they're still only 40 years, 

 8          they're investing a huge amount of money.  

 9                 We have these great sites that are 

10          deteriorating.  You know, communities are 

11          frustrated because, you know, they're 

12          increasingly eyesores.  They're great 

13          resources and potential resources for the 

14          communities.

15                 Is there some -- you know, in all of 

16          your knowledge and observation of what's 

17          worked and not worked, are there some other 

18          ways that we could be approaching this?

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I think the -- 

20          albeit not perfect, but right now we only 

21          have 20-year authority.  I do believe that 

22          40-year leases on those projects where, as 

23          you recall before Governor Cuomo, for four 

24          years we didn't even have a capital budget.  


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 1          So there's a degree of -- a substantial 

 2          capital budget.  There's been a degree of 

 3          deterioration.

 4                 And so we need investment, and so you 

 5          need to amortize that investment.  And there 

 6          are many partners that, you know, would be 

 7          appropriate, whether it be a little 

 8          restaurant or a bed-and-breakfast or whatever 

 9          it may be appropriate to the use.  So we 

10          haven't come up with another alternative, but 

11          we'll think about it for sure, of how do we 

12          encourage these partnerships where we get 

13          both investment and also operational 

14          assistance.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Right.  

16          because it is, you know -- and when I've 

17          raised this with people -- and, you know, as 

18          you know, there's a number of opportunities 

19          in my district, it's:  Well, you know, you 

20          end up spending all this money and you don't 

21          own it in the end, and it's still -- even 40 

22          years is -- I mean, you know, it's a big 

23          bite.

24                 And I think, you know, that we do want 


                                                                  182

 1          to see these revitalized and be part of the 

 2          community and the economy.  So I would 

 3          certainly welcome any thoughts that you have 

 4          on that.

 5                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And yours too.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Thank you.  

 7          Thanks very much.

 8                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  That would be 

 9          great.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Our 

11          next speaker is Senator Patty Ritchie.

12                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Commissioner, I just 

13          wanted to take a moment and thank you for all 

14          your hard work.  I represent the Lake Ontario 

15          shore and also the St. Lawrence River, and 

16          parks are extremely important to my district.  

17          And whether the improvements are big or 

18          small, they're certainly being noticed.

19                 Tomorrow we're going to have a 

20          ribbon-cutting on the cross-country ski trail 

21          that's just outside of Morristown.  It's 

22          something that may seem little, but it's a 

23          big deal for our area.

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It's big, yeah.


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 1                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  So I just want to 

 2          take a minute and commend you on your 

 3          responsiveness.  Every time I've sent a 

 4          letter in or called your office to try to 

 5          have something done, you've done your best to 

 6          address it and we've gotten, I think, a lot 

 7          of those issues settled.  So I just want to 

 8          take a minute and say thank you.

 9                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And thank you 

10          and all of you, because you are our ears and 

11          eyes on the ground, and we really also 

12          appreciate all the support.  And I appreciate 

13          all the dialog, all the ideas, and all the 

14          resolutions.

15                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

17                 Assembly?

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman 

19          Englebright.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

21          for your testimony this morning, 

22          Commissioner.  It's good to see you.

23                 I have several questions.  Let me 

24          start with the Heritage Area program.  That's 


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 1          a part of the legal responsibilities of your 

 2          department, and it's understandable how 

 3          during the big economic downturn of a few 

 4          years ago, that program was not as high on 

 5          the priority list in a triage situation that 

 6          those years presented.

 7                 We're not in triage now.  The Governor 

 8          has dramatically expanded and invested into 

 9          the I Love NY program and encouraged tourism.  

10          I'm just wondering if we can perhaps have a 

11          follow-up meeting, because I'm still 

12          involved, as you are, with this program.  If 

13          we might be able to have a follow-up meeting 

14          to explore ways to perhaps build a new nexus 

15          with the I Love NY and tourism initiatives 

16          and integrate this concept into it.

17                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And we'd love to 

18          have a meeting, love to have all your ideas 

19          and thoughts and help.  

20                 And our approach, not even just a 

21          triage, has been to weave these Heritage 

22          Areas kind of into the social, cultural, 

23          economic fabric of the communities of which 

24          they represent and create.  And the more 


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 1          they're woven in locally, the more success we 

 2          will have.  And what we've been doing, and 

 3          actually proactively as a program -- not 

 4          because of lack of resources -- is we've been 

 5          meeting with them and encouraging them to 

 6          apply for local grants.  And I just looked at 

 7          the numbers, and, you know, they've -- over 

 8          the last three years it's $8.5 million.  So 

 9          that's fairly substantial, more than they've 

10          been getting ever before.

11                 And then they're being woven in, by 

12          virtue of being part of certain communities, 

13          into the I Love NY, but we could weave them 

14          in even more.  And that's real advertising in 

15          terms of it's millions of dollars.

16                 So how we can -- I think it's better 

17          having them outside of the agency and more 

18          then making sure we channel all the 

19          resources, you know, to them that could be 

20          available and educate them and help them in 

21          all of that.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Well, they 

23          represent a dramatic potential.  I was just 

24          in Massachusetts yesterday looking at the 


                                                                  186

 1          Heritage Corridor -- it's mostly federal.

 2                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And federal, 

 3          too, yeah.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  -- that are 

 5          threaded throughout that state.  It's clear 

 6          that our model is the federal model.  I just 

 7          hate to think that we can't make more of this 

 8          potential in our own state, and I'd love to 

 9          have a chance to work with you to explore 

10          that.

11                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  That would be 

12          great.  I would love to work with you.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

14                 Nature Centers.  Again, during the 

15          economic downturn, it wasn't really possible 

16          to think about creating new Nature Centers.  

17          We don't have a whole lot of them; we have a 

18          few in the parks -- Bear Mountain used to 

19          have one.  I'm not sure it's still there.  

20                 But you mentioned prominently that 

21          there's a new state-of-the-art Nature Center 

22          that's going to be at Letchworth.  I think 

23          that's terrific.  I'm just wondering if you 

24          could expand upon that just a little bit.  Is 


                                                                  187

 1          this something that each of the regions would 

 2          have one Nature Center, perhaps, that might 

 3          be able to go and offer programs at the 

 4          different parks?  What is the model?  Is it a 

 5          not-for-profit partner?  Is it State Parks 

 6          personnel?  How is it administered?  

 7                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So we've 

 8          actually -- we've gone back and done an 

 9          inventory of all our Nature Centers, and 

10          actually we have over -- I think it's, you 

11          know, low twenties.  And some smaller than 

12          others.  And we're looking at those in terms 

13          of, you know, revitalizing them and making 

14          them also available if we do, you know, some 

15          of the transportation programs, particularly 

16          for youth from -- urban youth.

17                 And we also have looked at building, 

18          you know, new and larger Nature Centers.  And 

19          you've got Letchworth, Grafton's coming 

20          online, you're going to have one in New York 

21          City, we're going to upgrade the one at Jones 

22          Beach.  So we're looking all across the 

23          system.  We're going to fix and revitalize 

24          the ones that are there, and then we've 


                                                                  188

 1          looked at our nature parks and areas, and 

 2          then you're going to see some new, you know, 

 3          visitor nature centers coming online.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I'd like to 

 5          learn more about it and, again, would welcome 

 6          a chance to meet with you and talk with you 

 7          about that.

 8                 Final question, the Zoos, Botanical 

 9          Gardens and Aquariums program, how does that 

10          stand currently, the ZBGA program?

11                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  The ZBGA?

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Yes.

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It received a 

14          modest bump in the EPF, and it's -- 

15          everything's going forward and there are no 

16          changes and we look forward to continuing to 

17          give them grants and be partners with them.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.  

19          My time is about up.  I just want to also 

20          mention Assemblywoman Barrett's concern 

21          regarding adaptive reuse of historic sites 

22          is -- she is not alone.  There are a number 

23          of us that share in that concern.  I'd love 

24          to have a chance to follow up with that as 


                                                                  189

 1          well.

 2                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  That would be 

 3          great.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

 5                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We're all on the 

 6          same page.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 8                 Our next speaker is Senator Tom 

 9          O'Mara.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

11                 Commissioner, good afternoon.

12                 I just want to follow up again on the 

13          Assemblywoman's comments on the leasing, 

14          these public/private partnerships.  And you 

15          and I worked on that a lot, particularly at 

16          the end of session last year, and the clock 

17          ran out on us and the Assemblywoman as well.

18                 Where do we -- is there anything in 

19          the budget to address those issues of 

20          longer-term leases available for private 

21          infrastructure development?

22                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  There isn't 

23          anything in the budget.  It would be either, 

24          you know, if you all introduced bills and 


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 1          then it's, you know, an RFP which would go 

 2          out.

 3                 But I believe that we would get more 

 4          partnerships if we did have 40 years.  It's 

 5          not perfect, but it's better than what we 

 6          have now, which is only 20 years.  And 

 7          it's -- many of these historic sites are at a 

 8          level of deterioration that are going to 

 9          require a very large investment of dollars.

10                 So -- and if you get a 40-year, you 

11          don't even have to go to 40 years.  But you 

12          could at least go to 29 years, which makes 

13          you eligible for the tax credits.  So now 

14          investors aren't even eligible for the 

15          historic preservation tax credits.  So it 

16          would be --

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, I will be 

18          working on that again, in particular the 

19          project in my district on Seneca Lake with 

20          Sampson State Park.  And the deterioration of 

21          that marina there requires such an investment 

22          that it just really can't feasibly be 

23          recouped with user fees over that short a 

24          period.  So I look forward to working with 


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 1          you and your office on that.

 2                 Would your preference be to do these 

 3          individually or -- I know we had a package of 

 4          bills last year, and that kind of tied things 

 5          up with a number of parks in there together.  

 6          What are your thoughts on that?

 7                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We have -- we've 

 8          done a whole inventory, and so we have a lot 

 9          of parks that could benefit from it.  And it 

10          would be in your hands to decide, but we can 

11          certainly share with you just our thoughts of 

12          where there are both market opportunities, 

13          real need, which would restore, renovate and 

14          bring them into a functional use.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Would it be 

16          preferable to the department to have more of 

17          a blanket authorization to go to that length 

18          when you deem it appropriate at the 

19          department?  Or we come to you with a piece 

20          of legislation for every individual instance 

21          that you're thinking that's necessary?

22                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I'm going to 

23          leave that to your wisdom, because it just -- 

24          it depends.


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 1                 But what's preferable to our 

 2          department is that we have an opportunity for 

 3          these kind of partnerships.  And I think the 

 4          40-year lease would give that.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  That's all I have.

 6                 And thank you for your stewardship of 

 7          our parks, of which our number-three 

 8          nationally rated park, Watkins Glen, is 

 9          within my district.  It's gorgeous.  And 

10          Letchworth being just outside of it, that's 

11          quite a recognition this year for our State 

12          Parks system.  Thank you.

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Otis.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you, 

17          Mr. Chairman.

18                 Commissioner, thank you for your 

19          comments.  We have one of those successful 

20          not-for-profit public partnerships, and it 

21          has gone very well.  And I certainly think 

22          that even if the Legislature were to still 

23          want to approve these on a case-by-case 

24          basis, one way to move the ball on this is to 


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 1          at least provide a format, a boilerplate that 

 2          you can then show to prospective groups on 

 3          these properties.  And so I think the 

 4          Legislature needs to collaborate with you on 

 5          what that boilerplate would be.

 6                 But that would probably ease the 

 7          marketing of these opportunities to 

 8          not-for-profits or for-profit kinds of 

 9          entities.  But we have a good one on the 

10          Sound Shore.

11                 My question is about -- you know, it's 

12          been such a great investment the last five 

13          years in terms of capital projects for state 

14          parks.  Do you manage the planning, design, 

15          construction out of Albany or out of the 

16          regions?  I mean, it's a big increased 

17          workload to manage $90 million a year.  So 

18          just briefly, some picture on how the 

19          department is organizing themselves for that.

20                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So we basically 

21          work with our regions and we get all of their 

22          thoughts for their needs.  And as you know, 

23          before this program even started, we had, you 

24          know, a $1.1 billion backlog, which is higher 


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 1          now, you know, with time.  Every year it goes 

 2          higher.

 3                 And then they gave us what all the 

 4          needs are and, you know, a big piece of it is 

 5          just basic infrastructure, because you can't 

 6          do anything new until you fix the basic 

 7          infrastructure.  And then we work out of 

 8          Albany and look at it, and then we work with 

 9          consultants and contractors for design.  And 

10          if it's, you know, a big change, then we 

11          definitely have public outreach.  If it's, 

12          you know, basic infrastructure, then we go 

13          forward.

14                 And as with everything with the state, 

15          it's a long process, so, you know, you start 

16          in Year 1 and it's going to be Year 3 that 

17          it's going to get done.  So we really have a 

18          pipeline now that's in place.  And then some 

19          years we've got to aggregate money before we 

20          can go forward.  But it's a very rigorous, 

21          from-the-ground-up process.  And then with 

22          design, if it's brand-new and different, then 

23          there's also public outreach.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Well, thank you.  


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 1          Thank you for your great work on all these 

 2          issues, and everyone at State Parks.

 3                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.  

 4          Thank you for your partnership.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 6          much.  

 7                 Next is Senator Liz Krueger.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.  I'm surrounded 

 9          by Senators who have enormous amounts of 

10          parkland in their districts and apparently 

11          compete over the best parks in the country, 

12          so wonderful.

13                 I am from very densely people 

14          populated New York City, where if we find 14 

15          trees together, we put a bench next to them 

16          and say it's a new park.  And we're very 

17          sensitive about our desperate need for green 

18          space.

19                 So in your testimony you talk about 

20          some of the models you've been using, 

21          including Smorgasburg in East River Park in 

22          Brooklyn.  I know what Smorgasburgs are; 

23          there's a number of them, and they're 

24          delightful.  They're basically go and eat 


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 1          outdoor food by creative famous or 

 2          not-so-famous chefs.  

 3                 My concern is, for state parks in 

 4          urban areas, in New York City parks we have 

 5          some fairly strict rules about not letting 

 6          commercial ventures encroach on our very 

 7          limited urban park space.  And I'm curious, 

 8          does the state have some kind of parallel 

 9          process?  Because again, I love to go to 

10          these kinds of places and enjoy outdoor 

11          eating, but I worry that for economic revenue 

12          purposes we might find ourselves in some 

13          places -- probably the urban small parks -- 

14          taking park space away for active green space 

15          and turning it into commercial activity.

16                 So are there rules you follow?

17                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  There are no 

18          formulaic rules.  But, you know, that's 

19          Williamsburg and that's a small park --

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  A very densely 

21          populated community.

22                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Very densely 

23          populated, but actually not all that well 

24          used.  And there was plenty of public 


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 1          involvement in it.  And, you know, we met 

 2          with the community; they wanted it.  And it's 

 3          also a park that is -- it has some asphalt on 

 4          it that's off to the side that's not part of 

 5          the green space.  So it was kind of greatly 

 6          complementary.

 7                 But, you know, we worked with the 

 8          community.  And their hours are set and, you 

 9          know, the community knew it, the friends 

10          group knew it, and local representatives knew 

11          it.  So you don't want to be formulaic, 

12          but -- I get that completely.  And, you know, 

13          we always touch base, you know, with the 

14          community on that.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I might just 

16          suggest, take a look at New York City's 

17          policies for its parks --

18                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I will.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- and think about 

20          that in the context of other -- we don't have 

21          that much state parkland in New York City, 

22          obviously, so I don't know how many 

23          replicatable situations there would be.  But 

24          I -- it's not a problem, I guess it's just a 


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 1          hesitation that we don't want to go down that 

 2          road without thinking about it.

 3                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes, and one 

 4          also -- here, it was not at all driven by 

 5          economics.  It was actually to bring more 

 6          people to the park, which has been great.

 7                 But I will check, because it's 

 8          something we should always think about.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

10                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Titone.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Thank you, 

14          Chairman.

15                 Thank you, Commissioner.  Great seeing 

16          you again today.  

17                 Just very briefly, you know, we have 

18          Clay Pit Pond on Staten Island, which is a 

19          wonderful state park there.  But we did have 

20          an incident where one of our local elected 

21          officials wanted to put a bridle path, and 

22          State Parks actually thought that that was a 

23          great idea, and they started to make the 

24          plans with the former Assemblyman, now a City 


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 1          Councilmember.  Lo and behold, DEC comes in 

 2          and says, Well, wait, we can't do that, 

 3          because there are some protected plants -- 

 4          and rightfully so, they said this.  

 5                 This has become a very contentious 

 6          issue now, particularly since the Staten 

 7          Island Museum, whose mission it is to protect 

 8          much of the native species on Staten Island, 

 9          spearheaded that with DEC.  It's caused a 

10          really strained relationship now with certain 

11          City Councilmembers, the Staten Island 

12          Museum, DEC, and State Parks.

13                 And I think my point is, Commissioner, 

14          when we talk about projects similar to this 

15          throughout the state, that there be -- 

16          clearly there was a disconnect between State 

17          Parks and DEC before going to the 

18          Councilmember and saying, This sounds like a 

19          great idea.

20                 So I would just -- when we have these 

21          situations, that the two agencies speak to 

22          each other first and then say yes or no, so 

23          as to avoid a situation like this from ever 

24          happening again.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  One of the 

 2          Governor's biggest priorities is no silos, 

 3          one government, one state.  And it has worked 

 4          very well.  It sounds like it didn't work in 

 5          this case, and we will make sure to do it.  

 6          And we'll look into that situation.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  I appreciate 

 8          that.  Yeah, because -- and now it's people 

 9          like me, Senator Savino and others, are 

10          trying to repair hurt feelings and things of 

11          that nature.  So it's just not, you know, 

12          earthshaking, but it is something that I 

13          think would make government work better for 

14          us all.

15                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And DEC and 

16          Parks, we overlap, we have a great 

17          relationship, and we're working on a ton of 

18          joint projects.  And I will -- Basil and I 

19          will get right together, and we'll get back 

20          to you.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  I appreciate 

22          that.  And thank you again for all your hard 

23          work.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Any 


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 1          more Senators?

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  To close.  How are 

 3          you?

 4                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Good.  Good.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Formaldehyde, 

 6          what's happening with that?  I shouldn't put 

 7          it that way.  What's happening on that?  I 

 8          know you're overlooking; it's not our problem 

 9          directly.  But what's going on?

10                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So we've been 

11          working with DEP.  DEP has actually been 

12          great.  We've got monitors all over the park.  

13          It was a one-time spike, and all the monitors 

14          are showing no additional spike.  And we're 

15          meeting with the community, and then -- and 

16          we're digging in to find --

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  You had a meeting, 

18          or you're going to have a meeting?

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Oh, no, tons of 

20          meetings.  And actually DEP did many of those 

21          community meetings.  And we haven't heard -- 

22          and you may have, but we haven't heard 

23          anything at all.  They were very satisfied 

24          with how we were going to monitor and what we 


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 1          were going to do, and then also look into the 

 2          long-term solution.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  For the record, 

 4          we're talking about Riverbank Park.

 5                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I'm sorry.  

 6          Yeah.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  No, I didn't state 

 8          it.

 9                 Oh, all right, thank you very much.  

10          You've done a lot of good there.  In the last 

11          year --

12                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So have you.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  -- you did quite a 

14          job.  But, you know, we're never -- not 

15          having enough; we'll find other things we 

16          need.

17                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Oh, I know.  And 

18          we have a great agenda for this year.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  But thank you very 

20          much for the things you've done.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

22          Commissioner Harvey.  We really appreciate 

23          your presence today.

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.  


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 1          Thank you very much.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 3                 Our next speaker is Richard Ball, 

 4          commissioner of the Department of Agriculture 

 5          and Markets.

 6                 Welcome, Commissioner.  It's great to 

 7          see you.  

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good afternoon.  

 9          It's great to see you.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Usually when we 

11          talk you're traveling somewhere in the state, 

12          as am I, so it's good to see you in person.

13                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  It's a big state.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So we look forward 

15          to your testimony.

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you so much.  

17                 Good afternoon, Chairwoman Young,  

18          Chairman Farrell, Senator Ritchie, 

19          Assemblyman Magee, members of the Ag 

20          Committees, and elected officials.  I am 

21          pleased to offer my testimony on the 

22          2016-2017 Executive Budget for the Department 

23          of Agriculture and Markets.  

24                 As the commissioner of the department 


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 1          and as a farmer, I am heartened to say that, 

 2          due to the Governor's leadership and strong 

 3          partnerships with all of you, we have 

 4          expanded New York agriculture.  

 5                 With nearly 36,000 farms across the 

 6          state, agriculture is a major driver of 

 7          upstate New York's economy.  Agriculture has 

 8          been identified in all of the upstate 

 9          Regional Economic Development Councils, and 

10          on Long Island, as a priority for economic 

11          growth.  Since 2011, the REDCs have awarded 

12          over $275 million to agribusinesses across 

13          the state.  Our beer, wine, cider, and 

14          spirits producers have grown more than 

15          150 percent in the past five years, thanks to 

16          the state's efforts to cut red tape and 

17          invest in New York's thriving beverage 

18          manufacturers.  

19                 As a result of the Agricultural Land 

20          Assessment Cap, farmers across the state paid 

21          $11 million less in agricultural property 

22          taxes in 2014, and now enjoy a more 

23          predictable property tax climate.  This helps 

24          to increase productivity and profitability on 


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 1          farms across the state.  In addition, the 

 2          historic commitment to farmland protection 

 3          last year, the increased promotion of 

 4          New York's producers through the Taste NY 

 5          initiative, and our ongoing work to connect 

 6          upstate producers to the downstate 

 7          marketplace, have helped boost our 

 8          agricultural community.  

 9                 The 2016-2017 Executive Budget 

10          recommends $153.2 million for the department, 

11          which allows us to maintain our agency's 

12          regulatory functions and to implement several 

13          key programs to further grow the agricultural 

14          industry.  The Governor proposes $6 million 

15          to promote and implement the New York State 

16          Certified High-Quality Foods initiative.  

17          This exciting new program will help consumers 

18          identify New York agricultural producers that 

19          are certified for their safe handling of food 

20          and for their environmental farm management 

21          practices.  

22                 New York Certified provides an 

23          opportunity for New York's producers to take 

24          advantage of the growing demand for safe, 


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 1          healthy, and local food.  This initiative 

 2          will also address the mislabeling of food 

 3          products through enforcement of existing 

 4          laws, promulgation of new regulations that 

 5          define certain problematic labeling terms, 

 6          and increased product sampling and testing.  

 7                 The Governor is also proposing a 

 8          historic investment in the Environmental 

 9          Protection Fund -- $300 million, which more 

10          than doubles the fund level since 2011.  This 

11          bold proposal has been met with great 

12          enthusiasm from the agricultural community.  

13          It includes funding increases to several 

14          significant programs for agriculture, such as 

15          farmland protection, the state's Soil and 

16          Water Conservation Districts programs, and 

17          for invasive species prevention.  

18                 The EPF allocation also includes a 

19          proposed $2.5 million in funding for the 

20          Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation 

21          program.  This will allow the department to 

22          build on last year's pilot program, which was 

23          created to help mitigate the environmental 

24          impact of agriculture-related activities and 


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 1          increase the resiliency of farms throughout 

 2          New York State in the face of a changing 

 3          climate.  

 4                 To further promote our homemade and 

 5          homegrown products, the Governor has set a 

 6          goal of doubling Taste NY sales.  The Taste 

 7          NY initiative has already been hugely 

 8          successful since its launch in 2013.  The 

 9          Executive Budget includes $1.1 million to 

10          expand Taste NY, with four additional stores, 

11          new concession partnerships at sports and 

12          entertainment locations, and new locations 

13          within the New York State Park system.  

14                 The department's Farm to School 

15          Program awarded funding for the first time 

16          last year to school districts and education 

17          partners to put more healthy and locally 

18          grown foods on school menus, and to 

19          strengthen connections between farms and 

20          schools.  The Governor proposes an additional 

21          $350,000 this year to expand the program and 

22          to increase the capacity of additional 

23          schools across the state to purchase from 

24          local farms.  


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 1                 In addition, in this new year we will 

 2          see a greater focus on anti-hunger issues in 

 3          the state, with the establishment of the 

 4          New York State Council on Hunger and Food 

 5          Policy.  As commissioner, I will be proud to 

 6          chair the council, whose role will be to 

 7          advise the state on policies and programs to 

 8          improve access to healthy, locally grown 

 9          food.  

