Joint Legislative Public Hearing on 2018-2019 Executive Budget Proposal: Topic Environmental Conservation Testimonies

March 6, 2018

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Hearing event notice:
https://www.nysenate.gov/calendar/public-hearings/february-27-2018/joint-legislative-public-hearing-2018-2019-executive

Transcript:

                                                                   1

 1  BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE FINANCE
    AND ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEES
 2  ----------------------------------------------------

 3          JOINT LEGISLATIVE HEARING

 4             In the Matter of the
           2018-2019 EXECUTIVE BUDGET ON
 5           ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
    
 6  ----------------------------------------------------

 7                           Hearing Room B
                             Legislative Office Building
 8                           Albany, New York
    
 9                           February 27, 2018
                             10:06 a.m.
10  

11  PRESIDING:

12           Senator Catharine M. Young
             Chair, Senate Finance Committee
13  
             Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein
14           Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
    
15  PRESENT:

16           Senator Liz Krueger 
             Senate Finance Committee (RM)
17  
             Assemblyman Robert Oaks
18           Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
    
19           Senator Thomas F. O'Mara 
             Chair, Senate Committee on 
20            Environmental Conservation 
    
21           Assemblyman Steve Englebright
             Chair, Assembly Committee on
22            Environmental Conservation
    
23           Senator Patricia A. Ritchie
             Chair, Senate Committee on Agriculture
24  
    

                                                                   2

 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-27-18
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Assemblyman William Magee
             Chair, Assembly Committee on
 5            Agriculture
    
 6           Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell
             Chair, Assembly Committee on
 7            Tourism, Parks, Arts and 
              Sports Development
 8  
             Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick 
 9           Chair, Assembly Committee on Energy
    
10           Senator Diane J. Savino
             Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee
11  
             Senator Elizabeth O'C. Little
12  
             Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy
13  
             Assemblyman Robert Carroll
14  
             Senator Pamela Helming
15  
             Senator Brad Hoylman
16  
             Assemblyman Dan Stec
17  
             Senator Elaine Phillips
18  
             Assemblyman Steven Otis
19  
             Assemblywoman Addie Jenne 
20  
             Assemblywoman Didi Barrett
21  
             Senator John E. Brooks
22  
             Assemblywoman Barbara S. Lifton
23  
             Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick
24  
    

                                                                   3

 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-27-18
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Senator Todd Kaminsky
    
 5           Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner
    
 6           Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
    
 7           Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley 
    
 8           Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch
    
 9           Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes
    
10           Assemblyman William Colton
    
11           Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino
    
12           Assemblywoman Jaime R. Williams
    
13           Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush
    
14  
    
15  
    
16  
    
17                   LIST OF SPEAKERS
    
18                                   STATEMENT QUESTIONS
    
19  Basil Seggos 
    Acting Commissioner
20  NYS Department of 
     Environmental Conservation             9      19
21  
    Rose Harvey
22  Commissioner
    NYS Office of Parks, Recreation
23   and Historic Preservation            186     193
    
24


                                                                   4

 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-27-18
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                    STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Richard A. Ball
    Commissioner
 6  NYS Department of Agriculture
     and Markets                          236      241
 7  
    John B. Rhodes 
 8  Chair 
    NYS Public Service Commission         303      309
 9  
    Alicia Barton
10  President & CEO
    NYSERDA                               398      403
11  
    Gil Quiniones
12  President & CEO
    New York Power Authority              452      459
13  
    Samantha Levy
14  Policy Manager 
    American Farmland Trust               499      504
15  
    Jessica Ottney Mahar
16  Director of Policy
    The Nature Conservancy
17   in New York                          506
    
18  Michael Burger
    Director of Conservation 
19   and Science
    Audubon New York                      513
20  
    Robert Carpenter
21  Administrative Director
    Long Island Farm Bureau               519      525
22  
    
23  
    
24  
    

                                                                   5

 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-27-18
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                    STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Drew Cavanagh
    Director
 6  Forest Rangers Superior
     Officers Association
 7  Art Perryman 
    Board Member 
 8  Jason DeAngelis
    Board Member
 9  PBA of New York State                 531
    
10  Conor Bambrick
    Director of Air and 
11   Energy Program
    Environmental Advocates
12   of New York                          542
    