10                 The Governor has proposed a host of 

11          initiatives in this year's Executive Budget 

12          proposal that will have a significant effect 

13          on New York's agricultural industry by 

14          reducing overall business costs.  

15          Approximately 1.1 million small businesses, 

16          including farms, will benefit from the 

17          Governor's proposed $300 million small 

18          business tax cut.  The elimination of Thruway 

19          tolls for farmers using E-ZPass is estimated 

20          to save the agricultural sector $5 million 

21          annually.  In addition, expanding a tax cut 

22          for breweries to include cideries, wineries, 

23          and distilleries would provide $2 million in 

24          savings, allowing our beverage producers to 


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 1          reinvest in and grow their operations.  

 2                 This is tremendous news for our 

 3          farmers and producers.  I'm confident all of 

 4          the proposals laid out today will leverage 

 5          the good work of the industry for an even 

 6          stronger agricultural economy.  I'd be happy 

 7          to answer any questions that you have at this 

 8          time.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

10          Commissioner.  

11                 I'd like to call on the chair of the 

12          Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Patty 

13          Ritchie.

14                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Good afternoon, 

15          Commissioner.

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Senator.

17                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  I'd like to just 

18          start off by saying I appreciate the time you 

19          spent with me in my office earlier this week 

20          to talk about the budget, it is because of 

21          that that I'll keep my questions fairly 

22          short.  

23                 Much of the Aid to Localities has been 

24          cut out of this budget this year, and I know 


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 1          the Senate believes that those programs are 

 2          extremely important to the farmers and 

 3          continuing to grow their business.  In the 

 4          past, the Executive has been supportive of 

 5          making sure those programs are contained in 

 6          the final budget.  Could you tell me your 

 7          feelings on these programs and whether you 

 8          believe that the Executive will be supportive 

 9          in the end?

10                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I think we have, 

11          at the core here, an excellent budget to help 

12          carry out our core mission at the department.  

13          It's been very exciting to be a part of so 

14          many good things that are happening in 

15          agriculture right now.  And I think as you 

16          and I discussed, and I think we completely 

17          agree, there's a number of items on the local 

18          assistance budget that are critical to 

19          agriculture.  And I certainly look forward 

20          working with you and seeing how we can do an 

21          even better job on those items in this budget 

22          process.

23                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  As far as the market 

24          orders that are proposed to be transferred to 


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 1          ESD, and also Pro-Dairy being transferred to 

 2          the EPF fund, I have a couple of concerns 

 3          there.  

 4                 First of all, on the market orders, I 

 5          have never heard a complaint from the 

 6          industry on market orders, so I'm fearful of 

 7          allowing that to happen, given the fact that 

 8          we have no complaints and that we want it to 

 9          continue to move as easily as possible.  So 

10          that's a concern.  

11                 And second, given the fact there are a 

12          number of competing interests under the EPF 

13          moving Pro-Dairy, which is an important 

14          program for agriculture, to complete in that, 

15          is that also concerns me.

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Okay.  With 

17          regards to the market orders, that is the 

18          industry's money, really.  You know, that's 

19          market-based and the money basically flows 

20          through our department.  We chair advisory 

21          committees and oversee what they do with the 

22          money and pay attention to that.  I think 

23          this is largely a great synergy and a great 

24          cooperative effort between us and our 


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 1          partners at Empire State Development.  

 2          They've got great fiscal and great marketing 

 3          capacity there.  

 4                 And we're still going to stay involved 

 5          with the market orders, we're going to 

 6          monitor them.  The growers will still talk 

 7          with us.  But it shifts some of the burden of 

 8          that regulatory part onto Empire State 

 9          Development where they have the capacity to 

10          do it.  

11                 We have a pretty good history of 

12          working with Empire State Development.  We do 

13          more things with them every year.  They've 

14          been partners with us on tourism and 

15          agri-tourism, Taste NY, and our branding 

16          program going forward, New York Certified.  

17          So I think it's a good synergy for us, 

18          frankly.  I don't think our growers will 

19          notice a difference in how their market 

20          orders perform.  

21                 With regards to the EPF, you know, we 

22          saw the opportunity and the Governor made a 

23          big commitment to the Environmental 

24          Protection Fund.  And I think looking at 


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 1          things that are environmentally focused in 

 2          our budget frankly gives them a solid line 

 3          over there at the EPF, and I think it's a 

 4          good fit.  

 5                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  And I would like to 

 6          ask a question about Cornell, which is our 

 7          land grant university.  You know, I believe 

 8          Cornell is very important to the state and 

 9          helps us compete, is responsible for 

10          cutting-edge research.  And, you know, in the 

11          past years we haven't really kept up with the 

12          demand.  I know research is critically 

13          important.  The vet school is full.  I'm just 

14          wondering your feelings on whether we are 

15          putting enough resources to help prop up 

16          Cornell or if that's something we should 

17          definitely be looking at.

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  You know, we're so 

19          fortunate in New York State, when I think 

20          about the resources we have in our state, in 

21          our land, in our grower community, in our 

22          access to water.  But I think also in our 

23          access to, you know, one of the best land 

24          grant schools in the United States and 


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 1          clearly a leader in food safety.  We need 

 2          more from Cornell as we go forward, not less.  

 3                 And I think that these are discussions 

 4          that we have with the dean, and I think 

 5          Cornell is beginning to feel like a second 

 6          home to me.  We have great conversations with 

 7          them about how we accomplish this.  Certainly 

 8          we need to do a lot more work with Cornell.

 9                 You know, we're talking an awful lot 

10          about growing our marketplace in New York.  

11          That takes more than just putting more things 

12          on the shelves.  It takes growing the parking 

13          lot, which is our marketing, and growing our 

14          back room and our warehousing, but it's going 

15          to need more research, more applied research 

16          to help us stay in front of our consumers.  

17                 So I agree with you, look forward to 

18          working with you on that very much.

19                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Just recently the 

20          Governor has invested a lot of money in the 

21          state fairgrounds.  We have so much need in 

22          local fairgrounds across the state and have 

23          had no capital funds there.  That's something 

24          that is I think a concern for many of us.  


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 1          And, you know, once again, I'd like to hear 

 2          your feelings on whether you think our local 

 3          fairs are important and if we need capital 

 4          funding to help make sure that they can stay 

 5          viable.

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  Our State 

 7          Fair and our local fairs are both such 

 8          important points of contact today between 

 9          agriculture and the public.  Farmers 

10          represent about 1 percent of the population 

11          right now.  That means 99 percent is off the 

12          farm.  So here's a great point of contact 

13          between those two communities.  And that's so 

14          important that we take care of that 

15          opportunity and make it a positive 

16          experience. 

17                 So we're hearing from the county 

18          fairs, we talk with them quite often.  As you 

19          know, I get to go to quite a lot of county 

20          fairs and get to talk to a lot of folks.  

21          Many of you have escorted me around your 

22          county fairs.  I appreciate that.  And I 

23          would agree that they could use an uplift, 

24          they could use a little help there, and I'd 


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 1          be happy to speak with you about that and 

 2          hear your thoughts about that, very much so.

 3                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  And last but not 

 4          least, Farm Bureau came out earlier this week 

 5          saying that it's going to cost farmers half a 

 6          billion dollars with the minimum wage 

 7          increase.  Especially now with milk prices 

 8          being low, we're trying to grow our 

 9          number-one industry and we don't want to do 

10          anything that's going to set them back.  

11                 So could you tell me how you think our 

12          farmers are going to deal with the minimum 

13          wage increase?  

14                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I got the same 

15          email yesterday also from Farm Bureau.  And 

16          as you know, I'm pretty close with Farm 

17          Bureau, pay a lot of attention to their 

18          thoughts.

19                 Let me just say the Governor has 

20          stated, and I would agree, that a reasonable 

21          minimum wage can help lift the standard of 

22          living for all workers.  Recognize that the 

23          proposal currently is an installment plan for 

24          this, that in upstate it would be different 


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 1          from downstate, and that by 2021 we're 

 2          looking at full implementation.

 3                 I think for us at the department, 

 4          while a change is being contemplated here, my 

 5          focus is going to remain on ways that we can 

 6          cut costs for farmers, ways that we can 

 7          improve the viability of farms in New York 

 8          State.  As you know, on a business statement, 

 9          income and expense sheet, there are two 

10          sides.  There's a lot of lines, and there's 

11          two sides.  And so if we can eliminate tolls 

12          on the Thruway, if we can cut property taxes, 

13          if we can look at our tax assessments, if we 

14          can make life easier for our farmers, if we 

15          can open more markets in the city, if we can 

16          open up more profitable markets for our 

17          farmers, then we're going to work in that 

18          direction.

19                 I would add that as we go forward, 

20          recognizing that we need more workers in 

21          agriculture, not less, that we need more 

22          skilled workers in our new plants and our new 

23          industries, that we're going to need a 

24          particular focus on our rural youth.  And I 


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 1          think this is something that's a little bit 

 2          passionate for me, because I was a rural 

 3          youth at one time looking for a job on a 

 4          farm.  And I think we're having some very 

 5          exciting conversations with our Department of 

 6          Labor about how we do that.  The Governor put 

 7          in place an Urban Youth Program which has 

 8          been pretty successful, and I would like to 

 9          see our conversations about a rural youth 

10          program take hold.  And again, great 

11          conversations going on with the Department of 

12          Labor about that, about apprenticeships, and 

13          about training that can carry us forward.

14                 I'm hearing from farmers and I'm 

15          hearing from Farm Bureau and really we're 

16          hearing on all sides of the issue about how 

17          this will affect upstate New York, and we 

18          continue to monitor that and look at how the 

19          potential impacts will fall out.  But we 

20          certainly want to hear your thoughts on that 

21          as well.

22                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  I'd just like to 

23          close by saying that you are keenly aware of 

24          the issue that we're having with the aging 


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 1          farmer.  It's been one of the Senate's 

 2          priorities to try to encourage young farmers 

 3          into looking at agriculture as a field.  And 

 4          I know with this minimum wage proposal I've 

 5          received numerous calls from farmers saying 

 6          they don't know how they're going to meet 

 7          their bottom line if $15 goes into effect.  

 8                 And so I would just ask that you 

 9          seriously look at the effect that's going to 

10          have and that we try to stay the course and 

11          protect our farms and be really aware, keenly 

12          aware of issues that may actually keep farms 

13          from growing and have the adverse effect.

14                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.  

15          Absolutely.

16                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Thank you.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

18                 Assembly?  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

20                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Magee, 

21          chairman of Agriculture.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Thank you, 

23          Mr. Chairman.  

24                 And thank you, Commissioner, for 


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 1          coming and talking with us today.  And I know 

 2          you've been many places in the state.  I 

 3          happened to be with you several times, and 

 4          it's always very productive.

 5                 I do have a question, though.  What 

 6          are the department's priorities in 

 7          agricultural education, marketing and 

 8          research? 

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, with regards 

10          to education, we're having, as I mentioned, 

11          those conversations with our Department of 

12          Labor about training and apprenticeships.  I 

13          think that certainly when we get our young 

14          people to Cornell, when we get our young 

15          people to any of our land grant schools, we 

16          do a great job, we do a really great job of 

17          getting them prepared to enter the world of 

18          agriculture today.

19                 But I see a need to get more young 

20          people in the pipeline heading that way and 

21          understanding that agriculture can be an 

22          opportunity and a viable way to make a living 

23          here in New York State.

24                 I had occasion a few years ago in 


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 1          Schoharie, in my town -- Schoharie Central 

 2          School's about a mile and a half from our 

 3          farm, and I walked in there to be part of a 

 4          committee that was working on school 

 5          nutrition.  And I looked around at the menu 

 6          in the cafeteria, and there was not one thing 

 7          on the menu that came from the Schoharie 

 8          Valley, which is arguably a pretty special 

 9          vegetable-growing region area in the State of 

10          New York and known throughout the Northeast.  

11                 But what bothered me more than that 

12          was that those young people were going to 

13          grow up, they were going to get educated, 

14          they were going to graduate from that school 

15          and they would leave the county and not know 

16          what kind of opportunity they had right in 

17          our own county if they didn't know what I did 

18          a mile and a half up the road, if they didn't 

19          know what my neighboring farm did four miles 

20          down the road or 10 miles down the road.  

21                 So I think we need to do a better job 

22          with our young people in high school, better 

23          ag education, and open up that possibility 

24          thinking there that agriculture is a good way 


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 1          to make a living in New York State for that 

 2          next generation.

 3                 With regards to research, I would say 

 4          that, as I mentioned with Senator Ritchie, 

 5          Cornell and our land grant system, all our ag 

 6          and tech schools around the state, do such a 

 7          great job that we need to make sure that 

 8          remains viable as well.  And, you know, the 

 9          applied research that we need on the farms to 

10          stay competitive with the country and the 

11          world today is going to be so critical.

12                 As far as marketing, I'm pretty 

13          excited about what we're doing in marketing, 

14          you know, between Taste NY and between this 

15          new New York Certified program, I think we've 

16          got a great opportunity to take our growers 

17          and connect them with the biggest marketplace 

18          in the country and gain some great success 

19          there.  I think climate change gives us an 

20          opportunity to take back some of the market 

21          share that has belonged to the western part 

22          of the United States.  So I think we're in a 

23          good place in New York State in that regard.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  In the Governor's 


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 1          proposed budget there was a significant 

 2          reduction in the Farm Viability Institute.  

 3          Do you have any idea on what effect that 

 4          might have, if any?  

 5                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  The Farm Viability 

 6          Institute got some of its funding moved out 

 7          of where it is.  But I think the Farm 

 8          Viability Institute is probably one of the 

 9          things I'm most proud about at the 

10          department, frankly, our role there.  That's, 

11          as you understand it, started with the farm 

12          bill as a block grant, and they set 

13          themselves up.  It's a group of farmers who 

14          are specialized in each one of their 

15          commodities who serve as reviewers, and 

16          funding goes there, requests go there, to do 

17          research on agricultural issues.  And farmers 

18          themselves decide what's important to them, 

19          what's relevant to them.

20                 This past year we were able to take 

21          some of our specialty block grant money from 

22          the farm bill and give that to the Farm 

23          Viability Institute to actually carry out the 

24          research.  What better group to figure out 


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 1          what research was needed, necessary and 

 2          relevant than them?  So I'm a big fan of the 

 3          Farm Viability Institute.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Good.  What is the 

 5          state of the Agriculture Producers Security 

 6          program?  Are there dealer defaults, and will 

 7          there be money to cover them if there are?  

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  As you know, 

 9          that's a security fund for our dairy 

10          producers.  It's in great shape, it's 

11          healthy, and it's ready.  We monitor every 

12          day what's going on with that fund and -- I'm 

13          sorry?  We monitor what's going on with that 

14          fund on a daily basis and look at their 

15          cooperatives, make sure our dairy farmers are 

16          being paid.  In the event of a default, we 

17          have the insurance there to make them whole 

18          again.  

19                 If an issue comes up with a producer 

20          or with a cooperative or with a processor, we 

21          stay on top of that and get updated on that 

22          daily.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Thank you, 

24          Commissioner.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you, 

 2          Assemblyman.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 4          much.

 5                 Our next speaker is Senator Diane 

 6          Savino.

 7                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Actually, Senator 

 8          Young, Senator Ritchie asked the question 

 9          that I wanted to ask of Commissioner Ball, so 

10          I no longer need to ask him.  

11                 But welcome to the committee.  Nice to 

12          see you again, Richard.

13                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good to see you 

14          again, Senator.  

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, very good.  

16          Then I think I'll let Senator Krueger go 

17          ahead.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Nice to 

19          see you, Richard.  Thank you.

20                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good to see you.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  We have only five 

22          minutes, so I'm going to try to be quick.  

23                 Your testimony talks about the REDCs 

24          have awarded over 275 million to 


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 1          agribusinesses across the state.  Not right 

 2          now, but can you provide me a list of those 

 3          grants and if there's any data yet on the 

 4          effectiveness of their being used?  

 5                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 7                 About, I think, six months ago now you 

 8          and I had a conversation about the concerns 

 9          about the dying pollinators in New York 

10          State, the bee issues, the monarch 

11          butterflies, and you informed me that there 

12          was a task force that I believe you were a 

13          cochair of that was just about to have its 

14          first meeting.

15                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  You remembered.

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Can you tell me 

17          where we all are, now that the task force has 

18          been operating?  

19                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes.  Thank you.  

20          Thank you for remembering that.  

21                 Yes, the Governor charged myself and 

22          the commissioner at DEC to cochair a 

23          pollinator task force, and we did so.  We 

24          held three pretty significant meetings at the 


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 1          department and we took in reams of paper, of 

 2          comments by email, from their constituents 

 3          from the people that were there.  We brought 

 4          in the beekeeper community, we brought in our 

 5          honey producers, we brought in our farmers, 

 6          we brought in Audubon Society and Nature 

 7          conservancy and, oh, my gosh, Cornell.  We 

 8          brought in just about everybody we could 

 9          think of that had a stake in pollinator 

10          health, including our own agencies -- Parks 

11          and DOT were also there -- because we own, in 

12          the state, quite a bit of land when you 

13          consider what the Thruway has, what DEC has 

14          in forests, and what Parks has.  

15                 And we looked at the range of issues 

16          that are affecting pollinators.  As you know, 

17          this is a nationwide concern.  Pollinators do 

18          an awful lot of work in New York to pollinate 

19          our crops.  And it's also a viable business 

20          on its own, just producing honey in New York 

21          State.  We have an apiculture advisory 

22          committee to the commissioner that exists, 

23          and they were also there.

24                 So we sat down and we listened to the 


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 1          wide range of issues that everyone felt were 

 2          affecting pollinators, and it went on quite a 

 3          lot, it was pretty extensive.  At the end of 

 4          the day, we had produced a pollinator plan 

 5          for New York State which consists of best 

 6          management practices for our beekeepers, for 

 7          our landowners, for farmers, for our 

 8          pesticide applicators, and for state 

 9          government in its management of land.

10                 There's probably six or eight issues 

11          that are very big in pollinator health.  

12          Cornell was there, and obviously we're going 

13          to need some more research on the subject.  

14          But basically -- and we see this as a dynamic 

15          plan.  It's been worked over.  It's currently 

16          sitting on my desk, needs to be approved 

17          by the cochairs and then out to the 

18          committees.  But what we have done is put 

19          together good management practices for all 

20          those stakeholders and things we can do 

21          quickly to improve pollinators.

22                 For example, in our state lands, you 

23          know, one of the issues with pollinators is 

24          forage quality, the lack of good forage 


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 1          quality for our bees to keep them healthy.  

 2          And so we are looking at ways we can manage 

 3          forage in our state lands -- along the 

 4          Thruway, in our parks, on farms.  We have CRP 

 5          lands, we have buffer strips.  Even in 

 6          New York City we have parks where pollinators 

 7          frequently are migratory; how they can find 

 8          refuge on their way from wherever they are, 

 9          coming across the urban areas, and continue 

10          on to where we need them.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Can your office get 

12          us copies of the report?  Or it's not signed 

13          off on yet.

14                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  No, we'll 

15          absolutely do that.  Absolutely do that.

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I'd appreciate that.  

17          I'm only cutting you off because I see one 

18          minute left for me, and I have too many 

19          questions.  

20                 So last year the state put $25 million 

21          in to protect the continuation of farmland in 

22          the mid-Hudson Valley.  And then there was 

23          also some older money in Ag & Markets that 

24          was also released to protect and keep land in 


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 1          farming in New York State.  Have we moved 

 2          that money out?  

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes, we've taken 

 4          applications now in the Hudson Valley for 

 5          that money, and some good news to report on 

 6          that front.  That Hudson Valley money was 

 7          specific to that region.  We did have a 

 8          statewide program going on already.  

 9                 And I have to brag just a little bit, 

10          but last year we had two plans in Saratoga 

11          County that we were able to get the work 

12          done, start to finish, in a very short period 

13          of time that traditionally took four years 

14          from the time of beginning to the time of 

15          end, when a check actually changed hands.  

16          Those two farms in Saratoga this past year 

17          were done in six months.  I think that was a 

18          little overachievement, probably, but we're 

19          certainly looking to cutting the time down at 

20          least in half.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And I know the 

22          clock's at zero, so don't answer.  I'll just 

23          ask the question, you can follow up.  

24                 Have we been able to expand the amount 


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 1          of New York State produce going into our 

 2          school schools through your Farm to School 

 3          Program?  

 4                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay.  We'll follow 

 6          up on that one.

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes, please do.  

 8          Please do.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator 

11          Krueger.  Thank you, Commissioner.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblywoman 

13          Russell.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  Thank you, 

15          Mr. Chair.  

16                 And welcome, Commissioner.  It's great 

17          to see you again.

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Great to see you.  

19          Thank you.  

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  I really enjoyed 

21          your testimony.  And as the chair of the 

22          Assembly's task force on Food, Farm and 

23          Nutrition, you and I have had several 

24          discussions about moving a number of these 


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 1          initiatives ahead.

 2                 Before I focus on one particular 

 3          issue, I'd first of all just like to start 

 4          off by saying that the relief from Thruway 

 5          tolls for farmers that was put in the 

 6          budget -- that's really not maybe a part of 

 7          your testimony, it's in another block -- it 

 8          certainly helps agriculture.  And I was very 

 9          happy to see that we're still trying to make 

10          progress in that area, as I live a pretty far 

11          distance away from major markets, and so 

12          transportation costs are always a concern for 

13          my farmers, and the Thruway tolls are a 

14          component of that.

15                 I was also happy that you touched on 

16          the need to look at the farming industry, you 

17          know, maybe specifically when we talk about 

18          the minimum wage increase.  Many of us are 

19          concerned about the impact of the minimum 

20          wage increase on specific sectors in our 

21          communities such as the not-for-profit 

22          community, and I would hold our farming 

23          community up in the same regard as the level 

24          of concern that I have in implementing the 


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 1          increase in minimum wage -- which I 

 2          wholeheartedly support.  But your remarks 

 3          that, you know, maybe we should look at ways 

 4          that we can ensure that they are able to 

 5          support that type of wage are encouraging.  

 6          Looking at the tax structure that our farmers 

 7          have, they're essentially supporting our 

 8          school districts in many parts of the state.  

 9          And also perhaps some energy cost programs, 

10          things like that that may be able to impact 

11          the bottom line of our farmers so that they 

12          can attract the workforce that they need, not 

13          just for now but for tomorrow.

14                 But in addition to that, I'd like to 

15          delve into a couple of areas that I think 

16          intersect that have to do with education  and 

17          marketing and also manufacturing, value-added 

18          processing in our ag industry.  And I thought 

19          maybe I would start off by asking if the 

20          criteria for the Farm to School grants that 

21          were awarded in the current year's budget 

22          that we're in, would the criteria change?  It 

23          was my understanding that those grants were 

24          for staff members to really kind of get 


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 1          schooled up, so to speak, on how to integrate 

 2          more local products into their schools, and 

 3          also equipment upgrades.  Is that what we 

 4          envision for this pot of money?  

 5                 And also some clarifications.  I see 

 6          in my briefing material that it's a proposal 

 7          for $250,000 and your testimony I think said 

 8          $350,000.

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Right.  On the 

10          last point first, we're going to take 

11          $100,000 out of our specialty block grant 

12          money at the federal level to boost that up a 

13          little bit more.

14                 Yeah, I think initially we were 

15          thinking how can we make Farm to School work 

16          better in school districts.  We have some 

17          just glaring examples of great, great things 

18          that have happened around the state, and 

19          they've largely been successful because a 

20          group of school districts got together and 

21          figured out how to buy together and buy 

22          quantities together, and then farmers were 

23          able to respond by shipping larger 

24          quantities, more significant quantities, more 


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 1          efficient quantities, to a distribution point 

 2          where they were then relegated where they 

 3          needed to be.  

 4                 So initially we envisioned that as a 

 5          great way to help particularly upstate school 

 6          districts that were rural in nature to better 

 7          take advantage of Farm to School.  That was 

 8          our vision.  We had the grants fully 

 9          subscribed this year.  And we are going to 

10          look at a slightly different criteria as we 

11          go forward.  There are needs in the kitchen, 

12          there are skills that need to be taught in 

13          the kitchen again in our schools, and we have 

14          some just awesome proposals that -- I think 

15          we had almost $2 million in requests that 

16          were so awesome that it caused us to look 

17          back at how we can write the grant proposals 

18          in a way that will fit more school districts.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  Well, $2 million 

20          in requests obviously shows the desire of our 

21          school districts to participate in Farm to 

22          School programs.  But the largest feedback I 

23          hear is that they really still don't have the 

24          buying power.  The state's reimbursement rate 


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 1          for the school lunch program has sat at 

 2          6 cents per meal for over 40 years.  And I'm 

 3          sure you're familiar with the drive for 

 4          25 cents that many of us are working on, from 

 5          the agriculture sector to the schools to the 

 6          economic development folks of trying to 

 7          provide the funding actually for the school 

 8          districts to be able to afford to buy food 

 9          that's produced in New York State -- and that 

10          hopefully will be New York State Certified as 

11          that program rolls out.  And frankly, the 

12          Certified program is likely to help farmers 

13          be able to scale up if we were able to 

14          provide funding to our school districts to be 

15          able to afford the food that's produced right 

16          in their own back yard.

17                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  And so, you 

19          know, I think that as we're building upon 

20          these programs, I'd really like us to, you 

21          know, think about a program that builds on 

22          the New York City program of New York 

23          Thursdays.  You know, I'm from the upstate 

24          perspective, and I think we should eat local 


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 1          every day.  And so, you know, providing that 

 2          ability for our schools to actually afford to 

 3          buy the products and to stimulate the economy 

 4          as a result.  I mean, if you're only buying 

 5          New York products, it's going to a New York 

 6          business that then has the ability to 

 7          reinvest.  And with a relatively -- you know, 

 8          as we're talking about markets, our school 

 9          districts should be seen as a market.  Not 

10          just a place where we need to educate our 

11          children about agriculture, but as a market, 

12          and to get them hooked on the taste of our 

13          fresh New York products at the school level 

14          and then as they grow to adulthood.

15                 And I know my time is up, but I wanted 

16          to circle back that, you know, you're doing 

17          this education component and you're providing 

18          this support to agriculture and, you know, 

19          we're looking at schoolchildren as a market 

20          and our schools as a market -- this is really 

21          an economic investment that we would be 

22          looking at, because it would have such a 

23          transformational impact that I know that the 

24          Governor has been supporting throughout the 


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 1          ag sector in New York State.  That, you know, 

 2          I have one business alone that's got a $20 

 3          million project in the queue that would only 

 4          be able to impact a very small amount of the 

 5          1.7 million lunches that are served in this 

 6          state.  So the economic opportunity is I 

 7          think probably the place we put this, but in 

 8          cooperation with all your programs.  

 9                 Thank you.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

11                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator?  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I'd 

14          like to go next.  

15                 And, Commissioner, you and I have 

16          known each other a long time.  You know, we 

17          worked together when I was chair of the 

18          Senate Agriculture Committee.  You know I 

19          grew up on a farm, you know how important 

20          agriculture is not only to my Senate district 

21          but the entire economy of New York State 

22          because of what we're able to produce and 

23          grow and create jobs and prosperity through 

24          agriculture and all things that we do.


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 1                 I wanted to associate myself with some 

 2          of the remarks by Senator Ritchie, who is our 

 3          Ag chair.  Senator Ritchie brought up 

 4          concerns about the market order 

 5          administration.  And I appreciated your 

 6          response very well.  I know you have worked 

 7          well with Empire State Development.  As you 

 8          also rightly pointed out, that producers have 

 9          part of their gross profits fund this 

10          research and marketing that goes on.  

11                 And so there's a little bit of 

12          trepidation I think not only within the 

13          Legislature but also within the agricultural 

14          community about what this would mean because 

15          of the traditional role that Ag & Markets has  

16          had on these issues.  And I would just ask 

17          that we have further conversations about this 

18          particular proposal, number one.

19                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Absolutely.  For 

20          sure.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

22                 The second thing is the Certified 

23          High-Quality Initiative.  And I know the 

24          Governor spoke of those initiatives during 


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 1          the State of the State and his budget 

 2          address, and he had a series of actions that 

 3          he'd like to conduct.  And you did address a 

 4          portion of it because you did say that the 

 5          increased farmer training would be covered by 

 6          a $4 million allocation through the 

 7          Environmental Protection Fund.  

 8                 But there are a series of other 

 9          actions that the Governor has proposed, such 

10          as developing a good agricultural practices 

11          certified seal to signal proper environmental 

12          practices, develop an ad campaign to promote 

13          the seal, develop enforcement mechanisms for 

14          the program, increase monitoring, 

15          inspections, testing capacity of the state, 

16          we'll work with the Regional Economic 

17          Development Councils to invest in food hubs, 

18          we'll invest in farmers opting to convert to 

19          organic grain production.

20                 And Division of Budget has stated that 

21          there's no additional funding for these 

22          undertakings, which is why it's not included 

23          in the State Budget.  However, when you go 

24          through this list, it suggests that there 


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 1          will be expenditures that will be necessary 

 2          in order to implement such a program.

 3                 So my question is, what resources will 

 4          be used then if there's nothing included in 

 5          the State Budget in order to implement the 

 6          Governor's proposal?  

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  Thank you.  

 8          Great question.  

 9                 As you identify, there's basically 

10          five tenets to this program, and you ticked 

11          them off very well.  There is some money; we 

12          have about $6 million to move this project 

13          forward.  And you mentioned the $4 million in 

14          the EPF.  This is aimed at environmental 

15          management plans for our farms.

16                 Basically what this brand will mean 

17          when people see this brand is that the farm 

18          employed good agricultural practices.  That's 

19          a USDA-certified thing.  That means the farm 

20          has trained its workers in hygiene, that 

21          their water has been tested, that there's a 

22          cold chain from the field to the consumer.  

23          Good agricultural practices is a bona fide, 

24          audited, accredited item, and training for 


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 1          that is what we already do at the department.

 2                 And the aim component, the second 

 3          component of getting this seal, which is 

 4          voluntary, is that there's a nutrient 

 5          management plan on the farm, an environmental 

 6          plan.  And this is where, you know, the 

 7          training comes into our farms that don't have 

 8          it.  We currently ask this of our dairy 

 9          farmers, of course, already.  So now we're 

10          looking at adding our fruit and vegetable 

11          industries to this.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you're saying 

13          there's funding through USDA to accomplish 

14          this?

15                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  No, through the 

16          EPF.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Through the EPF.  

18          So 4 million --

19                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  And nutrient 

20          management planning.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  And that 

22          $4 million will cover all of these 

23          activities?  

24                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  A lot of it.  The 


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 1          gap training, there is funding from USDA to 

 2          help us do that.  

 3                 Now, there is $2 million in there for 

 4          branding and marketing, which Empire State 

 5          Development -- again, our partners there -- 

 6          will be helping us to market this idea and 

 7          this brand.

 8                 The monitoring and the increased 

 9          monitoring, we're currently -- our partners 

10          at Department of Health, who have a real 

11          interest in nutrition, obviously, and the 

12          health of our food, we already overlap in 

13          this jurisdiction here of food safety.  And 

14          we are going to, in an MOU with them, which 

15          we've prepared jointly, do testing and 

16          monitoring of what's in the marketplace, 

17          what's on the label, is it really what it 

18          says it is on the label for our consumers.  

19                 So I think with our existing 

20          capacities and merging them together, the 

21          synergies of monitoring and labeling, we'll 

22          be able to achieve that.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

24                 I want to congratulate you on the 


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 1          expansion of the Taste NY program.  I've said 

 2          for years that New York State should market 

 3          itself as the food state because of what we 

 4          offer through agriculture and we have 

 5          everything, as you know.  You know, it's 

 6          dairy and yogurt and wine and grapes and all 

 7          kinds of fruits and vegetables and craft 

 8          breweries and now distilleries.  And you 

 9          couple that with the fact that we have some 

10          of the best restaurants and chefs in the 

11          entire world, and when you put that all 

12          together, I think it provides a remarkable 

13          opportunity to rebrand the state, you know, 

14          tie it together with tourism, and really 

15          promote it.

16                 So you're well on your way to doing 

17          that.  And I would ask that we even look at 

18          that further and see what else we can do, 

19          because we've got it all in New York State.  

20          We're very, very fortunate, as you know.

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And let's continue 

23          to bring that prosperity not just to 

24          agriculture but, you know, to all of our 


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 1          communities through tourism, our small 

 2          businesses and so on.  So thank you.  

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Oh, absolutely.  

 4          Thank you.  We'd welcome that.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 Didi Barrett.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Good 

 8          afternoon.  It's not evening yet.  

 9                 Thank you for being here and thank you 

10          for your leadership and thank you for all the 

11          work you've done to connect upstate and 

12          downstate and include the Hudson Valley, 

13          which is kind of in the middle of the state, 

14          in that process.  And also especially, 

15          obviously, last year for the $20 million for 

16          the Hudson Valley's farmland protection.  

17          We're very excited that that is underway.  

18                 I just wanted to -- I heard what you 

19          said about the two Saratoga projects.  But I 

20          know there's been concern about the length of 

21          time it's taken, and obviously a lot of these 

22          farms have been waiting way longer than they 

23          should to be able to access this process.  

24                 Have you added staff, or is there a 


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 1          timetable that you're hoping to be able to 

 2          turn these things around in that, you know, 

 3          that we can go back and reassure people that 

 4          there's adequate staff, there's a game plan 

 5          here, it's not going to be like the bad old 

 6          days?  

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  It's not the bad 

 8          old days, no.  We have a Governor who's made 

 9          a commitment consistently to do that.  

10                 And part of the challenge earlier was 

11          that, you know, there was some money and then 

12          we went for years when there was no more 

13          money.  And so we weren't used to doing this.  

14                 We have a great staff.  And last year 

15          we brought in all the stakeholders, all the 

16          land trusts, and we said, okay, how does it 

17          work on your end, what kind of things do you 

18          need from us, and we kind of had a Lean 

19          process together.  And I think between 

20          simplifying some of the forms, some of the 

21          timing of it, it was a big help.  

22                 The reason why the recent awards have 

23          been able to happen quicker is I think 

24          because we were better prepared at the 


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 1          department through our efficiencies.  But I 

 2          think the land trusts were also better 

 3          prepared:  What do we need, and they knew 

 4          what we needed, and they had it.  

 5                 And I think the third very important 

 6          part of that was that our farmers were ready.  

 7          If it takes four years, so many things can 

 8          happen in a farm in less than a year.  And 

 9          timing is so important there.  You know, life 

10          decisions get made.  

11                 And so I think the farmers were ready, 

12          you know, the land trust was ready, we were 

13          ready.  And you know, hopefully as we get 

14          into a regular routine --

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Do you have a 

16          time frame that you think that, you know, the 

17          process should take now at this point?

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, we were 

19          excited about six months.  And my staff right 

20          now is wiggling in their chairs because they 

21          think that's too dramatic a target.  But 

22          certainly, you know, four years is too long.  

23          We want to get it done within two years, 

24          certainly.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Two years, is 

 2          that --

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  They're telling me 

 4          to be more cautious.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  All right, 

 6          thank you.  

 7                 I also was interested that my 

 8          colleagues were asking about minimum wage, 

 9          because obviously hearing about that in 

10          relation to farmers -- and I appreciate your 

11          thoughtful approach.  I don't know if you're 

12          at all exploring some longer extended program 

13          for farmers where, you know, it might take 

14          longer depending on the size of their farm or 

15          some of those kinds of things.  

16                 But I also wanted to get your thoughts 

17          on how the $15 minimum wage -- and, you know, 

18          I support it and obviously everybody needs to 

19          have a living wage here -- but how that would 

20          work with the federal programs, which are 

21          kind of already structured and, you know, a 

22          lot of our farmers are working with those 

23          programs and, you know, it's kind of an 

24          apples and oranges thing.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah, really with 

 2          regards to the federal programs, whatever New 

 3          York State does, we already exceed the 

 4          federal programs with regards to that.

 5                 I think that, you know, the discussion 

 6          about minimum wage will involve all of you in 

 7          our process as we go forward.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Okay.  And I 

 9          especially want to thank the Governor and you 

10          for your input on the Thruway tolls.  

11          Obviously this was a bill I carried and 

12          passed for three years, and I'm very happy to 

13          see it in the budget and hope we'll be able 

14          to get it through.

15                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thanks so much.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Thank you.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

18                 Next we have Senator O'Mara.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  

20                 Good afternoon, Commissioner, and 

21          thank you for your efforts and your getting 

22          around the state personally, visiting many 

23          areas.  I know you're on the road a lot, and 

24          we certainly appreciate seeing you around and 


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 1          seeing you in the Southern Tier and the 

 2          Finger Lakes region.  

 3                 I want to thank you and the department 

 4          and the Governor for their outstanding work 

 5          on the craft beverage industry in recent 

 6          years.  And it's all, I think, a credit to 

 7          cutting the red tape, as you said in your 

 8          opening statements, to reducing regulations.  

 9          Streamlining application processes and 

10          combining different types of applications and 

11          permits together have certainly shown great 

12          gains in the industry.  

13                 And I only bring that up as a point 

14          and a message, maybe not so much to you, but 

15          to the Governor:  See the success we've had 

16          in regulation and red-tape cutting in this 

17          industry.  Let's try that in some other 

18          industries and see how productive we can be 

19          in the state, because this has certainly 

20          shown great gains in that regard.

21                 With regards to the Thruway tolls 

22          elimination for farmers and agricultural 

23          products, there's been raised complaints, 

24          concerns by farmers of the weight limit 


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 1          restrictions on vehicles and that many of the 

 2          vehicles that they operate getting goods to 

 3          market, and particularly some of the larger 

 4          ones that are taking goods down to farmers 

 5          markets in New York City, their vehicles are 

 6          going to be excluded from this by weight 

 7          limits.  Are you getting that input as well?

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I've heard some 

 9          comments to that effect.  Let's talk about 

10          that.

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Do the Thruway toll 

12          exemptions for ag products -- will that 

13          include forestry products, do you know?

14                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  They will.

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I believe so.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Because there 

18          certainly, I think, will be weight 

19          restriction concerns with that type of 

20          transportation as well.

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  Yeah.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, with regards to 

23          the minimum wage -- and I certainly 

24          understand that this one is way above your 


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 1          pay grade.  Would you advocate for an 

 2          exemption for --

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Was that a pun?  

 4          Was that a pun?

 5                 (Laughter.)

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Not really.  

 7                 (Laughter.)

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I'm not funny.  They 

 9          can vouch for that.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN BARRETT:  Not 

11          intentionally.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Would you advocate 

13          for a carve-out for agriculture and farms 

14          from this $15 minimum wage proposal?

15                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I think that would 

16          have its whole set of challenges because 

17          farms obviously compete in rural communities 

18          for young people and people of all ages to 

19          work.  I can see that being problematic.

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, there's many 

21          programs that have been greatly reduced for 

22          agricultural research, marketing in the 

23          budget.  And I believe in your earlier 

24          comments to some of the questioners you said 


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 1          you're a fan of the Farm Viability Institute, 

 2          that's a good program.

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Absolutely.

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Then why is it being 

 5          cut by 75 percent in your budget, from 

 6          $1.5 million to $400,000?

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Some of that money 

 8          was moved to the EPF line, I believe.  

 9                 But I think this is where we need to 

10          get into the discussions with you guys on the 

11          legislative adds and local assistance money 

12          to highlight the importance there.  The 

13          Governor has given us at Ag and Markets a 

14          budget for us to do our core mission.  And I 

15          don't mean to hedge on this, but this is what 

16          the budget process allows us to do, then, to 

17          get into that and talk about what's necessary 

18          and what's nice.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, it seems to be 

20          an annual recurring process that the Governor 

21          eliminates these things and we put them back 

22          in.  But there's a myriad of programs that 

23          the Governor has completely eliminated from 

24          this budget that supports a variety of 


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 1          research and marketing for the berry growers, 

 2          the Christmas tree farmers, the corn and 

 3          soybean growers, the honeybee research, maple 

 4          research, the Farm Viability Institute, Grown 

 5          on Long Island, Harvest NY, hops and barley 

 6          program, Maple Producers Association, apple 

 7          growers, apple research, onion research, turf 

 8          grass, the Wine and Grape Foundation being 

 9          cut by a third, wood products development 

10          being eliminated completely.  

11                 And particularly concerning to me, 

12          with all the efforts in the craft beverage 

13          industry that I've applauded you for at the 

14          outset here, why reductions to the Wine and 

15          Grape Foundation and to the hops and barley 

16          program, which seem critical to that and the 

17          continued efforts to increase production in 

18          these areas?  Particularly with hops and 

19          barley for the microbreweries and for the 

20          distillers that are popping up.  They 

21          already -- they're still encountering great 

22          shortages of supply to get New York-grown 

23          product, to get even better incentives for 

24          their products.


                                                                  255

 1                 So I think it's important that these 

 2          types of programs be continued to help 

 3          support these industries in a variety of 

 4          ways.  And we've talked about pollinators, 

 5          yet we're eliminating funding for honeybee 

 6          research, which is critical to that.  

 7                 So, I mean, there's a variety of 

 8          programs.  And your justifications for those 

 9          being cut out?  

10                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, let's have 

11          those discussions.  I think, you know, 

12          clearly a number of things did get funded.  

13          There's been an investment in a number of 

14          areas, and you articulated them.  Certainly 

15          in Geneva, you know, into the wine lab there, 

16          into cider research there, into hops research 

17          there.  But I think we need to get, in this 

18          process, more of you involved and talk about 

19          what is really important and what exactly is 

20          the need, where is it, and how we do quantify 

21          that.  

22                 So let's have those conversations, and 

23          let's get into the weeds on those things.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I'd love to.  Thank 


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 1          you very much, Commissioner.

 2                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you, 

 3          Senator. 

 4                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 5                 Assemblywoman Woerner.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you, 

 7          Mr. Chairman.  

 8                 Thank you, Commissioner, for your 

 9          remarks.  

10                 A number of my colleagues have raised 

11          one of the questions that I had, which is 

12          funding for the Farm Viability Institute as 

13          well as funding for hops programs.  I think 

14          both of those speak to kind of the strategic 

15          point that you were making earlier about the 

16          goal is to make our farms more viable, more 

17          profitable, and to expand the market for 

18          New York-based products.  So I would just 

19          encourage further investment in those.

20                 I want to talk about two -- three 

21          other things, actually.  One is you point out 

22          that we really need to focus on rural youth 

23          and how do we encourage our youth to get into 

24          farming.  And certainly the FFA program and 


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 1          the Ag in Schools program help in that 

 2          regard, and yet those programs as well are 

 3          cut in this budget.  

 4                 So can you speak to kind of the role 

 5          that you see for FFA programs and Ag in 

 6          Schools as we go forward?  

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  I think 

 8          that's a critical need, and I think we've 

 9          identified it and talked about it.  And 

10          that's another one of those in-the-weeds 

11          discussions that we need to have, like where 

12          is the need and how is the need quantified.  

13                 It's been a joy for me to spend time 

14          on the stage with an awful lot of FFA blue 

15          jackets -- great speakers, articulate and 

16          trained in understanding and recognizing 

17          responsibility.  They're great assets.  Those 

18          are our future leaders as we go forward.  And 

19          again, we do a good job, when we get them to 

20          our land grant schools, of getting them 

21          prepared for modern agriculture.  But, you 

22          know, letting them find that choice, you 

23          know, letting mom and dad recognize that that 

24          is a viable way for their young people to 


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 1          proceed is going to be very critical.

 2                 So the FFAs, the 4-Hs, the BOCES 

 3          around the state need to consider this.  We 

 4          need more ag teachers.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you.  

 6          And I look forward to talking with you 

 7          further about how we can do that.

 8                 My other point relates to the climate 

 9          change and mitigation initiative that's in 

10          the budget.  There are two opportunities here 

11          for us, I think.  One is controlled 

12          environment agriculture and using that as a 

13          technology to expand the growing season in 

14          New York so that we can take advantage of the 

15          opportunity that the western part of the 

16          country's climate problems presents for us.  

17                 And then the second piece of this is 

18          anaerobic digesters and encouraging the 

19          installation and use of anaerobic digesters 

20          as a base power production, distributed 

21          generation capability.  And, you know, as we 

22          all know, the methane produced by farms is 

23          pretty substantial as an environmental 

24          impact, and anaerobic digesters is a 


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 1          mechanism for reducing that and having the 

 2          added benefit of supporting the distributed 

 3          power generation strategy that the Governor 

 4          has been pushing.  

 5                 So I'm wondering if you can reflect on 

 6          that for a few minutes.

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, yeah, I 

 8          completely agree with you.  And we could be 

 9          part of the mutual admiration society here 

10          because we both believe that technology is 

11          the way that agriculture can grow here, and 

12          we have good technology in our state, in our 

13          universities.  And we need to look at farms 

14          as energy -- you know, not just as places 

15          where we feed ourselves from, but as energy 

16          producers.  Solar panels and methane 

17          digesters are certainly a critical part of 

18          that.  So as we go forward, we need to look 

19          at a farm in a different way.  

20                 I think the technology aspect, 

21          controlled environment, et cetera -- you 

22          know, we had occasion, we were in New York 

23          City talking with a very large food buyer who 

24          kind of said, "Well, we'd like to do more 


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 1          New York stuff, but we'd like to get some of 

 2          these vegetables more than three months out 

 3          of the year, four months out of the year."  

 4                 And here's a case where we can connect 

 5          the dots in a great way, because if our 

 6          producers upstate know that they have a 

 7          customer there who's reliable and the price 

 8          is reasonable and that is looking for a 

 9          year-round supply or a five-month or an 

10          eight-month supply instead of a two-month 

11          supply or a three-month supply, we'll invest 

12          in the technology to make that happen.  We 

13          can grow, in a controlled environment, 

14          tomatoes and peppers and lettuce and things 

15          like that.  

16                 But we need to have that customer.  It 

17          starts with the customer first.  And we have 

18          this big marketplace, and we need to build 

19          those relationships.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  So in the 

21          funding for the environmental change funds, 

22          are there programs to encourage investments 

23          in the development and the adoption of these 

24          technologies?


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  The climate change 

 2          funds, yes, I think they would fall in that 

 3          realm.  Largely we're looking at, you know, 

 4          flood plain mitigation, we're looking at 

 5          water and land management that can make 

 6          farming possible even in the face of extreme 

 7          weather conditions.  

 8                 In the Schoharie Valley we saw an 

 9          enormous event in 2011, and we've seen events 

10          in the Mohawk Valley and in Buffalo and in 

11          the North Country.  What can we do to invest 

12          in the infrastructure in those areas?  In 

13          many cases it would be covering the manure 

14          storage or having a better nutrient 

15          management plan that would accommodate the 

16          kind of weather we're seeing.  

17                 I think in our REDCs, which have all 

18          committed upstate to agriculture as part of 

19          their core mission and core funding they need 

20          to do, that we have great opportunities for 

21          controlled environment there.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Great.  Thank 

23          you very much.

24                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 2                 Senator Little.

 3                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Thank you.  

 4                 And thank you, Commissioner, for being 

 5          here today.  But more importantly, thank you 

 6          for the work you have done for farmers in 

 7          New York State.  Great job, and truly 

 8          appreciated.

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

10                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Just a couple of 

11          things I'd like to mention.  I'd be remiss if 

12          I didn't talk about the minimum wage and its 

13          effect on the farms, particularly apple 

14          orchards, which I have a number of them in my 

15          district.  They bring in workers many times 

16          from Jamaica and other places for five weeks, 

17          six weeks, and they have to pay them an 

18          adverse minimum wage, which is -- I think 

19          last year it was $13 an hour or something 

20          like that.  And so that's based upon a 

21          minimum wage and the wages of the other 

22          employees and -- it's complicated.  I don't 

23          understand the whole thing.  But I know that 

24          it's several dollars above what the minimum 


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 1          wage is, and this would be a real hardship 

 2          for those people.  

 3                 They also have to pay unemployment 

 4          insurance on these workers that they bring in 

 5          for the five or six weeks.  And I've had a 

 6          bill that would exempt them from that, 

 7          because these workers would never be eligible 

 8          to collect unemployment.  So that's another 

 9          expense that they have.  

10                 I'd just ask you to consider that in 

11          the discussion about minimum wage.

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Absolutely, thank 

13          you.  Yup.

14                 SENATOR LITTLE:  And the second thing 

15          is on the climate change you have $23 million 

16          for adaptive infrastructure.  And I would ask 

17          if there's any place in there that you could 

18          look at our forests and what our forestlands 

19          do for climate change, for climate 

20          mitigation, and certainly for addressing 

21          changes in storm mitigation.  