13  Patrick McClellan
    State Policy Director
14  New York League of Conservation 
     Voters                               548      552
15  
    Erin Tobin
16  Vice President for Policy
     and Preservation
17  Preservation League of NYS            554
    
18  Alison Jenkins
    Parks Program Director 
19  Parks & Trails New York               559
    
20  Kevin Chlad
    Director, Government Relations 
21  The Adirondack Council                565
    
22  John Bartow
    Executive Director
23  Empire State Forest Products
     Association                          572
24  
    

                                                                   6

 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Environmental Conservation
 2  2-27-18
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued 
    
 4                                    STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Neil Woodworth
    Executive Director and
 6   Counsel
    Adirondack Mountain Club              577
 7  
    James Dukett
 8  Program Manager
    Adirondack Lake Survey Corp.          582
 9  
    Erik Kulleseid
10  Executive Director
    Alliance for NYS Parks              
11  Senior Vice President
    Open Space Institute                  586
12  
    John v.H. Halsey
13  President
    Peconic Land Trust                    591      594
14  
    Evelyn Powers
15  Senior Manager
    Interstate Environmental
16   Commission                           597
    
17  Mark Dunlea
    Chairperson 
18  Green Education and
     Legal Fund                           605
19  
    Libby Post
20  Executive Director
    NYS Animal Protection 
21   Federation                           612
    
22  Geoff Baldwin
    President 
23  New York Water Environment
     Association                          614
24  
    

                                                                   7

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I can't believe how 

 2          quiet it is in here.

 3                 (Laughter.)

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  This has never 

 5          happened in the history of hearings, so I 

 6          congratulate everybody.

 7                 (Laughter.)

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good morning.  I'm 

 9          Senator Catharine Young, and I am chair of 

10          the Senate Standing Committee on Finance.  

11                 I'd like to welcome my colleagues, 

12          especially Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, 

13          who is chair of the Ways and Means Committee 

14          in the Assembly.  

15                 And I'll start by introducing some of 

16          our colleagues who have joined us today.  So 

17          we have Senator Liz Krueger, who is ranking 

18          member of the Finance Committee.  We've got 

19          Senator Tom O'Mara, chair of the Senate 

20          Standing Committee on Environmental 

21          Conservation.  Senator Todd Kaminsky, ranking 

22          member of EnCon.  Senator John Brooks, 

23          Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator Elaine 

24          Phillips, and Senator Pam Helming.  


                                                                   8

 1                 Did I miss anyone?  

 2                 Okay, Assembly?

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We're joined by 

 4          Assemblyman Englebright, chair of our EnCon 

 5          Committee; Assemblyman Cusick, chair of our 

 6          Energy Committee; Assemblyman O'Donnell, 

 7          chair of our Tourism Committee; Assemblyman 

 8          Otis, Assemblywoman Lifton, Assemblyman 

 9          Mosley, Assemblywoman Woerner, Assemblywoman 

10          Barrett, Assemblywoman Glick, Assemblyman 

11          Carroll, and Assemblyman Thiele.  

12                 And our ranker, Bob Oaks.  

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Yes, we've also 

14          been joined by Assemblyman Crouch and 

15          Assemblyman Stec.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

17                 The length of the hearing typically is 

18          related to the number of pages of speakers 

19          that we have.  Today we have a three-pager.  

20          So I would remind the speakers to summarize 

21          as best as you can.  Don't read your 

22          testimony.  And we also remind the members to 

23          stay within the time limits.

24                 Pursuant to the State Constitution and 


                                                                   9

 1          Legislative Law, the fiscal committees of the 

 2          State Legislature are authorized to hold 

 3          hearings on the Executive Budget.  Today's 

 4          hearing, the final of 13, will be limited to 

 5          a discussion of the Governor's proposed 

 6          budget for the Department of Environmental 

 7          Conservation, the Office of Parks, Recreation 

 8          and Historic Preservation, the Department of 

 9          Agriculture and Markets, the New York State 

10          Energy Research and Development Authority, 

11          and the New York Power Authority.

12                 Following each presentation there will 

13          be some time allowed for questions from the 

14          chairs of the fiscal committees and other 

15          legislators.  