22                 But many of our people own tracts of 

23          forestland.  We're working on a 480-b 

24          program, something new.  But if there's some 


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 1          way we could help those people and include 

 2          them, see what the role of forests is in 

 3          climate change.

 4                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Okay.  I will 

 5          definitely have our folks look into that.  I 

 6          think largely that would rest in DEC's world, 

 7          but we're good friends with the commissioner 

 8          over there.

 9                 SENATOR LITTLE:  It just looked like a 

10          good chunk of money that they might be able 

11          to be considered in.  So thank you very much.

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you, 

13          Senator.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

15                 Any other Assemblymembers?  

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes.  Assemblyman 

17          Lopez.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

19          Chairman.  

20                 Welcome, Commissioner.

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good to see you, 

22          Assemblyman.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Good to see you.  

24                 I'm going to run through a list quick.  


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 1          Just quickly touching on the New York State 

 2          Fairs, I know we've spoken about the fairs 

 3          before.  So besides infrastructure -- water, 

 4          sewer lines, structures -- again, just a 

 5          reminder that the issue of premiums continues 

 6          to be a concern in terms of getting people to 

 7          exhibits.  So more of an annual allocation -- 

 8          if we're going to have the true sharing and 

 9          education, we need to have the farmers there 

10          and they need to be able to afford to stay 

11          there.  So for veterinary fees and other 

12          costs.

13                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah.  Thank you.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  And if there's an 

15          ability to put some sort of interpretive -- 

16          encourage our fairs to put more interpretive 

17          elements in, kind of like an Ag in the 

18          Classroom kiosk, other informative -- some 

19          way of helping underwrite or support that, I 

20          thought that would be helpful for our 

21          visitors who know nothing about agriculture 

22          but like seeing the animals and petting them, 

23          et cetera.

24                 A quick changeover to the EPF 


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 1          allocation.  I concur with my colleague next 

 2          to me in regard to the biomass, solar, wind, 

 3          hydro, energy conservation component.  We 

 4          know that our farms often have two requests, 

 5          higher price for their product and lower 

 6          input costs.  And energy is always going to 

 7          be there.  I'd like to see a chicken in every 

 8          pot, so to speak.  It would be nice to see 

 9          every farm that's engaged in productive 

10          agriculture have a way to underwrite their 

11          costs and reduce their costs on farm energy 

12          production.

13                 Skipping over to the Farm to School 

14          piece, I understand -- and again, 

15          Assemblywoman Russell spoke about the cost 

16          offset.  I believe there's also an issue with 

17          storage or marketing orders that might have 

18          something involving OGS -- I'm a little rusty 

19          on this, but there may be an issue of access 

20          or supply as well, some sort of contractual 

21          issues with OGS, if you're not -- maybe 

22          you're up to speed on, I'm sure you are, with 

23          RoAnn. 

24                 I do want to hit the issue of milk 


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 1          pricing.  It's my understanding that we're at 

 2          what, 17 or so, price per hundred -- I'm not 

 3          sure where we are right now -- which I 

 4          understand is around break-even point.

 5                 I remain concerned about variability 

 6          in milk pricing.  And I'm just wondering what 

 7          are we doing, what can we be doing to 

 8          stabilize that industry.  It's still a 

 9          significant if not the majority of our 

10          New York production, agricultural production.  

11          Any thoughts on that?

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah.  Well, 

13          dairy, as you know, has been riding a 

14          roller coaster most of our lifetimes, anyway.  

15          We participated in a number of summits on 

16          dairy crises over the years, mostly having to 

17          do with price.  You know, this past year the 

18          challenge has been more of a supply and 

19          demand issue, which is kind of unique, where 

20          we had -- coming off a record year of pricing 

21          and a record year of volume.  And 

22          unfortunately the rest of the world had a 

23          record world as well.  We saw our export 

24          market drop by about 3 percent -- not because 


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 1          of New York but because our dollar is strong 

 2          in the United States because the EU had a big 

 3          year in dairy, because New Zealand had a big 

 4          year in dairy, because the Chinese bought 

 5          less.  And so we had a supply and demand 

 6          issue, which drove price down.

 7                 I think that, long term, I'm 

 8          encouraged.  For the most part, supply and 

 9          demand has kind of righted itself.  There are 

10          still challenges cropping up across the state 

11          with challenges with getting milk sold.  But 

12          by and large now it's a price issue.  The 

13          price is low, you know, kind of a hangover 

14          from all of that.  

15                 I do think that our prognosis is 

16          excellent in the state, because we continue 

17          to make a lot of yogurt, we continue to make 

18          a lot of cheese, we continue to make a lot of 

19          powder, to continue to move a lot of fluid 

20          milk.  Fluid milk has kind of leveled off, 

21          may be even retreating a little bit, but the 

22          others are doing quite well.

23                 And my reason for optimism is that in 

24          the last two years we added 63 processing 


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 1          plants in the state.  They're excited about 

 2          growing, they're investing in growing in 

 3          New York State.  And today we have 30 plants 

 4          in our queue at the department to be 

 5          inspected and looked at.  So I think we can 

 6          look to that as there's still market 

 7          available for our milk.  

 8                 And secondly, I think our co-ops have 

 9          gotten involved with thinking about how much 

10          milk do we need in the state.  As you know, 

11          some of our best friends are dairy farmers.  

12          But when they have a great year, they add on 

13          capacity.  And we added on capacity at a time 

14          when there was less market for it, and that's 

15          problematic in all industries.  And our 

16          co-ops are getting into that, looking at not 

17          regulating that but influencing that.  

18                 So I think the prognosis long term for 

19          dairy is excellent in the state.  We're in 

20          the right region, we've got the right 

21          geography, our cheese tastes better than 

22          cheese made in other states, and I think the 

23          confidence from our co-ops and processors is 

24          high.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  I see I'm out of 

 2          time, Commissioner.  And again, my only 

 3          concern is the issue of, besides the  

 4          investment in processing, is it translating 

 5          so that our farmers are making investments on 

 6          their farms.  And that's the piece I'm most 

 7          concerned about, is it translating to on-farm 

 8          investment.  So I'll leave it with you.  

 9                 We'll come back; I think I know how to 

10          reach you.  Thank you.  

11                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Okay.  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

13          Assemblyman.

14                 Assemblyman Titone.  I think he left,  

15          okay.  So he was on the list?

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Never mind.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Never mind.  It was 

18          about deer, anyway, and I think we've covered 

19          that.  

20                 Anyone else on the Senate side?

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  No, that's it.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, then.  

23          Commissioner Ball, thank you so much for 

24          being with us today.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Appreciate it very 

 2          much.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We think you do an 

 4          excellent job and look forward to working 

 5          with you in the future.  So thank you.

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  My pleasure.  

 7          Thank you.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speakers 

 9          will come up together, and that's Audrey 

10          Zibelman, chair of the Department of Public 

11          Service, and John Rhodes, president and CEO 

12          of the New York State Energy Research and 

13          Development Authority, NYSERDA.

14                 Sincere welcome to Chairwoman Zibelman 

15          and President Rhodes.  Thank you so much for 

16          being here today.

17                 Before we begin, I'd like to point out 

18          that the chair of the Senate Energy Committee 

19          was able to join us today -- that's Senator 

20          Griffo -- and the reason being that there was 

21          a close personal friend of the family who 

22          passed away suddenly.  But he gives his 

23          regards.  And I think we have some questions 

24          that will be asked on his behalf.  


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 1                 So again, welcome.  We're very glad to 

 2          have you here.  And I would ask that 

 3          Chairwoman Zibelman begin.  Thank you.  

 4                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Good morning, 

 5          Chair -- or good afternoon, actually, Chair 

 6          Young and Chair Farrell and other members of 

 7          the Assembly and the Senate who are there.  

 8                 First of all, my condolences.  Please 

 9          express them to Senator Griffo, and when I 

10          get to see him, I will tell him myself.

11                 My name is, as you said, Audrey 

12          Zibelman, and I'm the CEO of the Department 

13          of Public Service and the chair of the Public 

14          Service Commission.  The department ensures 

15          affordable and reliable access to electric, 

16          gas, steam, telecommunications, and water 

17          services for consumers.  Our responsibilities 

18          include advising the PSC on all decisions it 

19          must make such as rate determinations, 

20          utility financing, consumer protection, 

21          safety and reliability of utility services, 

22          siting permits, and mergers and acquisitions.  

23                 Among our top priorities this year 

24          will be moving forward the Governorís 


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 1          Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV, 

 2          initiative, including the Clean Energy 

 3          Standard to meet 50 percent of our 

 4          electricity needs from renewable resources by 

 5          2030.  As part of the Clean Energy Standard, 

 6          the PSC will develop a new support mechanism 

 7          for our licensed, but financially distressed, 

 8          upstate nuclear fleet to meet our climate 

 9          goals and address the economic impact of 

10          prematurely retiring plants.  

11                 Over the last year, we've taken steps 

12          to advance REV that together will contribute 

13          toward meeting the Clean Energy Standard. 

14          Last week, the PSC adopted a benefit/cost 

15          analysis framework for REV, which is a tool 

16          that utilities and the agency will use to 

17          determine when utility investments in 

18          alternative energy solutions are more 

19          beneficial than traditional investments.  

20          That really is the essence of REV -- using 

21          demand reduction and clean-energy solutions 

22          as a core strategy to meeting energy needs. 

23                 Traditional approaches have resulted 

24          in an inefficient system and simply are no 


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 1          longer sustainable.  REV will result in more 

 2          customer choices, a cleaner and more 

 3          resilient grid, and a more cost-effective 

 4          means to achieve our overall objectives to 

 5          ensure reliability and address climate 

 6          change.  

 7                 Key actions on REV that have been 

 8          taken include:  Demonstration projects 

 9          statewide that will provide insight on how 

10          businesses and innovators can work with 

11          utilities to unlock private investment in 

12          clean energy and deliver new products and 

13          services to customers; low-income programs to 

14          keep energy costs affordable; and a Community 

15          Renewables initiative to give multiple 

16          utility customers the opportunity to develop 

17          shared renewable energy projects resulting in 

18          healthier and stronger communities.  

19                 This month the PSC also approved the 

20          10-year Clean Energy Fund to be administered 

21          by NYSERDA.  Funded by existing surcharges on 

22          utility bills, our order reduces annual 

23          collections from ratepayers by $91 million in 

24          2016, compared to 2015 levels, with further 


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 1          reductions over the 10-year period totaling 

 2          $1.5 billion.  In addition to substantial 

 3          environmental benefits, the fund is expected 

 4          to result in $39 billion in customer bill 

 5          savings, for a $5 billion investment.  

 6                 The PSC will monitor NYSERDAís 

 7          implementation of the fund, require 

 8          transparency and regular reporting, and 

 9          amending, when necessary, to maximize value.

10                 REV principles will be folded into 

11          utility rate cases to ensure public policy 

12          goals are met and rates are minimized.  In 

13          2015, the commission considered five major 

14          electric and gas rate cases in which 

15          utilities sought rate increases of more than 

16          $419 million.  After staffís review, the 

17          commission approved rate increases of only 

18          $38 million.  In the year ahead, staff will 

19          be responsible for conducting up to 13 rate 

20          cases.  

21                 In the coming year we will continue 

22          our expanded oversight of Long Island utility 

23          operations under the LIPA Reform Act.  In 

24          2015, our review of the three-year rate 


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 1          proposal for PSEG resulted in a reduction of 

 2          $154 million from what was requested.  Over 

 3          the next year, we will be reviewing updates 

 4          to the rate plan, capital budgets, 

 5          performance metrics -- including customer 

 6          service -- and other aspects of the utilityís 

 7          operations.  

 8                 We will also focus on gas safety, 

 9          among our most important responsibilities. 

10          We've strengthened our gas safety regulations 

11          and compliance review of the major gas 

12          utilities.  

13                 Our consumer advocate has prioritized 

14          resolving utility complaints and reviewing 

15          compliance with consumer protection rules and 

16          regulations.  Last year, the consumer 

17          advocateís staff answered more than 65,000 

18          calls, and increased the answer rate and the 

19          speed of answering calls.  By close 

20          monitoring of trends in complaints, the 

21          consumer advocate was able to commence 

22          several investigations into retail electric 

23          providers, resulting in millions of dollars 

24          in consumer refunds. 


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 1                 For the year ahead, we will be 

 2          reviewing several proposed transmission and 

 3          generation projects.  For example, it is 

 4          expected that the winning developer of the 

 5          Energy Highway initiative will seek final 

 6          permits for transmission upgrades valued at 

 7          $1.2 billion. 

 8                 In the telecommunications sector, we 

 9          will continue our review of the 

10          telecommunications industry.  The 

11          examination, which will include technical 

12          conferences next month, includes an analysis 

13          of telecommunications technologies, consumer 

14          trends, and regulatory approaches.  We will 

15          also be acting on the proposed merger of 

16          Cablevision and Altice.  

17                 With respect to the Executive Budget, 

18          several changes in Public Service Law have 

19          been proposed to increase the efficiency of 

20          our rate proceedings and to reduce costs for 

21          municipal utility corporations.  These 

22          include increasing the maximum time frame for 

23          review of rate cases to 15 months, rather 

24          than the current 11 months, and exempting 


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 1          municipal gas and electric corporations from 

 2          the evidentiary hearings associated with rate 

 3          reviews.  

 4                 Thank you very much, and I look 

 5          forward to your questions.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 7          Chairwoman.  

 8                 I know that Senator Ritchie has a 

 9          question.

10                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Thank you, 

11          Chairwoman.

12                 I'm sure that you are keenly aware of 

13          the situation in my district with FitzPatrick 

14          and the fact that the impending closure of 

15          FitzPatrick will cost the community 615 jobs.  

16          Those 615 jobs, the number alone is going to 

17          be a huge, devastating blow to the community.  

18          But those jobs are $100,000 jobs which are 

19          few and far between in my district.

20                 Along with that, they pay 

21          $12.5 million in property taxes to Mexico 

22          School -- which is 49 percent of their 

23          budget -- and also another $4.8 million in 

24          county and town taxes.  So with the impending 


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 1          closure, it's going to be a huge, devastating 

 2          hit to the community.

 3                 I certainly appreciate the fact that 

 4          the Governor has put forward his clean energy 

 5          standard, something that looks to help the 

 6          nuclear plants not only, in my district, 

 7          FitzPatrick.  You know, that's something 

 8          that's a grave concern that we're trying to 

 9          turn around, but we also have Nine Mile I and 

10          II, and we also have an issue pending with 

11          Ginna that's just outside my district.

12                 So my question is, given the timeline 

13          that we have and how critical the situation 

14          is, how quickly do you plan to move on this, 

15          and when do you believe the companies will be 

16          able to see a real return, possibly to change 

17          the direction that FitzPatrick is going?

18                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you, 

19          Senator Ritchie.  And certainly I share your 

20          concern.  And as you're aware, the Governor 

21          also shares your concern about the premature 

22          closure of the FitzPatrick unit.

23                 Last week, as I mentioned, the staff 

24          issued the White Paper in terms of the 


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 1          proposal of how we would address the 

 2          financial struggles of the nuclear fleet in 

 3          the upstate region.  We will be acting on 

 4          that.  We've already started the process, the 

 5          review process, and would expect commission 

 6          action in June of this year, and that allows 

 7          us to go through our normal regulatory 

 8          process.

 9                 Given the fact that the plant is not 

10          anticipated in closure until next December, 

11          this will give FitzPatrick sufficient time to 

12          review what was going on and make 

13          preparations, I believe, to stay open.

14                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  During my 

15          conversations with the company, their 

16          concerns were that they're afraid that this 

17          will be drawn out far too long.  They're not 

18          sure it will actually go into place.

19                 So I guess my question would be, do 

20          you see yourself submitting a proposal to be 

21          included in the 30-day amendments to the 

22          Governor's budget?

23                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, this is not 

24          something that we would require a budget 


                                                                  281

 1          amendment for.  

 2                 However, if the company is concerned 

 3          about the process -- and we've talked to them 

 4          about them -- I would request that they 

 5          really file a petition with us and talk about 

 6          what their concerns are and what some 

 7          potential solutions might be available to 

 8          address their concerns, since -- you know, 

 9          certainly for us, this is -- a nuclear plant 

10          cannot shut down temporarily, it's on or off.  

11          And so we would hate to think about what 

12          could be just a month or two-month issue as 

13          something to be addressed.  Is that something 

14          that would be a long-term problem or what you 

15          can have as a short-term solution?  And I 

16          would request that they come in and talk to 

17          us about what their concerns are and how we 

18          might address them.

19                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Well, given the fact 

20          that Ginna is not in my district, but the 

21          company that owns that nuclear facility also 

22          owns two other facilities in my district, and 

23          they're going to be in the same type of 

24          situation, what is the soonest that you 


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 1          foresee these standards being in effect so 

 2          that companies who are making their decisions 

 3          will know that these credits are forthcoming?

 4                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  As requested by 

 5          the Governor in his letter to me of December 

 6          2nd, we're putting this on really an 

 7          expedited time frame, and we expect to have 

 8          resolution by June.  Which will be sufficient 

 9          for Ginna as well as the Nine Mile I and Nine 

10          Mile II units, and I think also sufficient 

11          for FitzPatrick to be able to react.

12                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  And just one last 

13          question.  Would it not be prudent or would 

14          it not show these companies that definitely 

15          something is going into effect if they were 

16          included in the 30-day amendments and then in 

17          the final proposal?

18                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Again, this is -- 

19          this Clean Energy Standard is a regulatory 

20          process.  Even if they weren't in the 

21          amendments, I believe we would have to act.  

22          And the six months I believe is really a fast 

23          time for them to be able to have the 

24          certainty they need.  


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 1                 And again, if FitzPatrick -- if 

 2          Entergy has concerns, we would certainly 

 3          invite them to come in and let us know what 

 4          their concerns are, and we could start 

 5          addressing them.

 6                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Thank you.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator 

 8          Ritchie.

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

10                 Assemblyman Oaks.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Hi, Chair.  Thank 

12          you so much for being here.

13                 I want to continue on the process that 

14          we've just been.  I represent the area where 

15          the Ginna plant is, along with Senator 

16          Nozzolio, and just west of the area of 

17          FitzPatrick.  So a nuclear certainly is of 

18          significant concern.

19                 I do appreciate the fact that -- I 

20          know the Governor had put out to say by June 

21          to have the rules -- in fact I do sense the 

22          expediting or giving signals to the industry.  

23          Certainly that by including it in the Clean 

24          Energy goals, certainly the appearance and 


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 1          the focus is showing that there is a -- we 

 2          will have some changes coming down the path.

 3                 But I do share Senator Ritchie's 

 4          concerns on the timelines so that they have 

 5          clear signals and understanding of what the 

 6          changes are going to be.

 7                 I guess I would just ask a couple of 

 8          other questions to Senator Ritchie's 

 9          comments.  Do you see now nuclear having a 

10          role in benefiting from the $5 billion Clean 

11          Energy Fund?  Is that some of what might, you 

12          know, have access to now being a part of the 

13          Clean Energy Plan?

14                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you, 

15          Assemblyman Oaks.  No, I do not.  The Clean 

16          Energy Fund is really focused on energy 

17          efficiency and renewable energy.  But the 

18          Clean Energy Standard, which is really going 

19          to provide nuclear owners essentially a 

20          supplemental payment mechanism so that they 

21          cover their cost of operating the units, is 

22          really in itself a very unique approach.  And 

23          New York is really leading the nation in 

24          thinking about how do we address nuclear in 


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 1          this area where we're concerned about climate 

 2          change.  Nuclear does provide zero-emission 

 3          energy, but because of low energy prices, 

 4          these plants have now become uneconomic in 

 5          the upstate region.

 6                 Having this approach where they can 

 7          have the certitude that they will be able to 

 8          meet their costs going forward is really the 

 9          focus of the Clean Energy Standard.  And as 

10          you saw in I believe in some of Exelon's 

11          response, they also believe that this could 

12          be a good result for them.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  I do know in the 

14          Governor's letter that he did in December to 

15          the PSC, talking about how he was viewing 

16          nuclear and upstate nuclear, he talked about 

17          if we should lose it, it would really set us 

18          back.  And I know I've seen some figures that 

19          would suggest if Ginna and/or FitzPatrick go 

20          off, that a decade of renewables, where we've 

21          come, the effectiveness of that would be lost 

22          and in essence put us back in -- obviously 

23          we're making greater progress today than we 

24          were a decade ago, but when you think of 


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 1          where we've come from, to lose either of 

 2          those in clean energy would certainly hurt 

 3          significantly.

 4                 One last question.  Do you see nuclear 

 5          as being a part of the clean energy economy, 

 6          as we discuss it?

 7                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Assemblyman Oaks, 

 8          thank you for the question.

 9                 I think as we see it, nuclear is an 

10          important part of the fuel diversity that we 

11          think is an important part of the energy 

12          economy in New York.  It certainly is a 

13          zero-emission resource.  And when it's safe 

14          and in its license period, it provides 

15          important energy, baseload energy, for the 

16          region.  And one of the things that we are 

17          concerned with at the Public Service 

18          Commission is having fuel diversity.  We 

19          have, in New York, a good mix of resources 

20          with hydro as well as with solar and wind and 

21          nuclear, and we want to maintain a good mix 

22          of resources that are both clean and allow us 

23          to manage price volatility.  

24                 So nuclear gets into this mix, which 


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 1          is why we believe it's important that we have 

 2          a rational and reasonable transition to the 

 3          end of the license plans of these units.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you very 

 5          much.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 7                 I'd like to go next.  So, Chairwoman, 

 8          thank you so much, again, for being here 

 9          today.  And I certainly appreciate all the 

10          attention you have given to repowering the 

11          energy plant in Dunkirk.  You know how 

12          crucial that is to that community, not only 

13          from the jobs standpoint -- and 

14          unfortunately, it's mothballed right now, and 

15          we know why, and I'm not going to go into all 

16          the dynamics -- but, at the same time, the 

17          tax base for the community, the opportunity 

18          for economic growth in the future.

19                 And you've heard just two of my 

20          colleagues so far talk about the major 

21          problem that we see in this state with our 

22          power generators across the state, all the 

23          way from Long Island up to Western New York, 

24          whether it's Dunkirk, whether it's Huntley, 


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 1          Somerset.  But there are so many plants that 

 2          are in trouble right now, which raises a lot 

 3          of concerns on a lot of levels.  

 4                 Obviously, number one is that the 

 5          Governor has spoken so eloquently about 

 6          regrowing the economy in New York State; he 

 7          has a strong focus on manufacturing, 

 8          manufacturing jobs.  And what that means, in 

 9          Western New York but across the entire state, 

10          is that we cannot lose our ability to 

11          generate power.  If we lose these baseload 

12          plants, I think that that dooms us in the 

13          future so that we have less opportunity to 

14          grow those manufacturing jobs and bring that 

15          prosperity and opportunity to the people of 

16          New York State.

17                 So, you know, there seems to be, on 

18          some levels, this focus on restructuring 

19          things so that our plants may be going out of 

20          business, whether it's FitzPatrick -- and we 

21          know the dynamics there -- but as we lose 

22          these plants and there's more of a focus on 

23          transmission and possible transmission from 

24          other states, I have concerns about that for 


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 1          many reasons.  

 2                 It just came to my attention this 

 3          morning, I got an email, and Indeck, which is 

 4          a small plant, as you know, in Olean, hasn't 

 5          run since January 4th, it's my understanding.  

 6          And that pretty much coincides with a major 

 7          transmission project that was just completed 

 8          by National Grid that actually ties into 

 9          Pennsylvania.  And as you know, we've had 

10          discussions about concerns about the fact 

11          that we could be importing power, and 

12          oftentimes -- well, I know for a fact other 

13          states surrounding us do not have the same 

14          standards that we have in New York as far as 

15          power generation.

16                 So one of the questions that I had, 

17          does the PSC, New York State, the ISO, do 

18          they track levels and sources of imported 

19          power?  And is this information available to 

20          the Legislature and the public?

21                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Senator Young, 

22          thank you for the question.  And also thank 

23          you for your leadership with respect to 

24          Dunkirk and the work we're doing there.


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 1                 Yes, the New York ISO does monitor 

 2          imports and exports of energy as part of its 

 3          regular business.  Because in order to keep 

 4          the grid reliable, we need to know what's 

 5          being imported and what's being exported.  So 

 6          that information is there, and I'm sure I can 

 7          check with my colleagues at the New York ISO 

 8          and we can make that available to you in 

 9          plain English form.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right, and that 

11          would be helpful.  I know it changes, I 

12          believe from day to day, just based on power 

13          flows and needs and that sort of thing.  But, 

14          you know, my concern is, for example, 

15          Pennsylvania still has some of the dirtiest 

16          coal plants operating in the country, and we 

17          have a different playing field for New York 

18          power generators versus power generators from 

19          other states.

20                 And as you know, there's no policy of 

21          imposing -- assessing charges, you know, RGGI 

22          charges on production of greenhouse gases on 

23          power imported from other states, but we have 

24          imposed those on our own industries.  And I 


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 1          think this creates an unequal -- it's not a 

 2          level playing field, which obviously brings 

 3          up some concerns.

 4                 I wanted to ask about is the Governor 

 5          committed to providing comparable incentives 

 6          for renewable sources, or are some renewable 

 7          sources given more weight than others in 

 8          helping us reach a clean energy future?  So, 

 9          you know, obviously that's a laudable goal, 

10          to move forward with the clean energy, but I 

11          was wondering, are some more profitable than 

12          others in the Governor's mind?

13                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Senator Young, 

14          thank you for the question.

15                 The way the staff is proposing, in the 

16          Clean Energy Standard, there were will be 

17          essentially two types of price payments for 

18          renewables.  For new renewables there will be 

19          one price payment to attract new renewables 

20          in the mix, and then there will be a second 

21          price payment for existing renewables because 

22          we won't want to lose them and have them 

23          export their energy into another state.

24                 We also recognize, however, that there 


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 1          are going to be certain types of renewables 

 2          that we want to get developed in this state, 

 3          and that the renewable payment that we have 

 4          through the Clean Energy Standard may not be 

 5          sufficient.  In that instance, it is our 

 6          expectation that we would support these types 

 7          of renewables with other programs 

 8          administered by NYSERDA.  A good example of 

 9          that today is the NY-Sun program, where we 

10          call it a sort of a form of a co-incentive, 

11          where we're explicitly supporting solar 

12          development.  

13                 And the expectation would be, as we 

14          move forward, if there are particular types 

15          of technologies that we want to see developed 

16          in the state and the Clean Energy Standard 

17          payment is insufficient, that is where we 

18          would expect Green Bank and NYSERDA, through 

19          its programs, to help that.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you for that.

21                 How much is New York incentivizing 

22          renewable sources at present, and what is the 

23          projection for the next five years?

24                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, as I 


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 1          mentioned, we've just put in the $5 billion 

 2          Clean Energy Fund.  And if I can, I would ask 

 3          that John Rhodes actually supplement that 

 4          question, because these are details that I 

 5          know he's aware of.

 6                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Would you like me 

 7          to speak now or hold it for my moment?

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You know what, 

 9          actually I can come back.

10                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  As you wish.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Why don't we do 

12          that.  I'll come back to you.  Thank you so 

13          much.

14                 So, you know, just back to the 

15          transmission thing, though.  You know, one of 

16          the concerns I said is the ability to attract 

17          jobs and investment in the state.  And we see 

18          all these plants that are actually 

19          jeopardized around the state right now.  

20                 Would the Executive support a 

21          substantial increase to the Power Facility 

22          Disruption Mitigation Fund that was supported 

23          by $19 million last year, given the major and 

24          revolutionary changes that the Governor is 


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 1          pushing for through REV and similar programs?  

 2          And is a change in the statute necessary to 

 3          clarify what counts as a qualifying facility 

 4          and community?  Because I'm not sure if 

 5          that's clear right now.

 6                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Senator Young, we 

 7          are certainly working right now on the 

 8          guidelines for the fund that was put in place 

 9          last year, and I really can't speak to 

10          whether or not the Governor would consider an 

11          increase of that fund.  Certainly we thought 

12          it is sufficient, but it is something we can 

13          come back to you on.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Well, thank you for 

15          that.

16                 So I guess, you know, again, I know 

17          you're working diligently on all the issues 

18          that are arising with the power generators 

19          across the state, and I thank you for that.  

20          But just if we could always keep in mind the 

21          fact that there are jobs involved, there are 

22          communities involved.  It is devastating to 

23          these communities to lose these power plants, 

24          so we just -- I want to thank you for all 


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 1          that you've done for NRG, sincerely.  We've 

 2          made great progress.  We still have to get it 

 3          all the way.  But, you know, I appreciate 

 4          your responses.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 Assemblywoman Russell.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  Thank you, 

 8          Mr. Chairman.  

 9                 And thank you, Chairwoman Zibelman -- 

10          did I say that right? -- for being here 

11          today. 

12                 I wanted to just start off a little 

13          bit with your comments on broadband.  You 

14          know, I think that there might have been a 

15          missed opportunity in the merger discussions 

16          and agreement with Time Warner Cable and 

17          Charter, that more wasn't done to ensure that 

18          areas that don't have broadband coverage, you 

19          know, would essentially get coverage under 

20          the terms of the negotiated agreement.

21                 And as you are looking forward to 

22          review of another merger, it appears, you 

23          know, there's a finite amount of resources to 

24          address kind of the coverage area of Time 


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 1          Warner Cable, which is upstate.  And so it 

 2          would be nice if the missed opportunity 

 3          wasn't missed in the downstate area, 

 4          particularly because there's also more of a 

 5          density, you know, in favor of service 

 6          coverage in the more urban areas covered by 

 7          Cablevision, that we are able to preserve 

 8          that precious amount of state funding to 

 9          extend broadband throughout underserved 

10          upstate communities.  So that would be much 

11          appreciated.

12                 Under the 10-year Clean Energy Fund, I 

13          was wondering if you could tell me, are we 

14          treating generators and legacy generators the 

15          same as potentially new generation projects?  

16          I'm particularly wondering about existing 

17          hydro facilities.  I have a lot of hydro in 

18          my district.

19                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you, 

20          Assemblywoman Russell.

21                 Under the Clean -- it's really the 

22          Clean Energy Standard that would apply here.  

23          And that's okay; we're full of acronyms and 

24          names.  But under the Clean Energy Standard, 


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 1          what the staff has proposed is that there 

 2          will be, with respect to renewable energy, 

 3          two tiers of payments, one with respect to 

 4          new renewables and the second with existing.  

 5                 And then what will happen is that all 

 6          retailers in the state will have to acquire a 

 7          certain amount of new -- pay for a certain 

 8          amount of new renewables and existing 

 9          renewables through this what we call 

10          Renewable Energy Credit Program.  And so 

11          consequently this will -- one of the things 

12          that our concern is is that as we're hitting 

13          a 50 percent mandate, we want certainly to 

14          preserve the existing renewables to stay in 

15          the state rather than exporting their energy 

16          to other states.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  Okay, thank you.  

18                 I'd also like to talk a little bit 

19          about the Executive's -- he proposes 

20          legislation to adjust the process to review 

21          and approve municipally owned gas and 

22          electric utility service rate cases.

23                 Can you please describe what changes 

24          are proposed and why they are necessary?  And 


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 1          would the changes result in a savings to the 

 2          Public Service Commission?

 3                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.  And 

 4          thank you for the question.  Yes, it will.  

 5                 The proposal is that we exempt these 

 6          small municipal utilities from the 

 7          evidentiary portion of hearings and allow for 

 8          more expedited review.  The rate case process 

 9          is obviously a complicated process.  We have 

10          experienced staff.  We often find that with 

11          these municipal utilities we settle.  And 

12          anything we can do to expedite that process 

13          really helps the municipals and ends up 

14          helping customers, because it takes costs out 

15          of the process of setting rates.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  Yeah, I figured 

17          the cost savings would probably be more on 

18          these small, couple-of-hundred-customer 

19          utilities versus the Public Service 

20          Commission's workload, because it probably 

21          represents a very small portion of your rate 

22          cases.

23                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  It will help with 

24          our cases.  You know, we continue to look, 


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 1          like the other agencies, to find Lean ways to 

 2          do business, to not do things that we find 

 3          are no longer in the interest of consumers, 

 4          and this is one that we identified as could 

 5          be helpful for the municipals as well as 

 6          helpful for staff.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  The evidentiary 

 8          hearing requirement would be eliminated for 

 9          some municipal utility rate cases; correct?

10                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  That's correct.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  And why does the 

12          commission believe that would be useful?  

13          You've kind of answered it in your previous 

14          testimony, but --

15                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  I think it's 

16          useful because many of these cases end up not 

17          going to hearing, they get settled.  And it 

18          will allow us to expedite the review and 

19          really get to a point where we can set 

20          rates -- municipals, unlike, for example, 

21          investor-owned utilities, do not have 

22          shareholders.  And really it's just a 

23          question of setting the right cost level, and 

24          there's not this kind of concern that folks 


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 1          have in terms of whether or not there's 

 2          unfair profit-making going on.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  Will there still 

 4          be a process, though, for these exempt --

 5                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  There will still 

 6          be a -- yes, I'm sorry.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  Go ahead.

 8                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  There will still 

 9          be a process.  We'll still have it -- it will 

10          still be a transparent process.  The 

11          constituents will be aware of it.  It really 

12          just eliminates the evidentiary portion of 

13          the case, the trial.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN RUSSELL:  And just in full 

15          disclosure, I was raised in a muni and I live 

16          in a neighboring muni, in case anybody wants 

17          to know if I have a conflict.  Thank you.

18                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Sure.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

20                 Senator Betty Little.

21                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Thank you very much, 

22          Chairman Zibelman, for being here.  

23                 And I'd like to direct my questions to 

24          the Governor's proposal to reach 30 percent 


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 1          in renewable energy.

 2                 I have a lot of wind, and I have a lot 

 3          of solar in my district, and they do get a 

 4          lot of subsidies.  But the one thing I have 

 5          that I think is one of the cleanest 

 6          renewables is hydro.  And many of my hydro 

 7          plants are small -- although I have some 

 8          larger ones as well -- and I actually have 

 9          20 small hydro plants in my district.  

10                 But they have a really tough time.  

11          Right now they're getting 1.5 cents for their 

12          electricity, and it's costing them 3 cents to 

13          produce it.  So they have to depend upon a 

14          day-ahead market rate.  And like biomass, 

15          they also have to get into a maintenance tier 

16          to try to get their pricing.

17                 What can we do to help these?

18                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you, 

19          Senator Little.  And I'm well aware of the 

20          issue that's confronting the hydro plants.  

21          Quite frankly, this entire discussion around 

22          generation centers on the fact that we have 

23          historic low natural gas prices in the 

24          region, and that is driving the historically 


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 1          low energy prices.  And so many plants are 

 2          suffering from the fact that there's simply 

 3          not enough revenues in the market for them to 

 4          maintain.  

 5                 So one of the things that, again, we 

 6          look to do with the Clean Energy Standard is 

 7          to have a supplemental payment stream for 

 8          existing renewables, including existing 

 9          hydro, recognizing that with the mandate, we 

10          certainly don't want those plants to retire 

11          and then have to replace those kilowatts or 

12          megawatts with new renewables that will be 

13          more expensive.

14                 So we want to have two tiers of 

15          payments, but we want to make sure that 

16          certainly we're not asking consumers to pay 

17          more than necessary, but that we're giving 

18          these resources sufficient funds so that they 

19          can continue to operate in the state.  And 

20          the concern would be is if they're 

21          insufficient, then there would be an 

22          incentive, well, then let's sell our output 

23          into Massachusetts or Connecticut or 

24          Vermont -- and that doesn't help us either.


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 1                 So that's why we crafted, in the Clean 

 2          Energy Standard, these two tiers of payments 

 3          for existing and new.

 4                 SENATOR LITTLE:  That's true, some of 

 5          our wind is going to Vermont already in the 

 6          North Country because the transmission lines 

 7          really aren't -- the grid is not big enough 

 8          to bring a lot of it down.  

 9                 But you would hate to see these hydro 

10          plants just fall into disrepair and sit 

11          there.  People have a lot of money invested 

12          in them.

13                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes.  Yeah.

14                 SENATOR LITTLE:  So is there a better 

15          way for them to get funded and to bid on 

16          their -- other than going with the day-ahead 

17          market and maintenance tiers and that?

18                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, what we 

19          hope is that the Clean Energy Standard, which 

20          will provide them a supplemental payment 

21          stream, will replace the maintenance tier.  

22          And so the combination of what they make in 

23          the energy market and the supplemental 

24          payment made through the Clean Energy 


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 1          Standard will be sufficient for them to 

 2          maintain operations.

 3                 SENATOR LITTLE:  And they could apply 

 4          for that.

 5                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  They would apply, 

 6          they would bid -- what will happen is NYSERDA 

 7          will administer an auction process, and they 

 8          will bid in what they will need in order to 

 9          be able to sustain operations in the state.  

10          And that will help us set the level of the 

11          supplement.

12                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Okay.  Well, thank 

13          you very much.  But it is a big concern.  And 

14          that certainly, you know, one thing we have 

15          in the North Country is a lot of mountains 

16          and a lot of water.  So this is important.  

17          Thank you.

18                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Lopez.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

21          Chairman.  And Chairwoman.

22                 I just want to clarify, and maybe you 

23          could help me get up to speed.  I know your 

24          agency has been directly involved with the 


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 1          Energy Highway rollout, and one of the issues 

 2          has been the issue of trying to move the 

 3          potential investors to stay within existing 

 4          utility rights-of-way.  And I'm just curious, 

 5          in terms of your mission statement, is there 

 6          any learning curve or anything for future 

 7          expansion of the grid, and lines in 

 8          particular?  Is there an effort to try to 

 9          stay within rights-of-way?  Is there any 

10          change in regulatory policy through PSC?

11                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes, so one of 

12          the -- the long-standing policy of the PSC 

13          through the article-siting process, we always 

14          look at minimizing environmental impact, 

15          including land impact of transmission.  

16                 However, the importance of thinking 

17          about how we minimize land impact was 

18          certainly emphasized by Governor Cuomo two 

19          years ago when he asked us to develop rules 

20          to fast-track, if you will, transmission that 

21          stays within existing right-of-way.  The AC 

22          transmission line, which I think we recently 

23          moved forward to the New York ISO for 

24          consideration, has -- we've been able to, 


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 1          through the process, identify a way to get a 

 2          significant amount of transmission built and 

 3          staying within existing right-of-way.  Which 

 4          will also help the upstate plants, because 

 5          now they can sell into the more expensive 

 6          market downstate.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you.  

 8                 Secondly, in 2014 New York State 

 9          consumers experienced a horrendous spike in 

10          energy prices.  And we understand the cause 

11          and effect, but as I researched this with 

12          utility spokespersons and others, there 

13          seemed to be no real safeguard in place to 

14          prevent this from happening again.  

15                 I'm just curious, what has PSC done 

16          since that time to protect against future 

17          price spikes?

18                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you for the 

19          question.  We've done a number of different 

20          things.  

21                 First of all, we've worked with the 

22          New York ISO to redouble the requirements 

23          that when generators are reliant on natural 

24          gas, that they have reliability of backup.  


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 1          And so that's particularly true in the city, 

 2          where we have oil backup.

 3                 The other piece, though, that the 

 4          commission has done is that we've looked at 

 5          the hedging policies that utilities use, in 

 6          which case we're asking utilities to really 

 7          buy a significant portion in a longer period 

 8          so that they're not subject to these price 

 9          spikes which happen in extreme weather 

10          events.

11                 And we've also promoted fixed pricing 

12          on the part of competitive retailers so that 

13          customers have the opportunity to have a 

14          fixed price for energy.  As well as the other 

15          pieces I think are going to be, again, very 

16          important, is the building of transmission, 

17          because the larger we can make the pool of 

18          resources, it helps with diversity.  And then 

19          working with the ISO to make sure that we're 

20          looking at the reliability requirements and 

21          plants are meeting their reliability 

22          requirements.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Last question.  In 

24          regard to the REV initiative, has that 


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 1          initiative contemplated -- and I asked this 

 2          of the En Con commissioner -- has the REV 

 3          initiative contemplated energy storage as a 

 4          consideration, particularly for renewables?  

 5                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes, it has.  So 

 6          energy storage, to me, is a very important 

 7          part of the future of energy.  As we think 

 8          about more solar, more wind, having storage 

 9          as a mechanism to help balance resources is 

10          important.  And we actually today have 

11          several of these demonstrations I mentioned 

12          are using storage, and utilities are 

13          increasingly thinking about how they can 

14          think about battery storage as well as other 

15          forms of thermal storage as a resource to 

16          support reliability.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  In that regard, we 

18          have the New York Power Authority pump 

19          storage project in my district, 

20          Blenheim-Gilboa.  Is NYPA being engaged as 

21          part of this initiative?  Or where are they 

22          in the mix?  

23                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes, NYPA is -- 

24          as part of the energy portfolio, we work very 


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 1          closely with them.  As part of the Clean 

 2          Energy Standard, we are expecting that NYPA 

 3          and LIPA will meet, you know, their share of 

 4          the requirements.  And we know, you know, 

 5          that NYPA is very involved in various forms 

 6          of looking at advanced resources, whether 

 7          it's through K-Solar -- but they are also 

 8          working with storage.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you so much.  

10                 Thank you, Chairman.

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

13                 Next -- Senator Little, you're all 

14          set, right?  Senator Krueger.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good afternoon.

16                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Good afternoon.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I told you 10 a.m. 

18          was a little too optimistic when you said 

19          that's when you were scheduled to be here.

20                 (Laughter.)

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So there's so many 

22          questions, and I'm going to try to shorthand 

23          them.  

24                 People have asked a number of 


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 1          questions about the Clean Energy Fund and the 

 2          changes in renewable portfolio and system 

 3          benefit charges.  Can you sort of just simply 

 4          explain to us what changes when we go from 

 5          the current system to the Clean Energy Fund 

 6          system?

 7                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Certainly.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Or is that really a 

 9          better question for you (to President 

10          Rhodes), and I'll wait?  

11                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  I think that's a 

12          better question for Mr. Rhodes.

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good.  We'll leave 

14          you alone for a minute and I'll come back to 

15          him.

16                 There's been a number of questions 

17          raised about transmission expansion.  And, 

18          you know, it probably would be very good for 

19          Betty Little's district, but others have 

20          voiced concerns.  My understanding is the 

21          stronger our transmission system, the more 

22          opportunities we have to bring lower-cost 

23          energy throughout the State of New York, 

24          which actually should, as we're moving to a 


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 1          cleaner, more sustainable model, should also 

 2          allow us to lower costs.  Because as someone 

 3          just explained to me, it's always windy 

 4          somewhere, it's always sunny somewhere.

 5                 So can you talk a little bit about why 

 6          actually expanding transmission options as we 

 7          move into our clean energy universe is 

 8          actually a win/win for communities in 

 9          New York State?  

10                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Certainly, 

11          Senator Krueger.  And thank you.

12                 So when you think about the power 

13          grid, it's really -- you have to think about 

14          production, transportation, and then 

15          consumption.  But what's happening under REV 

16          is a recognition that we need to really think 

17          about the grid sort of as a whole.  And as we 

18          think about transmission, it does become 

19          really the highway.  And for New York, a lot 

20          of the production -- and I was thinking about 

21          this as you were speaking to the commissioner 

22          from Agriculture -- is in the north and to 

23          the west, although the consumption is 

24          downstate.  So having transmission really 


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 1          helps get the goods to market.  And it makes 

 2          it really more cost-effective for everyone.

 3                 One of the things that was our concern 

 4          when we looked at both the AC transmission 

 5          and now looking at transmission in the 

 6          western portion of the state, there are many 

 7          hours of the year that we can't get our 

 8          resources, such as NYPA hydro.  It's behind a 

 9          bottleneck, and we want to open up that 

10          bottleneck so that we can export that power 

11          into the downstate region.  That would be the 

12          same for Dunkirk and other units.  Having 

13          transmission gives these resources a bigger, 

14          better market.  And that's one of the reasons 

15          we think transmission can be important.

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And I thought I 

17          heard your answer before, but just to 

18          clarify.  So the Governor's goal by 2030, 

19          that doesn't include nuclear in the goal, the 

20          nuclear is being treated separately?  

21                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  That's correct.  

22          The 50 by '30 goal refers to renewables only.  

23          The nuclear is in addition to that.

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And going back to 


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 1          the Clean Energy Standard, do the 

 2          requirements of the Clean Energy Standard 

 3          apply to the New York Power Authority and 

 4          LIPA as well as other utilities?

 5                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  The commission 

 6          doesn't oversee NYPA and LIPA.  But the way 

 7          we've calculated the standard, we are 

 8          assuming that NYPA and LIPA will also meet 

 9          the standard.  And they have been good 

10          stewards of the environment as well as in 

11          terms of energy efficiency, and I fully 

12          expect that to happen.

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Would it make sense 

14          to include them in a "required in the 

15          standard"?  I mean, you're saying that 

16          they're good stewards on this, but would we 

17          need to change some kind of statute to ensure 

18          that they were included within the same 

19          standard?  

20                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  From the 

21          statutory basis, yes.  We don't have 

22          authority today.  But again, in terms of -- 

23          the expectation is that they've always 

24          committed and they've actually been good 


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 1          leaders in both of these areas.

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And you talked in 

 3          your testimony about various plans to help 

 4          low-income consumers and protect around 

 5          overzealous utility rates.  We had had a 

 6          conversation maybe a year ago now about 

 7          concerns with ESCOs, and you were working on 

 8          a plan of some sort to better regulate and 

 9          control what they're doing.  Has that moved 

10          forward?  

11                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes, it has moved 

12          forward.  We've made several changes with 

13          respect to ESCOs, and we have a proceeding 

14          pending in front of us now to look at 

15          different regulatory changes with regard to 

16          ESCOs.

17                 In addition, as I mentioned, we've 

18          increased the focus on the consumer advocate 

19          to look at ESCOs and to make sure that we're 

20          weeding out the bad actors.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  My time is up.  

22          Thank you.

23                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.


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 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 2                 Assemblywoman Woerner.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you, 

 4          Mr. Chairman.  Thank you, Commissioner.  

 5                 I have two questions.  The first is 

 6          advanced manufacturing businesses.  And I 

 7          represent Saratoga and Washington County.  

 8          We're happy to be home to Global Foundries 

 9          and hoping, at the Luther Forest Technology 

10          Campus, we will attract more high-technology 

11          semiconductor businesses.  And of course in 

12          the Utica area we've got the Marcy plant now.  

13                 This is a strategic direction from an 

14          economic development perspective to attract 

15          these businesses.  They are, however 

16          significant -- they depend on having 

17          significant quantities and very high quality 

18          power available to them to be interested in 

19          settling in New York.  They also need a 

20          substantial amount of natural gas to 

21          function.  In the Capital District region and 

22          extending out into Utica, we actually have a 

23          power deficit sufficient that it will 

24          probably be a block on attracting those 


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 1          additional businesses.  

 2                 So my question to you is, given that 

 3          our current model says that we don't build 

 4          new capacity until there is a ratepayer, but 

 5          a ratepayer -- i.e., a business -- isn't 

 6          likely to come here unless we have this 

 7          sufficient capacity, is there any thought 

 8          given in how the processes work and how these 

 9          projects are funded to ensure that we -- that 

10          the availability of power and natural gas in 

11          sufficient quantity and quality doesn't 

12          become the roadblock to our strategic 

13          economic development goals?

14                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you, 

15          Assemblywoman Woerner.  

16                 So in terms of that, we work very 

17          closely with Economic Development when we are 

18          aware that a customer wants to site in the 

19          state.  And then if there's an issue in terms 

20          of interconnection, we will work very closely 

21          with the utilities.  Utilities often will 

22          also have economic development grants that 

23          they will give.  And so we try to make 

24          certain that power, whether it's electric or 


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 1          energy, I would say, should never be an 

 2          issue.  

 3                 And so if in fact there are situations 

 4          that you're aware of where it may be a matter 

 5          of concern, please reach out to us, because 

 6          that's something that -- I absolutely agree 

 7          with you -- should never be an impediment to 

 8          someone locating in this state.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  You know, the 

10          challenge of course is that the regulatory 

11          process for building capacity generation or 

12          transmission is about a 10-year process -- so 

13          imagine a very sort of slow flywheel -- where 

14          the economic development process tends to be 

15          a pretty fast gear.  