16                 I'd like to welcome Basil Seggos, 

17          commissioner of the Department of 

18          Environmental Conservation.  And he will be 

19          followed by the commissioner of the Office of 

20          Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 

21          Rose Harvey.  

22                 So welcome, Commissioner.  Glad to 

23          have you here today.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Great to be here 


                                                                   10

 1          today.  Thank you.  Good morning, Chairwoman 

 2          Young, Chairwoman Weinstein --

 3                 (Interruption from protestors in 

 4          audience.)  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Are you on the 

 6          speakers list?  

 7                 (Protestors continue.)  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Please 

 9          take a seat.  I'd like to let people know, we 

10          do have a process where people are allowed to 

11          speak, but you need to go through the 

12          process.

13                 (Protestors continue.)  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I apologize, 

15          Commissioner, for that rude interruption.  

16                 And we do have a process where 

17          speakers and citizens are allowed to speak.  

18          That's what today is about.  As I said, we 

19          have three pages of people who are speaking 

20          today.  And I would encourage people to 

21          follow the process, because it's a disservice 

22          to everyone who is here to speak.

23                 So Commissioner?

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, 


                                                                   11

 1          Chairwoman Young, Chairwoman Weinstein and 

 2          members of the legislative fiscal and 

 3          environmental conservation committees.  I'm 

 4          Basil Seggos, commissioner of the DEC.  And 

 5          on behalf of DEC's nearly 3,000 dedicated 

 6          professionals, thank you for the opportunity 

 7          to discuss the Governor's environmental 

 8          priorities for states fiscal year 2018-2019.  

 9                 With me this year are Chief of Staff 

10          Julie Tighe and Deputy Commissioner for 

11          Administration Jeff Stefanko.

12                 The past year has seen a dramatic 

13          retreat from environmental protection at the 

14          federal level.  Washington is leading an 

15          attack on the environment and science, and it 

16          is jeopardizing the great gains we have made 

17          as a nation over the last 40 years.  New 

18          York, by contrast, has set a high bar in 

19          environmental leadership. Protecting our air, 

20          water, and natural resources is critical not 

21          just for safeguarding human health, but for 

22          securing New York's economic future.  

23                 Thanks to the Legislature, our many 

24          partners in advocacy, local government and 


                                                                   12

 1          business, and Governor Cuomo's unwavering 

 2          commitment to the environment, New York is 

 3          providing national leadership on some of the 

 4          most pressing issues of our time.  

 5                 While Washington works to decimate 

 6          federal funding for the environment, New York 

 7          is investing billions to expand renewable 

 8          energy, to strengthen clean water 

 9          infrastructure, and complete resiliency 

10          projects across the state.  While Washington 

11          denies the existence of climate change and 

12          works to scrap the Clean Power Plan, New York 

13          cofounded the bipartisan U.S. Climate 

14          Alliance and is committed to meeting our 

15          share of the emissions targets.  While 

16          Washington rolls back water and air 

17          protections, New York is regulating emerging 

18          contaminants, suing the federal government 

19          for upwind ozone emissions, and holding 

20          polluters accountable.  

21                 2017 was another extraordinary year at 

22          DEC.  We continued our aggressive response to 

23          water contamination, most notably in Hoosick 

24          Falls, Petersburgh, Newburgh, and across 


                                                                   13

 1          Long Island.  In Newburgh alone, we spent 

 2          nearly $50 million in response to the 

 3          Department of Defense's PFOS contamination 

 4          and have recently completed construction of a 

 5          massive water filtration plant which will 

 6          protect the city's drinking water.  

 7                 Having stepped in when the federal 

 8          government has failed to do so, it is now 

 9          their responsibility to reimburse the state 

10          for our efforts to protect public health.  