16                 And so the challenge I think is to 

17          figure out how to sync these things up in a 

18          way that we are building capacity in advance 

19          of having a specific need, so we're not 

20          waiting until somebody has said "I want to 

21          come here."  Because you can't say:  "Oh, 

22          gosh, it's great that you want to site here, 

23          but we need 10 years to get you the power 

24          that you need."


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 1                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  So one of the 

 2          things that we have instituted under REV is a 

 3          program we call distribution system planning.  

 4          And what we're doing is requiring the 

 5          utilities to really put together their 

 6          capital plans and what they envision will be 

 7          the requirements for their system and to make 

 8          that very visible and transparent.

 9                 I think that by having those plans in 

10          place it will also allow commentary about 

11          where people believe there may be further 

12          economic development and where the utilities 

13          may not be aware of what future needs might 

14          be.

15                 The difficulty would be is sort of if 

16          you did a build and they will come, then 

17          you're putting cost onto other ratepayers 

18          that may not be necessary.  So we need to 

19          have a better process.  

20                 We've also instituted a statewide 

21          energy planning process; we're looking at 

22          statewide needs.  But I'm hopeful that this 

23          distribution planning process could shed 

24          better light on what utilities are thinking 


                                                                  319

 1          the growth is, and that may allow communities 

 2          to better say, Well, we think there may be 

 3          more growth or we're attracting more growth 

 4          here, and we can look at that.

 5                 The other aspect of REV which I think 

 6          is relevant here is the increasing use of 

 7          distributed energy resources.  As you know, 

 8          one of the issues is often about 

 9          transportation.  But with REV, we're 

10          beginning to recognize that distributed 

11          generation itself can be reliable not just 

12          for power quality, which becomes a very 

13          important issue for these businesses, but 

14          also to make sure as we're building out the 

15          grid.  And if we have the right economic 

16          signals and we value these resources 

17          appropriately, then we won't be as -- 

18          companies may not be as reliant on the 

19          buildout.  

20                 So I think it's the combination of 

21          much better and much more transparent 

22          information, and the opportunity to use 

23          distributed generation better, can help to 

24          begin to solve this issue.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  One more quick 

 2          question.  

 3                 Anaerobic digesters.  The technology 

 4          has now matured, our producers have perfected 

 5          their practice such that now these digesters 

 6          are actually very reliable base power 

 7          producers.  And yet the producers are still 

 8          paying a demand charge under the current net 

 9          metering standard.  Is there any 

10          consideration being given to exempting 

11          anaerobic digesters from the demand charges?

12                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  One of the things 

13          that the commission is doing under REV is 

14          really relooking as to how we price out the 

15          value of distributed generation on the grid.  

16          Because pricing historically has always been 

17          based on the thought that demand was not 

18          going to be able to be a producer.  Now we 

19          need to really rethink that.  

20                 And so we have a proceeding going on 

21          right now where we're taking a look at how we 

22          price out the value of distributed 

23          generation, and included in that is a 

24          consideration as to are the standby charges 


                                                                  321

 1          appropriate, given what we're trying to do 

 2          relative to the use of distributed generation 

 3          as a primary resource.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Great.  I'm 

 5          glad to hear that.  Thank you very much for 

 6          your time.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 8                 Senator O'Mara.

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  

10                 Thank you, Chairwoman, for being here 

11          with us today.

12                 I'm having a little trouble getting my 

13          arms around the Clean Energy Fund and how 

14          we're spending $5 billion -- it's over a 

15          10-year period; is that correct?  

16                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Correct.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So is that 

18          $500 million a year for 10 years?  

19                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Correct.

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And where is the 

21          source of that money each year?  

22                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  The source is 

23          through ratepayer collections.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So the ratepayers 


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 1          will be paying $500 million --

 2                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Correct.

 3                 SENATOR O'MARA:  -- extra on their 

 4          bills each year.

 5                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, it's not 

 6          really extra.  I think we have to think about 

 7          it in the context that every year ratepayers 

 8          in New York pay on the order of $20 billion 

 9          for energy.  

10                 One of the things that we have 

11          found -- and the commission has been looking 

12          at energy efficiency for a long time -- is 

13          that investment in energy efficiency is 

14          actually a way for ratepayers to save money, 

15          because what you're really doing is investing 

16          in demand savings.  And anything we can do in 

17          terms of conservation avoids the need of 

18          having to build more power plants, 

19          transmission and distribution.  

20                 So as we identify in our order, by 

21          investing $5 billion in helping consumers 

22          save energy we're going to realize, with that 

23          NYSERDA is going to be doing, a potential of 

24          $39 billion in bill savings.  


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 1                 So rather than an additional amount, 

 2          it's actually a way of saving having to 

 3          otherwise increase the amount of money we 

 4          spend on generation, transmission and 

 5          distribution.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  What is happening 

 7          with the charges such as the RPS, SBC, EEPS, 

 8          and 18-a?  Are they continuing on the 

 9          customer's bill as well?  

10                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, if I can 

11          take them in sequence.

12                 So one of the things we've done with 

13          the Clean Energy Fund is it actually reduces 

14          the charges that today are in the system 

15          benefit charges and for the RPS.  So as I 

16          mentioned in my opening statement, 

17          immediately we're looking at a $91 million 

18          savings in 2016, and over the five-year 

19          period of $1.5 billion --

20                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Ten year.

21                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  -- 10-year 

22          period, thank you, it will be $1.5 billion.  

23          So those charges are going down.

24                 With respect to the energy efficiency 


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 1          charges, those are continuing.  These are 

 2          utility programs.  But we've also capped 

 3          those.  And that we're expecting again, with 

 4          REV, that we'll begin to think about how 

 5          energy efficiency and these types of 

 6          distributed energy resources really can 

 7          become highly valuable for customers and be 

 8          really part of a business and take them away 

 9          from mandated charges but really become the 

10          way people both consume and use energy.

11                 So the whole idea behind REV is to 

12          really animate third-party capital and take 

13          down these charges over time.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  What figure did you 

15          say is currently collected annually in these 

16          fees?

17                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  The current 

18          collection is --

19                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  The current 

20          collection in -- sorry.  In the year 2015, 

21          current enough, the collections were 

22          approximately $925 million in total, of which 

23          $250 million were administered and spent by 

24          utilities and of which $675 million were 


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 1          administered through NYSERDA in the portfolio 

 2          of acronyms that you just rattled through -- 

 3          TMDC, EEPS, RPS and the like.  That 675, as 

 4          Chair Zibelman mentioned, is immediately 

 5          going down in the year 2016 by $91 million, 

 6          to around 585.  And meanwhile, the utility 

 7          layer of that stack is also beginning to go 

 8          down.

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  But isn't that 

10          $91 million of savings going to be replaced 

11          with a new fee for the Clean Energy Fund on 

12          the customer's bill?

13                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  No, sir.  The 

14          $5 billion over 10 years is made up of 

15          10 years of fees.  And the first year of fees 

16          is already lower than last year's fee by 91, 

17          and it continues to go down from there.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  And those are 

19          directly on the customer's bill that they 

20          get, this fee that's line-itemed on their 

21          energy bills they get and businesses get as 

22          well.

23                 With -- I lost my train of thought 

24          now.  My time is up, but I'll take another 


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 1          five minutes.

 2                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I'm around.

 3                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yeah, I know you will 

 4          be.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Assembly?  

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Mr. Otis.  

 7          Assemblyman Otis.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you, 

 9          Mr. Chair.  

10                 I just wanted to touch base on the 

11          broadband issue.  And I know the Governor has 

12          a big initiative and a big RFP that's out to 

13          deal with expanding broadband.  

14                 One issue that I hear from residents 

15          about is concern about accessibility to the 

16          Lifeline low-income broadband program, 

17          whether it be -- so that's sort of different 

18          than the big program; it's people that 

19          already are in areas that have broadband, but 

20          they can't afford it.  

21                 Issues being what's the price point, 

22          and also how wide is the eligibility.  Some 

23          view the eligibility where this is offered, 

24          here and around the country, as sometimes 


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 1          very narrow.  But for especially 

 2          schoolchildren who need that to, you know, 

 3          compete and grow, educationally it's 

 4          important.  

 5                 And so I'm just curious as to whether 

 6          in the merger situation, or more broadly as 

 7          Public Service Commission policy, where we're 

 8          going on that and can we improve the world 

 9          for low-income families and seniors related 

10          to that.

11                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you, 

12          Assemblyman Otis.  

13                 So yes, we can improve.  So the issue 

14          of the digital divide is a major -- is a real 

15          concern of the commission as we become 

16          increasingly dependent on broadband.  

17                 In the Time Warner merger, there is 

18          actually a commitment to offer a low-cost, 

19          relatively high speed broadband service for 

20          low-income customers.  And it's expanded -- 

21          it's the first time we've had this in this 

22          state, and eligible will be school-aged 

23          children in families eligible for school 

24          lunch, and Social Security recipients of -- 


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 1          older than 65 seniors.  So that I think will 

 2          be very helpful.

 3                 We're also looking at this issue in 

 4          association with our own telecommunications 

 5          study as to how we start to bridge the 

 6          divide.  Because, you know, clearly, as 

 7          there's been a convergence on technology, 

 8          access to broadband at an affordable rate, 

 9          but, more importantly, education around the 

10          value of broadband becomes an important 

11          matter.  

12                 We work very closely with the 

13          broadband office to take a look at how we can 

14          do that.  And then we're also aware that the 

15          FCC is looking at expanding Lifeline for 

16          broadband, which is really a very welcomed 

17          addition and something that we will be 

18          working on.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you very 

20          much.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG: Thank you.  

22                 Senator Hoylman.

23                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you, Madam 

24          Chair.  And good afternoon.


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 1                 Following up on your discussion of 

 2          broadband and the Time Warner Cable-Charter 

 3          Communications merger, what other concessions 

 4          did you receive in your approval for that 

 5          merger?  Because one of the concerns -- it's 

 6          a concern I hear a lot; I'm sure my 

 7          colleagues do as well -- is customer service 

 8          from our cable companies.  Cable's too 

 9          expensive, you have to wait hours for the 

10          repair service, and then you often don't get 

11          what you want.  

12                 All of this clearly has to do with the 

13          lack of competition, because, let's face it, 

14          the cable companies were basically gifted, 

15          you know, these monopolies by historic 

16          accident.

17                 What else can we expect to see in the 

18          Time Warner-Charter merger that will help my 

19          constituents with customer service?  

20                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you, 

21          Senator Hoylman.

22                 A number of things.  So in the Time 

23          Warner merger, we have a very specific 

24          condition around customer service.  We're 


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 1          requiring them to show about a 35 percent 

 2          reduction in complaints around customer 

 3          service.  Because that's something we hear 

 4          about a lot, is that people are complaining 

 5          about cable service.  

 6                 The other thing that we've done is 

 7          required them to maintain the 14.99 

 8          entry-level broadband cable service that 

 9          Time Warner has today.  That's the everyday 

10          low price for customers who are already on 

11          it, and we're grandfathering them for three 

12          years, and then for new customers for at 

13          least two years.  You know, we certainly 

14          didn't want to lose that service.

15                 They also have agreed to offer a 

16          stand-alone broadband at a single price 

17          statewide.  That's very important, because 

18          what we often see is that downstate, where 

19          there's a lot of competition, you'll have 

20          very different prices than upstate.  By 

21          having a statewide price, we'll have the 

22          advantage of competition, which should also 

23          help customers, and that's a very good 

24          stand-alone speed.


                                                                  331

 1                 Then of course the other major issue 

 2          for us is access, and that's where we have 

 3          the commitment that they will build out 

 4          within their footprint at 100 megabits by 

 5          2018 and 300 megabits by 2019.  That is 

 6          extremely significant from the state's 

 7          perspective because, as Assemblywoman Russell 

 8          stated, we don't want to have haves and 

 9          have-nots in terms of broadband speed 

10          throughout the state.

11                 So the combination of what we've 

12          gotten from Time Warner plus the work of the 

13          broadband office and the RFP they're letting 

14          makes us believe that we're going to have, 

15          statewide, people having broadband speeds of 

16          at least a 100 megabytes {sic} in the next 

17          several years, which is huge.

18                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  That's terrific.  

19          Are you aware that Time-Warner Cable has 

20          really fallen behind its competitors in terms 

21          of providing access to the blind and visually 

22          impaired?  They don't generally provide 

23          television guides and documents written in 

24          Braille, they don't have font-size options 


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 1          for on-screen menus, they don't have talking 

 2          menus or talking guides for the visually 

 3          impaired.

 4                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  I am aware of 

 5          that.  As a matter of fact, our consumer 

 6          advocate is visually impaired, and he's 

 7          brought that to my attention.

 8                 One of the things that we're doing 

 9          through our telecommunications study is 

10          really looking at service quality and service 

11          issues, and that is a matter of concern as we 

12          move forward.

13                 SENATOR HOYLMAN:  Thank you very much.

14                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Mm-hmm.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

16                 Assemblyman Kavanagh.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Thank you, 

18          Mr. Chairman.  

19                 So several of my questions have been 

20          answered.  I'm blessed in my district with 

21          not one but three senators who represent my 

22          constituents, and a couple of them are here.  

23          And particularly Senator Hoylman just covered 

24          some of our concerns regarding cable service.  


                                                                  333

 1                 I actually just want to follow up a 

 2          little bit on that.  In 2014, the Legislature 

 3          passed and the Governor signed legislation 

 4          that expressly indicated that public-interest 

 5          factors should be considered in the review of 

 6          mergers of cable companies.  And I'm just 

 7          wondering, first, does the legislation 

 8          itself -- I mean, we've talked a little bit 

 9          about various issues that are in the public 

10          interest.  

11                 Does that standard affect the way you 

12          have reviewed mergers and are viewing the 

13          upcoming merger that's before you now, and is 

14          that -- given that that bill sunsets, is that 

15          something that we ought to be continuing 

16          legislatively?

17                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, certainly 

18          it has helped our review.  I mean, in terms 

19          of -- the standard previously was really a 

20          no-harm standard.  Now the burden is on the 

21          company to show net public benefit.  And as a 

22          result of that standard, it's why the 

23          commission took a look at the Time 

24          Warner-Charter merger, to make sure that it's 


                                                                  334

 1          not simply just even, or what it was, but 

 2          actually that you could show true public 

 3          benefit.  And I think it's a very important 

 4          standard.  

 5                 In terms of whether or not it would be 

 6          helpful in the future, that's something I 

 7          would have to get back to you on, because I'm 

 8          not quite sure how many more of these we 

 9          would have.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Because we'll 

11          all end up with one giant cable company, 

12          right?  

13                 And, you know, as I think you can 

14          tell, there's a lot of concern among 

15          legislators about -- although we're all, I 

16          think, just beginning to look at what's the 

17          Altice situation.  But a lot of concern on 

18          that.  

19                 I also just wanted -- we've had a lot 

20          of coverage of the energy issues.  I think I 

21          may have an additional question for President 

22          Rhodes on that.  But just acknowledge that, 

23          you know, the administration is doing a lot 

24          to get -- to impose standards and move 


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 1          towards some very -- a lot of these targets 

 2          that the Governor has announced in the last 

 3          few months are very ambitious, and I think 

 4          suitably so, given the climate change 

 5          challenges.

 6                 I also want to -- as one of the people 

 7          that pushed for a thorough review of the 

 8          telecommunications industry, I just want 

 9          acknowledge in your testimony you mentioned 

10          these technical conferences which are coming 

11          up I guess right after the legislative break.  

12          And I just wonder, at this point you haven't 

13          indicated who will be participating in those.  

14          Can you talk about just what the scope of 

15          those will be and how you expect them to 

16          inform your decision-making going forward?  

17                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Certainly.  We 

18          have several -- the way we use technical 

19          conferences is that we invite industry 

20          experts in to talk about topical issues.  And 

21          we have sent out the solicitation and have 

22          asked experts in the industry, academics, 

23          et cetera, policy experts to really nominate, 

24          and then we look to put together panels that 


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 1          represent diverse interests around subject 

 2          matters.

 3                 The broad areas of things that are of 

 4          most concern to the commissioners, one is the 

 5          question of technological convergence.  And 

 6          that's really what we're talking about in 

 7          terms of these mergers.  Since we began 

 8          looking at telecommunications, broadband has 

 9          become the primary vehicle of voice, data and 

10          content communications.  And the question is, 

11          how do you, with FCC and state policies, how 

12          do we move forward and modernize our 

13          telecommunications regulation in light of 

14          this technological convergence.  Not unlike 

15          what we're seeing in electric, things have 

16          changed; what do we need to do to make sure 

17          that these changes are to the benefit of 

18          consumers.

19                 We are also looking at the issues of 

20          standards of service.  That became a major 

21          issue for us.  We hear this from consumers.  

22          We've talked about people don't like their 

23          cable providers, they're concerned, they 

24          don't feel like they're getting adequate 


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 1          service.  What should we doing as a state to 

 2          make sure that consumer needs are being met?  

 3                 Different than electric, we do not 

 4          price regulate anymore in telecommunications, 

 5          but we do look at competition.  We want to 

 6          make sure the markets are competitive, and we 

 7          worry about service quality and adequacy of 

 8          service.  And of course we're always worried 

 9          about the needs of low-income, and make sure 

10          that those are being addressed. 

11                 So it's those subject matters we'll be 

12          delving into, we'll be seeking advice, and 

13          then we would have additional processes after 

14          that to determine how to use that information 

15          to start crafting the steps forward.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  And the 

17          reliability and quality of the legacy copper 

18          network is also part of that review; is that 

19          correct? 

20                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Certainly.  One 

21          of the issues that is clearly a matter that 

22          has gotten quite a bit of attention is 

23          whether or not the copper network is being 

24          sufficiently maintained or whether the FIOS, 


                                                                  338

 1          the fiber network, is replacing it at a pace 

 2          that is appropriate.  So that certainly is a 

 3          matter of concern to the commission and is 

 4          one of the specific questions that we've 

 5          asked people to address in the technical 

 6          conference.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Okay, thank 

 8          you.

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

10                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator O'Mara.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Sorry.  Can we just 

13          go back quickly to the RPS, the SBC and the 

14          EEPS.  My understanding, those were all set 

15          to expire at the end of February this year.  

16          So those are not expiring, they're being -- 

17          or they're expiring and they're being 

18          replaced with the Clean Energy Fund additions 

19          to the utility bill.

20                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes.  Yes.  I 

21          mean, the commission has long looked at 

22          energy efficiency and clean energy as really 

23          very much a valuable resource.  As you know, 

24          our job as the economic regulator is to make 


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 1          sure that energy services are reliable, 

 2          low-cost, resilient and secure.  One of the 

 3          things that is absolutely clear is that -- 

 4          with technological changes is that we can 

 5          both make certain that we are meeting the 

 6          economic needs of consumers and the 

 7          environmental needs of the state in a way 

 8          that's both economically and environmentally 

 9          sustainable.  

10                 So what we see as the Clean Energy 

11          Fund is an ability to invest in energy 

12          efficiency and clean energy that produces 

13          significant net benefits that we couldn't 

14          otherwise achieve, and that therefore helps 

15          us reduce rates and bills going forward 

16          rather than increase them.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, it's my 

18          understanding that NYPA and LIPA customers 

19          are going to be treated differently than the 

20          customers of other utilities in the state as 

21          far as the costs itemized on their utility 

22          bills.  Can you explain how those are being 

23          handled and why they're being handled 

24          differently?  


                                                                  340

 1                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, again, NYPA 

 2          and LIPA are not subject to the regulation of 

 3          the Public Service Commission.  LIPA actually 

 4          manages, has its own programs around energy 

 5          efficiency and clean energy, and so they 

 6          include those in their charges.

 7                 In terms of NYPA, they have obviously 

 8          a great deal of hydro and also have a great 

 9          deal of commitments to renewable energy.  And 

10          I think NYPA would be happy to come in and 

11          talk to you about what they're doing in that 

12          regard.  I will commit them to that.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  I would 

14          appreciate that, because this is very 

15          complex.

16                 Of all this, of the Clean Energy Fund 

17          and of REV, what is the Legislature's role in 

18          the decision-making?  It seems that it's all 

19          in your hands at the Public Service 

20          Commission.

21                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, the role of 

22          the Public Service Commission, again, is to 

23          set utility rates.  And in making that 

24          determination, it's important for us to take 


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 1          a look at what is the best use of ratepayer 

 2          funds.  So consistent with that view, what 

 3          we're looking at is how do we make sure, as 

 4          technology has evolved, when we take a look 

 5          at energy efficiency, reduced cost of 

 6          distributed generation and clean generation, 

 7          that we're taking advantage of that so we're 

 8          meeting both our environmental and our 

 9          economic needs.  

10                 So to us, this has been a long part of 

11          our regulatory objective of really making 

12          sure that utility rates are set at a level 

13          that is essentially reasonably priced while 

14          providing reliable, clean and cost effective 

15          and resilient services.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  From the $5 billion 

17          being invested over 10 years, you're 

18          anticipating a $39 billion customer bill 

19          savings.  What if any cost-benefit analysis 

20          has the PSC gone through in reaching that 

21          conclusion?  And is that analysis available 

22          to us to review?

23                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  NYSERDA, of 

24          course, proposed the $5 billion and in their 


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 1          petition identified how they are going to 

 2          achieve the $39 billion in savings.  I'm 

 3          certain that my colleague Mr. Rhodes will be 

 4          able to talk to you in detail about how they 

 5          put together their analysis.  The commission 

 6          reviewed it.  

 7                 But most importantly, what the 

 8          commission has said in the Clean Energy Fund 

 9          is that what we want NYSERDA to do moving 

10          forward is, for each of these types of 

11          programs, develop essentially what is an 

12          investment plan, identify exactly how they're 

13          going to achieve the savings, how they're 

14          going to be measured, what the programs are 

15          going to be, and then we will monitor them.  

16          Because our role as a regulatory agency is to 

17          make sure that NYSERDA, just like utilities, 

18          are accountable for the targets that they set 

19          out, and that we oversee that to make sure 

20          they're achieved and, if they're not being 

21          achieved, that the program is changed to make 

22          sure we do achieve them.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So then, I guess in a 

24          nutshell, the cost-benefit analysis that's 


                                                                  343

 1          been done and reviewed by the PSC was done by 

 2          NYSERDA, PSC has reviewed it and accepted it 

 3          at this point? 

 4                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  NYSERDA proposed 

 5          it, the staff at the PSC reviewed it, they 

 6          found that the analysis was reasonable.  

 7                 We certainly know from our own history 

 8          with energy efficiency that investments in 

 9          energy efficiency have produced significant 

10          value for consumers and that as we go forward 

11          with the changes that NYSERDA is proposing to 

12          make -- which were changes that the 

13          commission asked them to do -- we believe and 

14          we're very confident that we will not only 

15          meet them but exceed them.  That's our 

16          expectation.  

17                 And I think that these programs, as 

18          John Rhodes will tell you, are really a 

19          substantial and valuable change for the 

20          state.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And finally -- my 

22          time is out again, but I'm going to get one 

23          last question in.  

24                 With regards to your comments on the 


                                                                  344

 1          cost of natural gas being at all-time lows, 

 2          what is in the plans, whether it's through 

 3          REV or the Clean Energy Fund, of utilizing 

 4          cleaner natural gas in the future of power 

 5          generation in New York State?

 6                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, as you're 

 7          aware, several years ago the Legislature 

 8          passed a statute that required the 

 9          commission, when we looked at coal plants, 

10          that we support repowering and that we 

11          consider not only the system benefits but 

12          also local economic benefits, because of its 

13          importance to the state.  And that is exactly 

14          the statute that we looked at when Dunkirk 

15          proposed repowering to us.

16                 So that is something that the 

17          Legislature has already done.  And with the 

18          Governor's proposal that we eliminate coal, 

19          we also are encouraging the remaining coal 

20          plants to take a look at repowering, take 

21          advantage of these low natural gas prices.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Do you have any 

24          more questions?  Because you are doing double 


                                                                  345

 1          duty for Senator Griffo also.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  For Mr. Griffo today.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  If you had one more 

 4          question, right.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, I've got more 

 6          than one, but --

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I mean, I do 

 9          recognize the goals of getting to cleaner, 

10          clean energy.  I think that in our 

11          foreseeable future, natural gas will play a 

12          role in that.  And we shouldn't be ignoring 

13          what is now a lower-cost energy than anything 

14          else, to replace that with higher-cost 

15          energy, be it renewable or otherwise.  