11          And our jointly created Drinking Water 

12          Quality Council is developing drinking water 

13          standards for emerging contaminants such as 

14          PFCs and 1,4-dioxane. 

15                 Our first responders worked to protect 

16          life and property across the state and 

17          beyond.  Forest Rangers conducted 346 rescue 

18          missions.  Environmental Conservation 

19          Officers responded to more than 26,000 calls, 

20          issued over 22,000 tickets, and conducted 

21          dozens of investigations into environmental 

22          crimes. We responded to record flooding on 

23          Lake Ontario, and helped those outside our 

24          borders impacted by fires and hurricanes, 


                                                                   14

 1          including in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas,  

 2          Montana, and California. 

 3                 Working with you, we secured 

 4          generationally significant funding to protect 

 5          water through the $2.5 billion Clean Water 

 6          Infrastructure Act.  In year one alone, we 

 7          provided $255 million in new grants and 

 8          $527 million in low-cost financing from the 

 9          EFC to help local governments fund 169 

10          projects.  And these are transformational 

11          projects in communities.  

12                 We dedicated another $87 million just 

13          for water quality protection, including land 

14          acquisition and salt storage.  And we just 

15          announced $15 million for the first year of 

16          the septic system replacement program to 

17          support projects in 31 counties across the 

18          state. 

19                 We launched a community air monitoring 

20          program in the South End of Albany to 

21          identify opportunities to reduce air 

22          pollution at the Ezra Prentice Homes.  We 

23          will soon be expanding this model to other 

24          communities across the state.  


                                                                   15

 1                 We're fighting for a complete cleanup 

 2          of GE's PCBs in the Hudson River.  EPA must 

 3          ensure that the dredging project is 

 4          protective of human health and the 

 5          environment.  Our own data has shown that the 

 6          job is far from done, and the Governor and 

 7          Attorney General have pledged to sue the EPA 

 8          if they deem the dredging project complete.  

 9                 The Governor's 2018-2019 budget 

10          continues his strong environmental legacy.  

11          This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 

12          Environmental Protection Fund, a 

13          transformational program.  The budget again 

14          proposes a $300 million EPF, the third year 

15          in a row at this record level.  

16                 Investments from the EPF protect water 

17          sources, help forests and farms remain 

18          resilient, monitor air pollution in urban 

19          neighborhoods, provide access to public lands 

20          for fishing and hunting, address 

21          environmental concerns, help businesses 

22          become more sustainable, and battle invasive 

23          species -- all while supporting thousands of 

24          jobs and billions of dollars in economic 


                                                                   16

 1          activity. 

 2                 The budget continues the $100 million 

 3          a year Superfund program, which among many 

 4          things will allow us to continue to address 

 5          the Grumman plume in Long Island and dozens 

 6          of other priority sites around the state.  

 7          The budget also continues the Clean Water 

 8          Infrastructure Act to help our communities 

 9          upgrade aging infrastructure, and it also 

10          prioritizes a $20 million investment for the 

11          Niagara Falls wastewater treatment plant.  

12                 The budget advances the Governor's 

13          $65 million program to combat harmful algal 

14          blooms, or HABs.  These are becoming more 

15          frequent and intense, so we're launching an 

16          initiative to aggressively combat HABs that 

17          threaten drinking water and recreation on our 

18          upstate lakes and waterways.  

19                 New York set the most aggressive 

20          climate change goals in the country -- a 

21          40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas 

22          emissions by 2030, and an 80 percent 

23          reduction by 2050.  The Clean Energy Standard 

24          requires us to obtain 50 percent of our 


                                                                   17

 1          energy from renewables by 2030.  And we're 

 2          conducting an in-depth study with NYSERDA on 

 3          how to reach 100 percent renewables.  Our 

 4          sister agencies are making record investments 

 5          in clean energy programs.  

 6                 And at DEC, we will be expanding our 

 7          RGGI to include "peaker" power plants, and 

 8          shortly we will be proposing regulations to 

 9          end the use of coal as a power source in New 

10          York.  

11                 DEC is also working with NYSERDA and 

12          DOT on a transformational plan to reduce 

13          emissions from the transportation sector, the 

14          largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.  

15          Armed with the best ideas from business, 

16          local government, and advocates, DEC will be 

17          investing $127 million in the Volkswagen 

18          settlement proceeds in ways that will 

19          accelerate that transformation. 

20                 The budget proposes an organic waste 

21          recycling program to keep food scraps out of 

22          landfills and divert food to those in need.  

23          And we want to modernize the forest tax law 

24          to protect privately owned forestland and 


                                                                   18

 1          open space and promote the wood products 

 2          industry.  

 3                 Lastly, this budget continues 

 4          Adventure NY, a multiyear campaign to connect 

 5          more New Yorkers and visitors to the great 

 6          outdoors.  In its first year, Adventure NY 

 7          had notable ribbon cuttings and 

 8          groundbreakings across the state, such as at 

 9          the Five Rivers center, the Salmon River fish 

10          hatchery, Frontier Town, and many other 

11          locations in the Catskills, Adirondacks, and 

12          statewide.  

13                 To support these initiatives, DEC's 

14          budget for the coming year recommends state 

15          operations appropriations of $447.8 million 

16          and a capital budget totaling $796.4 million.  

17          The budget maintains DEC staffing levels at 

18          2,945 employees.  This commitment will enable 

19          DEC to continue building a stronger, more 

20          resilient state.  

21                 Every day, DEC is on the front lines 

22          of protecting public health and the 

23          environment.  While Washington is polarized 

24          on so many issues, here in New York our 


                                                                   19

 1          strong partnerships and our commitment to 

 2          results are cause for optimism.  I know we 

 3          will succeed because with you, over the last 

 4          seven years, we have been doing just that.  

 5                 Once more, I'd like to thank the 

 6          members of the committee for your time today, 

 7          and I'd be happy to answer your questions. 

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 9          Commissioner, for that.  

10                 So the Executive Budget proposes to 

11          maintain spending for the Environmental 

12          Protection Fund at $300 million, but there 

13          are some changes.  So I'd like to ask for 

14          your input on those changes.  

15                 First of all, within the solid waste 

16          account, there is $300,000 in additional 

17          funds for the pesticide database.  So what 

18          exactly is the purpose of those funds?  How 

19          would those be used?  

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  The pesticide 

21          database actually is currently six different 

22          databases, and we need to transition that 

23          into a single database.  So we anticipate 

24          spending that additional $300,000 in effect 


                                                                   20

 1          to synchronize the six databases.  Keep the 

 2          program going, but make it more efficient 

 3          through a better IT system.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I know there's been 

 5          an issue in the past about pesticides not 

 6          being approved quickly by the state, even 

 7          though they may be safer than ones that 

 8          already are being used.  Would this help 

 9          streamline that process?  

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It will help 

11          streamline the process.  I think the more 

12          time we can spend reviewing applications, the 

13          less time we spend managing information 

14          between lots of different databases.  It will 

15          make us more efficient.  So I anticipate that 

16          will help us, yes.

17                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  I 

18          actually want to point out that we've already 

19          gone through a process where we've leaned 

20          that program, and we have not heard 

21          complaints of late at all about registration 

22          issues here in New York, because we've 

23          greatly reduced the amount of time it takes 

24          us to undertake those reviews.


                                                                   21

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good.  Thank you.  

 2                 There also is a million dollars in 

 3          additional funds for environmental justice, 

 4          community impact and job training grants.  

 5          Could you tell us about that?

 6                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, the 

 7          Governor last year announced a commitment to 

 8          enhancing job creation, particularly in the 

 9          environmental justice sector.  The EPF is a 

10          powerful tool for that.  

11                 This year we propose to expand that, 

12          adding job training capabilities within 

13          environmental justice communities.  It's a 

14          million extra dollars over where we were last 

15          year on this.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.  

17                 The natural resources damages program 

18          is being cut by $1.2 million.  With the 

19          significant number of flooding incidents, 

20          does that seem like the right thing to do at 

21          this time?

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, the 

23          natural resource damage account really is 

24          designed to support natural resource damage 


                                                                   22

 1          assessments, which is a function of 

 2          contaminated site assessments.  We have been 

 3          spending money out of that account at a 

 4          pretty healthy clip over the last few years, 

 5          largely to explore the damages associated 

 6          with the GE PCBs damages in the Hudson River.  

 7          We propose a reduction in that line this year 

 8          because we are nearing the very end of the 

 9          19-year assessment of damages.

10                 NRD funds cannot be spent on damages 

11          associated with, you know, severe weather, 

12          extreme storms, flooding.  It's really 

13          dedicated to assessing damages based on 

14          contamination.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.