16                 Nuclear should be a strong part of 

17          that as well, based on the lack of emissions 

18          in that process.  But I think a balanced and 

19          diversified portfolio of energy supplies is 

20          going to be much more secure for us going 

21          forward in New York than putting all of our 

22          eggs into one basket.  

23                 Thank you.

24                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.  


                                                                  346

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman 

 3          Abinanti.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Before that, I 

 5          would like to note that Senator Kathy 

 6          Marchione has joined us.  Thank you.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Thank you, 

 8          Mr. Chairman.  Thank you both for giving 

 9          somewhat clear explanations of very complex 

10          subjects.

11                 I'd like to -- maybe I should just 

12          start with President Rhodes.  Where do you 

13          get your monies from?  What's the funding 

14          source?

15                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So as Chair 

16          Zibelman explained, a significant and major 

17          funding source for us is our ratepayer 

18          collections, and so --

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Is that what we 

20          call the systems energy charge?

21                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So that's the 

22          systems benefit charge, that's the Energy 

23          Efficiency Portfolio Standard, that's the 

24          Renewable Portfolio Standard, that's the 


                                                                  347

 1          technology and market development charge.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Now, are those 

 3          all going to disappear and be now called 

 4          something else?  Or are you going to call 

 5          them the same thing?

 6                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  They will be 

 7          succeeded by a unitary single collection in 

 8          the Clean Energy Fund.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Okay.  So for 

10          those of us who are not as steeped in this as 

11          you are, let me see if I can understand this.  

12                 So we're basically going to be 

13          reducing the amount of money that's collected 

14          on the bill and the amount of money that goes 

15          to you to do the things that you've been 

16          doing?

17                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Correct.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Now, how much 

19          money have you set aside, for example, in the 

20          past, year by year, for the -- you were 

21          talking about the solar, for a residential 

22          solar program.  How much money was set aside 

23          for that in 2015, 2014?

24                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I'm sorry, I don't 


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 1          understand the "set aside" aspect of that.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Well, my 

 3          understanding is you have a limit on how much 

 4          you'll give out.  So residential customers 

 5          will apply for solar benefits, tax benefits, 

 6          et cetera, but there's only a certain amount 

 7          for that year, and when you hit that limit, 

 8          you stop, you tell them to come back next 

 9          year.

10                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Right.  So --

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  So how much did 

12          you set aside for 2014-2015?  

13                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Let me get back to 

14          you with the details on that.  

15                 I will just note that the example you 

16          asked about, which was solar, actually works 

17          in a different way than you're assuming.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Okay.  Well, 

19          what I'm concerned about is that while we are 

20          reducing ratepayer charges, we're also 

21          reducing revenue to the State of New York to 

22          do all of these great things that you're 

23          talking about.  

24                 And so I am concerned that while it's 


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 1          off-budget, NYSERDA will not have the money 

 2          necessary -- because we don't get a chance to 

 3          ask you the questions and supervise -- I am 

 4          concerned that you won't have the monies 

 5          available to do all of these great things.  I 

 6          mean, you're talking about a Green Bank, 

 7          you're talking about the Governor's programs, 

 8          but we're going to be taking a billion and a 

 9          half dollars out -- and maybe more, because 

10          I'm not quite understanding all of the 

11          details here.  You're moving RGGI funds in to 

12          substitute for monies that you would have had 

13          from ratepayers, et cetera.  It's very 

14          complex.  I see all the shells going around.  

15                 But in the end, it looks like we're 

16          going to have less money to spend on 

17          environmentally sound programs.  Is that 

18          true?

19                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We're going to get 

20          more done with the less money.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Well, we're 

22          going to have less money.

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  And we're going to 

24          do a better job of achieving those energy 


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 1          goals and those environmental goals.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  But why can't 

 3          we do it better and keep the amount the same?

 4                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  So the other 

 5          aspect of what we're doing, because this is 

 6          all part of a plan to really think about how 

 7          you integrate in clean energy into the mix.  

 8          So it no longer just simply has to be a 

 9          government subsidy, because we can't really 

10          afford to get everything we want done just 

11          through ratepayers, it's to really think 

12          about how you create markets.  

13                 So for example, one of the areas that 

14          we're looking at in the Renewable Energy 

15          Vision change is making sure that when we 

16          have customers who are able to use 

17          distributed resources like solar, like 

18          batteries, and they can take their 

19          consumption off of the grid at the times we 

20          want it to go off -- because prices are 

21          high -- they get paid for it.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Right.  But 

23          aren't we better off -- if I may, because I'm 

24          running out of time -- aren't we better off 


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 1          using grant programs which we can track, 

 2          rather than lowering it at the front end 

 3          where everybody gets the benefit, including 

 4          those who are not helping in the ultimate 

 5          goal?  

 6                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  What we're seeing 

 7          in the market is there are many, many 

 8          customers who want to do these things 

 9          voluntarily.  You know, people want clean 

10          energy.  What we need to do is really reward 

11          them for that.  And so part of the pieces of 

12          what we're looking at is the grid used to be 

13          built around this idea of the only thing we 

14          want is big power plants.  Now, we're saying 

15          no, we want both of those.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  No, no, I 

17          understand what you're saying.  But I'm just 

18          suggesting that I would prefer to see the 

19          approach that you use the grant programs, 

20          just like the Governor is trying to entice 

21          companies from out of state by targeted grant 

22          programs, rather than giving this benefit to 

23          all consumers, all ratepayers, some of whom 

24          may actually be working contrary to your 


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 1          ultimate environmental goals.  

 2                 So that's the only thing I would put 

 3          on the table and suggest that maybe you 

 4          reconsider reducing these rates.  Keep the 

 5          rates at the level they're at and keep doing 

 6          the programs you're doing and add more, once 

 7          you become even more sufficient.  

 8                 The other thing that I'm concerned 

 9          about -- and I see that I'm out of time -- is 

10          that I'm understanding that these monies in 

11          the past used to be held by you, but a lot of 

12          these monies in the Clean Energy Fund are now 

13          going to be held by somebody else.  Are 

14          utilities going to be holding these monies?

15                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  One of the things 

16          that -- do you want me to --

17                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We can either 

18          answer, yeah.

19                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  One of the things 

20          the commission did is rather than having 

21          NYSERDA just hold those monies, is that the 

22          utilities will continue to collect those 

23          monies and put them in an interest-bearing 

24          account, with the interest being returned to 


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 1          ratepayers, and then NYSERDA accesses the 

 2          monies when in fact they need them.  We felt 

 3          that was a much more efficient use, and it 

 4          gave the ratepayers the value of having the 

 5          interest-bearing accounts.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  What was wrong 

 7          with you guys holding the money like you did 

 8          before?  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Thank 

10          you.

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Marchione.

13                 SENATOR MARCHIONE:  Thank you.  

14                 I have a couple of questions.  The 

15          first is on solar energy.  I know a lot of 

16          people who have had their home reviewed to 

17          see whether or not they could put solar 

18          panels on their roofs to offset their bills.  

19                 My question is, why are they only 

20          allowed to offset their own bills?  If this 

21          is renewable energy and this is good for the 

22          environment, why are they not allowed to put 

23          solar energy that's excess capacity and be 

24          able to help our environment even more?  It 


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 1          seems very counterproductive to me to allow 

 2          residents to do this but only allow them to 

 3          offset their own bill.

 4                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So I can answer 

 5          more broadly, if I may.  

 6                 The commission I believe in May passed 

 7          essentially a shared solar ruling, which 

 8          permits customers to take advantage of solar 

 9          even if they don't themselves have a roof 

10          that is suitable for solar.  So this is a way 

11          of a customer receiving the benefits of 

12          solar, including the bill-offsetting 

13          benefits, mainly including the 

14          bill-offsetting benefits, from a solar 

15          installation that could be somewhere 

16          else, possibly on someone else's roof but 

17          possibly on a field somewhere else.

18                 It provides the benefit that you are 

19          addressing.  It also, very meaningfully, 

20          addresses the reality that the proportion of 

21          suitable-for-solar roofs in the state is 

22          somewhere in the 20 to 25 percent range, so 

23          that 70 to 75 percent of roofs are not 

24          suitable because they are the wrong shape, 


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 1          the wrong angle, the wrong condition, they're 

 2          tree-shaded, the buildings are occupied by 

 3          renters.  And this is a really forceful 

 4          decision by the Governor and by the 

 5          commission back in May that addresses that 

 6          issue.

 7                 SENATOR MARCHIONE:  So what you said, 

 8          let me repeat so I make sure I've understood.  

 9          The ruling was changed this summer that if I 

10          had a suitable roof that could give me 200 

11          percent of what I pay, then that is now 

12          acceptable.  

13                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  We have -- if I 

14          could add to what Mr. Rhodes stated.  To the 

15          extent that a customer puts on photovoltaic 

16          on their roof and they have excess energy, 

17          there is a compensation scheme from the 

18          utilities for if they're actually net 

19          exporting.  But there are issues in terms 

20          of -- the concept of net metering is really a 

21          reduction against your total load.  So if you 

22          size it that it's more in your exporting, 

23          that creates a different set of issues for 

24          the grid.  


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 1                 And so I would have to really, you 

 2          know, understand what the specifics of the 

 3          case are.  

 4                 The other issue that we're dealing 

 5          with or the other opportunity we're looking 

 6          at is how do you create, you know, community 

 7          solar type programs.  And if you have a 

 8          customer who really has property that allows 

 9          for more of an export, how they can really 

10          benefit their neighbors and think about it as 

11          a community program rather than an individual 

12          program.

13                 SENATOR MARCHIONE:  And I think that's 

14          where we should be going.  

15                 You know, I had my own roof reviewed; 

16          I can't have solar.  I have too many trees on 

17          my lot.  But my neighbor down the street 

18          could supply himself and myself and get the 

19          benefit for that, and currently that's not 

20          happening.  And I think if we really, truly 

21          care about renewable energy, that needs to 

22          happen.

23                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes.

24                 SENATOR MARCHIONE:  Secondly, on 


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 1          broadband.  I have many areas within my 

 2          district, I'm in the 43rd District, that have 

 3          great need to have broadband.  Other parts of 

 4          my district have real need for cell towers 

 5          for safety.  Sometimes you can't hear the 

 6          ambulance calls.  I mean, they get dropped.  

 7                 Is the broadband money placed in there 

 8          also going to be used for cell towers?  

 9                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  It's not my 

10          understanding that it is going to be used for 

11          cell towers, but let me get back to you on 

12          that.

13                 SENATOR MARCHIONE:  Please do, because 

14          it's very important.  As it was going 

15          through, I kept promoting that the health and 

16          safety of our residents needs to be both, not 

17          in all areas but in some of our areas.  And 

18          not being able to hear an ambulance call is 

19          critical.  So if not, please let me know 

20          that, so I can start advocating again.

21                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Okay.  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.  

23                 At this time, because President Rhodes 

24          hasn't had the opportunity to give his 


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 1          remarks, we would like to do that.  I know 

 2          there's a lot of, you know, cross- 

 3          relationships between the agency and the 

 4          Public Service Commission.  So at this point 

 5          I'd like to have you give your testimony, and 

 6          then if the members have any other follow-up, 

 7          we could go there.

 8                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you very 

 9          much.  

10                 So good afternoon, Chair Young, 

11          Chair Farrell, members of the committees.  I 

12          join in Audrey's thoughts on behalf of 

13          Senator Griffo, and I thank you for the 

14          opportunity to testify before you today.  I 

15          am John Rhodes, and I serve as president and 

16          CEO of the New York State Energy Research and 

17          Development Authority, NYSERDA.  

18                 Chair Zibelman in her statement laid 

19          out Governor Cuomo's key energy initiatives, 

20          including Reforming the Energy Vision and the 

21          Clean Energy Standard.  I will pick up with a 

22          discussion of NYSERDA's 10-year, $5 billion 

23          Clean Energy Fund.  The Clean Energy Fund 

24          will support these initiatives.  It will 


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 1          support the nation-leading Clean Energy 

 2          Standard by accelerating the adoption of 

 3          energy efficiency to reduce the demand for 

 4          electricity while increasing renewable energy 

 5          to meet that demand.  

 6                 It will support REV with a focus on 

 7          four primary outcomes: reducing greenhouse 

 8          gas emissions, mobilizing private-sector 

 9          capital, achieving energy savings, and 

10          achieving customer energy bill savings.  

11                 The Clean Energy Fund consists of four 

12          portfolios:  market development, innovation 

13          and research, NY-Sun and NY Green Bank.  

14                 Market development is focused on 

15          reducing costs and accelerating the uptake of 

16          energy-saving energy efficiency and 

17          cost-effective behind-the-meter solutions, 

18          such as storage, while increasing private 

19          investment levels.  Market development also 

20          specifically supports programs that provide 

21          benefit to low-to-moderate income households, 

22          including a commitment of at least 

23          $230 million over the first three years of 

24          the Clean Energy Fund. 


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 1                 The innovation and research portfolio 

 2          drives clean business growth across five key 

 3          areas -- smart grid technology, renewables, 

 4          high performance buildings, transportation, 

 5          and clean-tech startups -- to meet the 

 6          increasing demand for clean energy and to 

 7          bring new economic development to New York 

 8          State.  

 9                 NY-Sun, the Governorís $1 billion 

10          commitment to solar, creates a 

11          self-sustaining solar power market in 

12          New York, reducing and ultimately eliminating 

13          incentives as the industry builds to scale.  

14          NY-Sun is an example of REV in action.  

15                 Under Governor Cuomo, solar deployed 

16          in New York has grown 300 percent through 

17          2014.  More than 7,200 New Yorkers worked in 

18          the solar industry in 2014, an increase of 

19          more than 2,000 jobs from 2013.  Our 

20          strategies are working.  

21                 NY Green Bank, the largest green bank 

22          in the nation, works to leverage 

23          private-sector capital into clean energy.  To 

24          date, NY Green Bank has received over 


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 1          $1 billion in investment proposals and has an 

 2          active pipeline of roughly -- and I need to 

 3          correct this -- $400 million.  In 2015, NY 

 4          Green Bank closed $54 million in commitments 

 5          in four high-impact, first-of-their-kind 

 6          deals.  These deals leveraged private-sector 

 7          capital at a rate of up to 5 to 1, and we 

 8          anticipate ultimate leverage as high as 8 to 

 9          1.  

10                 The Clean Energy Fund portfolio is 

11          needed to achieve better greenhouse gas, 

12          energy, and bill savings by doing more with 

13          less.  I recall Chair Zibelmanís points -- 

14          $91 million in ratepayer collections 

15          reductions in 2016; a total of $1.5 billion 

16          in ratepayer reductions by 2025; $39 billion 

17          in lifetime bill savings; and $29 billion in 

18          private capital leveraged over the lifetime 

19          of the Clean Energy Fund.  

20                 NYSERDA continues to streamline 

21          operations to become easier to work with. 

22          Applications for residential solar, our 

23          single highest-volume program, are now 

24          approved within three days, down from 


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 1          28 days.  We've cut the cycle time for other 

 2          processes by 50 percent up to two-thirds.  An 

 3          application by a homeowner to receive a free 

 4          audit can now be completed online, and by a 

 5          typical homeowner in less than five minutes. 

 6                 Now to the Executive Budget.  For 

 7          nearly four decades, NYSERDA has protected 

 8          New York State interests at the West Valley 

 9          Demonstration Project in Cattaraugus County.  

10          The 2016 Executive Budget recommends 

11          $13.5 million for ongoing nuclear waste 

12          cleanup work at West Valley, an increase of 

13          about $900,000 over last yearís budget.  Our 

14          costs at West Valley are largely dictated by 

15          a federal match requirement, and this amount 

16          reflects the funding level necessary to match 

17          the federal appropriation during the 2016 

18          federal fiscal year. 

19                 The 2016 Executive budget provides 

20          $19.7 million in funding for NYSERDA to 

21          continue energy research and development and 

22          statewide energy planning and analysis 

23          activities.  As a public benefit corporation, 

24          NYSERDA understands the importance of full 


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 1          disclosure of its investments made on behalf 

 2          of the public and for transparency and 

 3          oversight.  NYSERDA has built a robust 

 4          reporting regime that reflects existing 

 5          legislative, administrative, and regulatory 

 6          requirements, including fiscal-year-end 

 7          annual financial statements, annual budget 

 8          and financial plan, Green Jobs-Green NY 

 9          annual report, quarterly program progress 

10          reports, and significant reporting to the 

11          Authorities Budget Office.  

12                 NYSERDA works on periodic audits with 

13          the State Comptrollerís office, and the 

14          findings from these audits are made public 

15          and provide valuable insight toward improving 

16          our procedures and internal controls.  

17                 Further, the new semi-annual reports 

18          that were included as part of last yearís 

19          budget provide for more frequent and detailed 

20          reporting, with regional breakdowns by county 

21          and utility service territory, for 

22          solicitations, for awards, for expenditures, 

23          and for commitments.  

24                 A clean, affordable, reliable energy 


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 1          system is essential to the health of New York 

 2          State's economy and to our environment.  We 

 3          have the global talent, the natural 

 4          resources, the global financial markets and a 

 5          history of innovation all based here.  And 

 6          under Governor Cuomo, we are putting those 

 7          resources to work today.  

 8                 This concludes my opening remarks. I 

 9          would be happy to continue to take questions 

10          that you may have.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

12                 Any questions from Senators?

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Oh, wait, no, it is 

15          your turn.

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblywoman 

17          Lifton.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you, 

19          Mr. Chair.  

20                 Hello, Ms. Zibelman -- is that 

21          correct?

22                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Zibelman or 

23          Zeebelman. I respond to just about anything.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I'm a former 


                                                                  365

 1          English teacher; I always want to try to get 

 2          the pronunciation right.  

 3                 Ms. Zibelman, welcome.  And to 

 4          Mr. Rhodes.  

 5                 I'm thrilled to hear the discussion 

 6          about energy efficiency reducing demand, the 

 7          importance of our environmental goals.  As 

 8          you know, I've called for the closure of the 

 9          coal plants and not repowering with natural 

10          gas.  

11                 You know, New Yorkers beat back 

12          fracking, you know, for a number of reasons, 

13          many, many reasons, but certainly with 

14          concerns about the methane, the fugitive 

15          methane.  That's a tremendous contributor to 

16          climate change, as we now know, and the 

17          numbers on that just keep getting more 

18          powerful.  And of course Paris has said we 

19          really have to get even more conservative 

20          than we were in our original estimates.  1.5 

21          is maybe all we can risk in terms of rising 

22          global temperatures.  And we're at what, 0.8 

23          now?  Getting close to 1.  So the crisis is 

24          upon us.


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 1                 As you talk about using the NYSERDA 

 2          money, I'm not sure -- you looked at the 

 3          plan, NYSERDA did the plan, you've got four 

 4          different portfolios on the use of the Clean 

 5          Energy Fund.  I think the experts say the 

 6          best thing we could do is just energy 

 7          efficiency, period.  Let's get the demand 

 8          down, let's retrofit all the homes and 

 9          businesses, and we get the biggest bang for 

10          our buck that way.  When we spend a million 

11          dollars or a billion dollars, if we were 

12          going to try to reduce greenhouse gases as 

13          quickly as possible and clean up the carbon, 

14          the best thing to do is decreasing demand, 

15          energy conservation.  

16                 Am I right about that?

17                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I bow to no person 

18          in my admiration for energy efficiency.  It 

19          really is a fantastic resource.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  So as we have 

21          these various portfolios, is it weighted in 

22          any way to say -- you know, people say solar 

23          is that last thing that people ought to do in 

24          their homes, they ought to do the 


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 1          retrofitting, they ought to -- you know, all 

 2          the other things come later in terms of being 

 3          efficient with money.  You talked about -- 

 4          Ms. Zibelman said maximizing value, right, 

 5          for the dollar.  So if we're going to 

 6          maximize value, we want to reduce the most 

 7          with the least expenditure; right?

 8                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Right.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  So are we going 

10          to weight this in terms of saying let's get 

11          houses, let's get businesses retrofitted and 

12          bring down demand, bring down use of energy?

13                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So I'm going to 

14          simplify a bit and just talk about, you know, 

15          how we're spending the $5 billion.  

16                 Just over half of it is going to the 

17          portfolio we call market development, which 

18          is very much about energy efficiency and 

19          about, you know, some related technologies 

20          like storage and other sources of on-site 

21          energy generation.  

22                 The Green Bank is what we call 

23          technology agnostic, but in point of fact, 

24          just as a matter of fact, the monies in the 


                                                                  368

 1          Green Bank flow to investments that are 

 2          especially investable.  And at the moment, 

 3          and I expect this to continue, energy 

 4          efficiency dominates the investments that 

 5          we're making and the pipeline that we are 

 6          seeing.

 7                 Research and innovation is --

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Can I interrupt 

 9          you, because our time -- I've got one minute 

10          left.

11                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yeah.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I'm talking 

13          about insulating homes, I'm talking about 

14          weatherization.  Decreasing demand by getting 

15          everyone properly weatherized.  How many 

16          homes out there have no insulation in them?

17                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Right.  So that is 

18          the priority of the market development 

19          initiative.  It's not just our work; the 

20          utilities are doing similar work, and there 

21          are other programs around the state that are 

22          doing that.  It is an extremely important 

23          objective.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Then shouldn't 


                                                                  369

 1          we be really front-loading all of that, 

 2          putting -- you know, saying for the next two 

 3          or three years, we're going to get that first 

 4          job done?

 5                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  It has the biggest 

 6          emphasis in what we're doing.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you.  

 8                 One more question.  When we're doing 

 9          the cost-benefit analysis for REV -- you said 

10          you wanted to look at when utility 

11          investments and alternative energies are more 

12          cost beneficial than traditional investments.  

13          When you're making those cost-benefit 

14          analyses, are you looking at the full cost of 

15          natural gas, the externalized cost of carbon?  

16          And where are we on that?  I know when I 

17          asked the question at the roundtable, I was 

18          told that we're not going to use the federal 

19          standard which the scientists are telling us 

20          is outdated, we need to look at the latest 

21          research -- from Dr. Howarth at Cornell, for 

22          instance, about the powerful 105 times in a 

23          20-year window, the power of methane.  

24                 Are we taking those externalized costs 


                                                                  370

 1          and putting those into the cost-benefit 

 2          analysis?

 3                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes.  In the 

 4          cost-benefit analysis that the commission 

 5          approved last week, we are requiring the 

 6          utilities to use the EPA number for 

 7          environmental externality when they do their 

 8          analysis.  So we are including that in the 

 9          cost-benefit analysis.  

10                 The commission also noted, however, 

11          when the Clean Energy Standard comes in and 

12          we actually see what the environmental 

13          costs are in New York, we will likely want to 

14          substitute that number as a more accurate 

15          number of environmental value because -- so 

16          yes.  Because the purpose of the benefit-cost 

17          analysis is to really look at the total value 

18          of a resource.  So it includes the 

19          environmental costs, it includes avoided 

20          generation, avoided transmission, avoided 

21          distribution, et cetera.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  So you're using 

23          the EPA number --

24                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  We are.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  -- that the 

 2          scientists are saying is outdated?  

 3                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  It's not 

 4          outdated, it's the EPA number that the -- 

 5          it's the number that EPA uses.  

 6                 We felt -- we did -- in our evaluation 

 7          and the comments we received, we thought that 

 8          was the best number because that's the number 

 9          the EPA uses and continues to evaluate.  

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I'm concerned 

11          about that, from everything I've heard.  

12                 Can I get more information?  I'd love 

13          to see some of your thinking on this in 

14          writing.  I'd appreciate that.

15                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes.  Be happy to 

16          do so.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you very 

18          much.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

20                 Senator Little.

21                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Thank you.  

22                 President Rhodes, I wanted to ask a 

23          few things, if I could, in regard to charging 

24          stations.  I am part of a Quebec-New York 


                                                                  372

 1          Corridor group and have met with groups from 

 2          Quebec, Montreal particularly, that area, and 

 3          they have a lot more electric cars -- at 

 4          least they claim they do -- than we do in 

 5          New York State.  But they do travel down the 

 6          Northway, and the Northway runs right through 

 7          my district.  

 8                 So my goal has been to try to see if 

 9          we could find more charging stations, 

10          implementation of them, and incentives for 

11          other people to put them in.  I did find an 

12          app, it's called Plug Share.  And if you pull 

13          it up, it will tell you, you know, where you 

14          are, there's a map.  And I know that there 

15          are Price Choppers that have them, and some 

16          hotels -- oh, I'm sorry.  I thought I had it 

17          on.