16                 There also is a -- and this is a 

17          separate account.  This is Parks and 

18          Recreation.  So there's a decrease of 

19          $2.5 billion for zoos, botanical gardens and 

20          aquariums.  It's pretty huge.  Why is that in 

21          there?  

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, the EPF -- 

23          the Governor has made a commitment to the EPF 

24          to remain at $300 million indefinitely.  Many 


                                                                   23

 1          of the lines change year to year.  The ZBGA 

 2          line, just for reference, was at I think $9 

 3          million back in 2010.  We boosted up to 15, 

 4          we pulled it back to 12.  It's not a 

 5          reflection of our commitment to zoos and 

 6          botanical gardens, merely that we're moving 

 7          dollars around to achieve -- to support 

 8          various projects within other lines.

 9                 So I would expect this to change year 

10          to year, but our commitment remains strong to 

11          zoos.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I 

13          apologize, there was a typo on my sheet, so 

14          it's not billion, it's million.  I thought 

15          that was wrong.

16                 Within the Open Space account, there's 

17          an additional $3.6 million for the oceans and 

18          Great Lakes initiative.  And why do we have 

19          this increase in there?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So we're doing a 

21          few things through oceans and Great Lakes.  

22          The Governor announced last year a shellfish 

23          initiative.  We are launching a few new 

24          shellfish sites within our coastal waters.  


                                                                   24

 1          Some of the funds will be used to boost that 

 2          program.  

 3                 We're also looking at combating HABs 

 4          across a wide region.  Harmful algal blooms, 

 5          as you know, as I mentioned in my testimony, 

 6          has expanded as a problem here in New York, 

 7          partly because -- well, we're looking now, 

 8          but the climate may be making conditions 

 9          worse.  Those funds from the oceans and Great 

10          Lakes line will enable us to address these 

11          problems at a series of waterways across the 

12          state.  

13                 In addition, we have a 10-year Ocean 

14          Action Plan that we set a few years ago, 

15          about two years ago, the first 10-year Ocean 

16          Action Plan.  Some of the projects we've 

17          identified under that plan need funding, and 

18          that's what these funds would go towards.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

20                 And also I'd like to ask about the 

21          climate change account.  So there's a 

22          $400,000 allocation for the Cornell Soil 

23          Health Program that has been eliminated.  And 

24          with the current focus on climate resiliency 


                                                                   25

 1          and adapting to extreme climate events, this 

 2          seems like it may not be the appropriate time 

 3          to eliminate this line.  So what is the 

 4          justification for the decrease?

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would 

 6          recommend humbly that you raise that with the 

 7          Ag & Markets commissioner, Commissioner Ball, 

 8          when he is up here.  That's obviously an 

 9          important program, it has been an important 

10          program for us, but he's more equipped to 

11          answer the change.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you.

13                 Just switching over to the food waste 

14          section.  And the Executive proposes language 

15          to require high-volume food waste generators 

16          to divert excess food to food banks, animal 

17          feed operations, anaerobic digesters, or 

18          other composting and organics recycling 

19          facilities.  

20                 So we've heard a lot of feedback from 

21          different businesses such as supermarkets, 

22          restaurants, higher education institutions, 

23          hotels, food processors, correctional 

24          facilities, sports or entertainment venues, 


                                                                   26

 1          hospitals and other healthcare facilities.  

 2          And this proposal would be implemented at the 

 3          same time the minimum wage is being 

 4          increased.  And the Governor in his State of 

 5          the State proposed public hearings to examine 

 6          industries and evaluate the possibility of 

 7          ending minimum-wage credits in the state.

 8                 Do you have any concern that this may 

 9          put too much pressure on the food and 

10          restaurant industry, especially in the 

11          upstate regions of the state?

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, the 

13          program that we proposed here, the organics 

14          recycling program, has several very important 

15          benefits.  First, we throw away about 40 

16          percent of our food.  Right?  That ends up 

17          largely in landfills.  Much of that can be 

18          and should be diverted towards those who are 

19          hungry.  

20                 When it ends up in landfills, when 

21          food ends up in landfills, it not only takes 

22          up space in a landfill, it is a powerful 

23          greenhouse gas and can have negative impacts 

24          on our environment.