18                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I could hear you.

19                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Could you hear me 

20          anyway?  

21                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I could hear.

22                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Some hotels have 

23          them, some different places have been able to 

24          put them in.  


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 1                 The Governor's State of the State 

 2          mentions a $9 million expenditure for 

 3          electric vehicle charging stations.  I'd like 

 4          to know if you could tell me if NYSERDA is 

 5          paying for those, if they're going to be 

 6          grant programs, if there's going to be a 

 7          match, and if we're going put them on public 

 8          highways.  

 9                 We have two rest areas just south of 

10          Exit 30 that I was hoping to have them on.  

11          There's nothing to do there other than to 

12          read the tourism brochures and they could 

13          stay warm.  But they would require the faster 

14          and more expensive charging stations.  And I 

15          know the bigger charging stations have a big 

16          demand charge on them.  

17                 So I did find one motel, by the way, 

18          in Lake Placid that has two Tesla charging 

19          stations at them, but nobody knows they're 

20          there, you know, unless you get on this app.

21                 So my question is, what will be the 

22          program, how will people be able to access 

23          this $9 million?  And where are we going to 

24          put them?  And how are we going to signage, 


                                                                  374

 1          you know, our highways to show people if you 

 2          need to get off, there will be a charging 

 3          station someplace?  I would love to, you 

 4          know, say, Look at the app, but there are 

 5          places in the Adirondacks where you don't 

 6          have any cell coverage, so that's not going 

 7          to work either.  

 8                 But anyway, I'm interested in this 

 9          program and what you tell me about it.  And I 

10          assume you're going to be paying for it.

11                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So the Governor has 

12          declared an objective of 3,000 charging 

13          stations in the state.  And of that, 1,800 

14          are ours to deliver.  We're on a pretty good 

15          pace, we're ahead of schedule.  Our current 

16          number is around 1,250 charging stations that 

17          are deployed.  The --

18                 SENATOR LITTLE:  But that's out of 

19          last year's money.  I mean, this $9 million 

20          expenditure is to come; right?

21                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  It is part of what 

22          will be spent on charging stations in this 

23          coming year, so -- or in future years.  

24                 So the form of -- it's an incentive.  


                                                                  375

 1          It's a cost share.  And we try to be as clear 

 2          as possible and as straightforward and easy 

 3          to work with as possible in explaining how it 

 4          is that one would go about and get the cost 

 5          share.  Typically, you know, it's the hosts 

 6          that drive it, so it's the Wegmans or the 

 7          Starbucks or the Price Chopper that goes and 

 8          makes it happen.

 9                 I mentioned that we have the majority 

10          of the objective of 3,000.  Our partner for 

11          the rest of it is NYPA, the New York Power 

12          Authority.  You know, to the extent that we 

13          put them on highway rest areas and the like, 

14          that tends to be more where NYPA is working.  

15          But we don't want to point fingers at each 

16          other, we're eager to kind of get the 

17          charging stations where they're needed most.  

18                 And so I'm happy to talk to you about 

19          that and especially to hear advice from you 

20          or from people who are speaking to you about 

21          how to create better awareness of where those 

22          are.  Because the whole point of a charging 

23          station is to reduce the need -- the 

24          phenomenon they call range anxiety, right?


                                                                  376

 1                 SENATOR LITTLE:  I almost think we 

 2          need to develop the sign, just a small sign 

 3          that goes on the exits so that people know if 

 4          they get off, the --

 5                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I have noted that 

 6          suggestion.

 7                 SENATOR LITTLE:  And then of this 

 8          $9 million, how much will NYSERDA have to 

 9          dispense in this coming budget?

10                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I'll have to get 

11          back to you on the specific number.

12                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Well, I'd like to 

13          have a meeting and maybe --

14                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yeah.  In any case, 

15          yeah.

16                 SENATOR LITTLE:  -- we can sit down 

17          and come up with a program.  

18                 But very, very important for the 

19          Canadian travel.  You know, I mean with the 

20          dollar, it hasn't been as big as it usually 

21          is, but nevertheless they still come down on 

22          business, come down on tourism events and 

23          all.  And they do have electric cars that I 

24          understand only go 80 miles before a charge, 


                                                                  377

 1          so.  

 2                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We'll work with you 

 3          on this.

 4                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Okay.  Thank you.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Assembly?

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman 

 7          Englebright.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you, 

 9          Mr. Chairman.  

10                 Thank you both for your testimony.

11                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  We heard 

13          just a few moments ago an impassioned -- and 

14          I respect the point of view, by the way, 

15          impassioned argument for a balance in fuels 

16          in the state.  And while I respect the 

17          economic argument, let me just add a 

18          different perspective.  

19                 We had a hearing sequence that focused 

20          on climate change.  And among the things that 

21          we learned was there were huge costs that 

22          have already been encumbered with storms, 

23          damage to infrastructure, erosion due to 

24          climate change, which is being driven by 


                                                                  378

 1          carbon-based fuels.

 2                 And so just -- you know, with 

 3          34 inches of snow from a coastal storm 

 4          empowered by an overheated Atlantic Ocean, 

 5          think about the costs when you wonder, 

 6          perhaps, whether or not the Governor is 

 7          moving in the right direction and how 

 8          enthusiastic your agency should be in 

 9          supporting the direction that he has decided 

10          to go in.  

11                 I would argue that he's going in the 

12          right direction and that we should get to 

13          those threshold targets as soon as possible.  

14                 That being said, one of the things 

15          that became clear from the hearings is that 

16          one of the most dangerous fuels is natural 

17          gas.  We heard testimony from people with 

18          Ph.D.s behind their names indicating that 

19          leaks from both poorly closed wells and from 

20          gas systems already in place could account 

21          for as much as 40 percent of the greenhouse 

22          gas impact, because natural gas is 100 times 

23          more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2.  

24                 Within that context, Audrey Zibelman 


                                                                  379

 1          has provided us with a statement that says 

 2          that your focus on natural gas safety has led 

 3          to strengthening efforts.  I was greatly 

 4          encouraged to hear you say that and wonder if 

 5          safety includes the safety of our atmosphere, 

 6          the safety of our residents so they don't 

 7          drown in their apartments when we get 

 8          superstorms, the safety of our infrastructure 

 9          and our tax base, as well as the safety so 

10          that they don't blow up.  I'm encouraged; I 

11          wonder if you could elaborate on it.

12                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Certainly.  So 

13          one of the areas of concern of the commission 

14          is safety, but it also -- one of the safety 

15          concerns is old infrastructure, where we have 

16          bare steel pipe that is leak-prone.  And it's 

17          the leak-prone pipe that we're worried -- 

18          that is also the problem when it comes to 

19          methane leakage.  

20                 So one of the things that the 

21          commission has done is that we've actually 

22          accelerated the replacement of leak-prone 

23          pipe so that all the utilities will have 

24          programs in place to go from where it was, 


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 1          which was 60 or 70 years down to 20 to 30 

 2          years.  So we have an effort going on with 

 3          all of the utilities to make sure that we're 

 4          doing everything we can to replace that pipe 

 5          with plastic fusion pipe, really, that will 

 6          not have the same type of methane leakage.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

 8          very much.  

 9                 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

11                 Senator O'Mara.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  

13                 Thank you, President Rhodes for your 

14          testimony and for being here.

15                 Could you outline for us what the 

16          differences are and what the plans are for 

17          incentives for solar between large-scale and 

18          residential or business-mounted systems, and 

19          where you see that progressing in the future?  

20          Because I've heard concerns about plans to 

21          cut back on the incentives for solar systems, 

22          particularly in residential environments.

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So the existing 

24          incentive program, NY-Sun, is focused on 


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 1          behind-the-meter deployment of solar.  So 

 2          that is on someone's property, on the other 

 3          side of the meter.  They can still be quite 

 4          large, I believe up to 2 megawatt, which is 

 5          10 acres.  But they are not utility-scale 

 6          solar, and I'll get back to that in a moment.  

 7                 The solar incentives, as NY-Sun was 

 8          initiated under Governor Cuomo, laid out a 

 9          program to provide incentives by size and by 

10          section of the state, and those incentives 

11          would step down over time as the market grew 

12          and as the industry made economic gains and, 

13          as a result, costs reduced.

14                 So in fact it is an explicit part of 

15          the design and an incentive and a mechanism 

16          that is absolutely behind the success that 

17          solar has had in New York, that the 

18          incentives step down as volume targets are 

19          reached.

20                 And so this is not -- this is part of 

21          the design, and the step-downs are very 

22          clearly laid out to market participants.  And 

23          this is an approach that has been embraced by 

24          the industry as a way of providing both 


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 1          long-term certainty and a compelling market 

 2          for them to set up shop here and to really 

 3          grow their business.

 4                 And so the declining incentives are in 

 5          fact -- the logic -- we expected to get the 

 6          kind of growth that we've gotten, 

 7          300 percent.  And that kind of growth is the 

 8          outcome of those incentives.

 9                 Large-scale solar is different.  It 

10          has to reach a much tougher economic 

11          objective.  We actually are hopeful, as we 

12          look at the technology trends, that large 

13          solar will be part of the Clean Energy 

14          Standard as those costs improve.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  You mentioned NY-Sun.  

16          And I believe it's been close to or exactly a 

17          billion dollars from the Clean Energy Fund; 

18          out of that $5 billion, 1 billion of it is 

19          going to NY-Sun.  Is that accurate or close?

20                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  It's more or less 

21          accurate.  The $5 billion includes -- some of 

22          the NY-Sun funding is already in the past, so 

23          what's in the $5 billion is a little bit less 

24          than the $1 billion.  But it's close enough.


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 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, it seems from  

 2          my review and information I've received, that 

 3          that NY-Sun program has primarily benefited 

 4          the Hudson Valley and Long Island regions.  

 5          What efforts are you taking to get that more 

 6          geographically spread out through the state?

 7                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So one of the 

 8          design elements -- I explained that NY-Sun is 

 9          designed to have -- by geography.  And in 

10          fact the incentives now and projected are 

11          higher upstate than they are downstate.  So 

12          that is point one that addresses that.  

13                 Point two is that one of the barriers 

14          to fast expansion of solar is what's called 

15          the interconnection issue, that once you have 

16          a project you can connect it up to the grid.  

17                 Under Chair Zibelman we are convening, 

18          with the utilities, with developers in order 

19          to remove that as a set of bottlenecks, and 

20          we are actively considering other mechanisms 

21          that can make sure that NY-Sun achieves its 

22          goals across the state.  

23                 As you note, the early wins have been 

24          downstate.  We are confident that's a matter 


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 1          of timing, not of ultimate success.  But 

 2          we're trusting but verifying.  We're working 

 3          really hard to think about ways to increase 

 4          success upstate.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  If I could continue 

 6          just for a minute.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Sure.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  The next question 

 9          relative to the renewables is storage 

10          technology.  And what is your outlook on the 

11          advancement, the development?  In other 

12          words, it was mentioned by the chairwoman 

13          about demonstration projects going in place.  

14                 But that seems to be one of the 

15          barriers, certainly, that we have with 

16          renewables, is the storage capacity for when 

17          the wind's not blowing or the sun's not 

18          shining and how we maintain consistency of 

19          power demand.  

20                 So where do you see storage technology 

21          at today?  And what part of the Clean Energy 

22          Fund is going to be focused on that?

23                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So storage is a big 

24          family of technologies.  Some of it is ready 


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 1          for prime time.  And the chemistries, 

 2          effective, that are ready for prime time are 

 3          an explicit focus -- I think I mentioned it 

 4          in passing -- of the market development 

 5          portfolio.  So we actively seek to provide 

 6          incentives and technical assistance and 

 7          quality assurance and proven practices and 

 8          data that says you should go here.

 9                 Support for storage, that's ready for 

10          prime time.  We also know for a fact that 

11          there are storage chemistries that are on 

12          their way, and those are an explicit focus of 

13          our work in the innovation and research 

14          portfolio.  

15                 And I'll turn in a second to Chair 

16          Zibelman, who can talk about the things that 

17          REV is doing to make solar -- to recognize 

18          more value for solar -- for storage.  But 

19          specifically with respect to the bundling of 

20          solar and storage -- which is just a natural 

21          combination, for cost and for resilience 

22          reasons -- that is something that we are 

23          actively developing programs around.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And what entity is 


                                                                  386

 1          going to be in the storage business?  Is that 

 2          going to be the utilities?  Is that going to 

 3          be private entities or the actual generators 

 4          themselves with the solar array or the wind?  

 5                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yes.  Yes.

 6                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Yes, yes, and 

 7          yes.  Yes.

 8                 So I think that the opportunities for 

 9          storage under REV are tremendous.  We have -- 

10          in the commission's order, one of the areas 

11          that we identified for utility investment is 

12          in really large-scale storage, such as 

13          batteries, that could help integrate wind and 

14          solar better, because -- to address the 

15          intermittency issue.  

16                 We also fully expect that as we change 

17          the market and we start valuing the ability 

18          of resources to respond quickly so they get 

19          revenue streams, people will start investing 

20          in storage themselves.

21                 I had the opportunity to visit really 

22          an independent real estate developer in 

23          New York City who is investing a great 

24          deal -- they're putting battery storages in 


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 1          their parking lots, internal parking lots, 

 2          and using it to reduce the demand on their 

 3          system so they can reduce their energy 

 4          bill -- and getting paid by Con Ed.  

 5                 And so this is a very substantial 

 6          opportunity.  We think that New York can be a 

 7          leader in this area because of the way we are 

 8          approaching it.  And we're both, I would say, 

 9          very bullish on storage.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

11                 Is there anyone else to go?  I have 

12          another set.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman 

14          Englebright.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I'll pass.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Krueger to 

17          close.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Oh, no, 

19          Tom might have more.  Don't get too excited; 

20          it may not be to close.

21                 Thank you for spending so much time 

22          with us today.

23                 Maybe you answered; we sort of took 

24          both of your testimony out of order, and so 


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 1          I, in turn, have gotten a little confused in 

 2          my thinking.  And I believe this is a NYSERDA 

 3          question.  So in the Clean Energy Fund- 

 4          envisioned model, there's something called a 

 5          pay-as-you-go funding model, where utilities 

 6          collect funds and give them to NYSERDA as 

 7          needed.  I don't really understand how that 

 8          works.  And what happens if somebody along 

 9          the way says, No, you don't have to give them 

10          to NYSERDA anymore?  What happens to your 

11          funding then?  

12                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Well, this is 

13          probably a shared question.  

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good.  Fine.

15                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  But the -- in point 

16          of fact, what happens now is the collections 

17          are collected by the utilities.  And what 

18          happens now is that the utilities provide the 

19          money to NYSERDA on kind of a calendar basis.  

20          You're supposed to get $100 this year, here's 

21          the quarter, here come 25 dollars.  In that 

22          mode.  

23                 The switch is rather than being kind 

24          of automatic pilot, the transfers to NYSERDA 


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 1          are based on the needs.  In part, that is a 

 2          kind of a trust-but-verify aspect of the 

 3          Public Service Commission and its oversight 

 4          of NYSERDA.  It's very clear that 10 years is 

 5          a long time, $5 billion is a significant 

 6          amount of money.  We're extremely confident 

 7          that it will succeed and that we'll produce 

 8          the benefits that are promised.  But just the 

 9          duty of oversight requires that things ought 

10          to be milestoned, and this is a very 

11          reasonable mechanism, to have milestones with 

12          teeth.

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So if I can 

14          understand, you make the request, or whoever 

15          is sitting in your seat at that moment in 

16          history, and Audrey says -- or whoever is 

17          sitting in her seat at that moment in 

18          history -- says to the utilities:  "Okay, 

19          you've collected it, now hand it over"?  Is 

20          that how it works? 

21                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  In the Clean 

22          Energy Fund, it's really a schedule that when 

23          NYSERDA needs the funds, they will request it 

24          from the utilities, and the utilities will be 


                                                                  390

 1          required to submit it.  So the utilities are 

 2          essentially collecting the funds on behalf of 

 3          NYSERDA and holding them in an 

 4          interest-bearing account.  

 5                 To your other question, the utilities 

 6          are under an order from the commission.  So 

 7          this isn't something that the utilities could 

 8          simply say, No, I'm not doing it this year.  

 9          They are required to comply under the order.  

10          And there's a target or an amount, when 

11          NYSERDA says now it's time, that they will be 

12          required to pay it.  

13                 So it's a way of basically, in a way, 

14          just holding the monies in escrow for NYSERDA 

15          so they're interest-bearing and so we could 

16          use that value to benefit ratepayers better.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And viewing it as an 

18          escrow-type model, who gets the interest?

19                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Ratepayers.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  The ratepayers get 

21          it.  Okay, thank you.

22                 Betty Little actually took my electric 

23          car question, although her question was 

24          upstate and coming across from Canada on the 


                                                                  391

 1          Northway.  I'm convinced that the downstate 

 2          area is ideal for expansion of electric cars, 

 3          because actually at the southern end of the 

 4          state the commute for people is usually far, 

 5          far less mileage-wise.  And so when you look 

 6          at the maximum capability of electric cars, 

 7          you know, it might be hard to go through 

 8          upstate New York on one power-up.  

 9                 It's not hard at all to go around 

10          Staten Island or to go around Nassau or 

11          Suffolk or even, although we try to 

12          discourage everybody from using cars in the 

13          five boroughs, getting around the other 

14          boroughs with a car that has an 80-mile 

15          maximum.  People will tell you that could be 

16          weeks' worth.  

17                 So what can the state do to encourage, 

18          through public access of the electric 

19          refilling -- they're not refilling stations.  

20          Power stations, thank you.

21                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Charging stations, 

22          yeah.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  What can we do to 

24          really push the envelope there?  Because I 


                                                                  392

 1          think other parts of the world have moved 

 2          ahead much faster than we have.  And I have 

 3          to say, I just see it as a win/win 

 4          environmentally for us, and a good new 

 5          economic model of cars for us to be 

 6          supporting.

 7                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So we agree.  Our 

 8          view, we're studying the issue, but the 

 9          conclusions are fairly clear that the state 

10          is primed for a much more active role to 

11          develop the electric vehicle, the 

12          zero-emitting vehicle market.  That includes 

13          both ways to animate more purchase of 

14          electric vehicles and ways to get more 

15          charging stations out there in order to fuel 

16          the vehicles once they're out there.  

17                 You are right, an important part of 

18          the -- an important attribute of electric 

19          vehicles -- some of the important attributes 

20          of electric vehicles mean that it is what 

21          they call an urban mode.  It belongs in 

22          cities.  

23                 And the final observation is that 

24          utilities recognize this, and they in fact 


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 1          are clearly thinking strategically and 

 2          importantly in talking to -- well, to the 

 3          commission, mainly, about ways in which they 

 4          can be an important instrument for this.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Do you have anything 

 6          to add, since he handed it to you, so to 

 7          speak?

 8                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Well, I think, as 

 9          John said, the conversion of electric 

10          vehicles is a bit of a chicken-and-egg issue, 

11          right?  The issue is the infrastructure is 

12          not there.  And so one of the things I know 

13          that downstate utilities are considering is 

14          that they can support the development of the 

15          infrastructure.  And as a friend of mine 

16          recently said, that's why God invented 

17          utilities, to help with these types of 

18          things.  

19                 And so that's something that we're 

20          actively looking at with them.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And do you think 

22          they get that, and they are exploring that?  

23                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  For utilities, 

24          this is a way to build infrastructure, and 


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 1          that's one thing that they're in the business 

 2          to do.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I'm out of time.  

 4                 Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 6                 One more speaker.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 8                 Assemblyman Kavanagh.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Thank you, 

10          Mr. Chair.  

11                 And thank you to both of you for your 

12          long stamina in this session.

13                 I just want to focus a little bit on 

14          RGGI and how those funds are being used per 

15          the Executive proposal.  You know, the 

16          Governor had announced, I think actually in 

17          advance of his formal presentation, that EPF 

18          would be fully funded without RGGI funds at 

19          $300 million this year.  And I think that 

20          announcement was greeted happily by a lot of 

21          folks who had advocated that RGGI funds not 

22          be transferred to cover costs of EPF last 

23          year.

24                 But that proposal, as I understand it, 


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 1          still effectively takes about $38 million -- 

 2          I think the number last year was $41 

 3          million -- takes $38 million and transfers it 

 4          to the State General Fund to cover some new 

 5          energy -- sorry, new training programs at 

 6          SUNY and then also some tax credits.

 7                 Can you just talk a little bit about 

 8          each of those components and, in particular, 

 9          why is it, given the tremendous challenges 

10          we've just been discussing today, why is it 

11          appropriate to use those RGGI funds to cover 

12          tax credits that in many cases predate RGGI 

13          itself?

14                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  So I believe the 

15          math that you're referring to is $23 million 

16          for carbon-abating tax credits and 

17          $15 million to what I believe is called a 

18          Green Intellectual Capital Development Fund 

19          at SUNY.  

20                 So the former, as you note, is the 

21          same as last year, the same purpose as last 

22          year.  And as last year, it's very clear and 

23          a very easy to reach determination by us that 

24          this is absolutely an appropriate and 


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 1          carbon-abating use of RGGI funds, which is 

 2          their absolute intended purpose, 

 3                 And the $15 million is really an 

 4          important green jobs initiative.  And we know 

 5          that having a pipeline of skilled talent 

 6          getting into the clean energy economy is 

 7          needed.  I mean, we know the job -- we know 

 8          the openings are just surging, and we need 

 9          skilled, trained labor to fill them.  And 

10          it's a constraint on -- our research tells us 

11          that workforce is in fact a constraint on the 

12          acceleration of clean energy, and this is 

13          just -- this is a way to meet a priority 

14          need.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  That program is 

16          being done through SUNY.  Are those funds 

17          available for CUNY as well?

18                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yes.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  They are, good. 

20                 In terms of the tax credits, it is 

21          correct, though, that those tax credits 

22          predated -- I mean, some of them have been on 

23          the books for a very long time.  I guess when 

24          RGGI was put in place, there was not sort of 


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 1          a maintenance-of-effort provision.  But we 

 2          are covering tax credits that were being 

 3          funded by the general revenues of the state 

 4          for many years even before RGGI, although 

 5          RGGI has obviously been around for a long 

 6          time.  

 7                 Is that your understanding?

 8                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Yeah, I believe 

 9          that's the record.  

10                 From our point of view, we have really 

11          two duties.  One is to come to a view on is 

12          this an appropriate use of RGGI, and that 

13          answer is clearly a yes.  And the other view 

14          is do we in fact have the resources that we 

15          need to deliver on the Governor's goals in 

16          terms of clean energy and energy efficiency 

17          and the like.  And even though, as you note, 

18          the goals are stretching, the answer is yes.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Am I correct 

20          that NYSERDA adopted a budget for 2016-2017, 

21          an authority budget that does not reflect 

22          this $38 million being switched for these 

23          purposes?

24                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  I don't believe 


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 1          you're correct.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Okay.  I'd like 

 3          to -- if you could just --

 4                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  The reason I paused 

 5          is that there's -- we have a different 

 6          process, as we go through, to handle 

 7          different parts of the funds.  And the RGGI 

 8          spends are most -- from a governor's point of 

 9          view, happen in an operating plan that's 

10          going to come out halfway through this year.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  But there was a 

12          budget -- RGGI --

13                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We were counting on 

14          this, taking these activities on.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  You were 

16          counting on the $38 million being removed?

17                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  We think of it as 

18          being invested.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Forgive me, I'm 

20          not trying to catch you up, I'm not trying to 

21          get you on semantics.  But you're counting on 

22          this transfer -- I mean, it technically is a 

23          transfer, and you're counting on this 

24          transfer for these purposes which you think 


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 1          are appropriate.

 2                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Correct.  Correct.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN KAVANAGH:  Okay.  Thank 

 4          you very much.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I'd 

 6          like to thank both of you for coming in and 

 7          for being so patient and responsive.  We 

 8          appreciate your answers very, very much.  And 

 9          so thank you once again; we look forward to 

10          continuing to work with you.  So thank you.

11                 PSC CHAIR ZIBELMAN:  Thank you very 

12          much.

13                 PRESIDENT RHODES:  Thank you.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Now, here we 

15          go.  Our first group is the New York Farm 

16          Bureau, and they will be represented by Kelly 

17          Young, deputy director of public policy.

18                 And just so people can get in the 

19          queue -- and jus