                                                                   27

 1                 The program we proposed, and have been 

 2          working on this now for several years, takes 

 3          into account the concerns we heard last year 

 4          from the regulated industry.  We heard that 

 5          they want more flexibility in the program, we 

 6          heard that they had concerns about the cost 

 7          of the program up-front.  So what we have put 

 8          forward is a three-year phase-in, with 

 9          investments up-front to help the industry get 

10          off its feet.

11                 I believe and I think we believe as an 

12          agency that if this is done right -- I think 

13          the legislation will do it correctly -- if 

14          this is done right, we will end up saving 

15          businesses money.  NYSERDA has done a study 

16          detailing the benefits of enhanced organics 

17          collection, which demonstrates that once the 

18          collection industry is up and running, they 

19          can save as much -- the businesses can save 

20          as much as half over their current tipping 

21          fees.

22                 Mind you, businesses like restaurants, 

23          like supermarkets have to dispose of that 

24          waste anyway.  We want to do it in such a way 


                                                                   28

 1          that their costs are less and there's a 

 2          benefit to the food that doesn't go eaten.  

 3          Part of that is through anaerobic digestion, 

 4          some of it can be diversion towards those in 

 5          need, those who are hungry, basically keeping 

 6          as much of it out of landfills -- and we've 

 7          proposed several programs to help offset some 

 8          of the up-front costs of that over the coming 

 9          years.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And I agree with 

11          the concept to better manage food waste, I'm 

12          just concerned about the mandates.  And you 

13          said this would be phased in over three 

14          years?

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It would be 

16          phased in over three years.  So the mandate 

17          wouldn't come until 2021.  

18                 And we've also created a waiver 

19          system.  So an institution has to produce 

20          greater than two tons per week of waste, so 

21          that's the first criteria.  The second 

22          criteria is they need to be within 40 miles 

23          of a collection facility.  If they are not 

24          within 40 miles of a collection facility, or 


                                                                   29

 1          for whatever reason if the costs of getting 

 2          that food waste to the collection facility 

 3          are greater than the benefits to them, then 

 4          they can apply to us for a waiver, and we can 

 5          issue those year after year.

 6                 So we anticipate the program itself 

 7          ramping up over three years and then 

 8          providing fail-safes to businesses so that 

 9          they're not unduly burdened over that time.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.  

11                 Have you talked to other states?  

12          Because in Vermont the Legislature there is 

13          looking to roll back the 2020 organics 

14          diversion mandate that that state put into 

15          place.  So are you talking to other states 

16          about how they've experimented with this and 

17          what the outcomes are?

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We have talked 

19          to other states.  We've talked to Vermont, 

20          Massachusetts, and a few other states that 

21          have mandates.  

22                 I'm going to have Julie answer some of 

23          the work that we've done on our outreach.

24                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  So with 


                                                                   30

 1          Vermont, Vermont is actually phasing in so 

 2          that it gets down -- it started at the 

 3          2-tons-per-week generator, and it's been 

 4          gradually ramping down to one ton per week, 

 5          to 500,000 pounds per week, until ultimately 

 6          we get to the individuals.

 7                 So we are not looking at that kind of 

 8          a phase-in the way Vermont is.  So I'm not 

 9          aware that they're actually looking at 

10          phasing out the 2 tons per week.  That's been 

11          moving along fairly well, from what I 

12          understand from our discussions with them.  

13                 And certainly in Massachusetts we're 

14          also seeing great progress on that front.  

15          And folks from Massachusetts participated in 

16          stakeholder meetings that we held through the 

17          fall with folks, as we made some adjustments 

18          and talked to stakeholders about how we would 

19          be implementing some of these programs, to 

20          provide assurances based on their experience 

21          there.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

23                 I'll come back.  But we've been joined 

24          by Senator Savino and Senator Betty Little.


                                                                   31

 1                 Assembly?  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We've been 

 3          joined by our Ag chair, Assemblyman Magee, by 

 4          Assemblywoman Fahy, and Assemblyman Colton.  

 5                 And to our EnCon chair, Assemblyman 

 6          Englebright, for some questions.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

 8          very much.  

 9                 Good morning.

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I have a 

12          couple of questions.  

13                 The Conservation Fund, your Executive 

14          Budget shifts funding for Environmental 

15          Conservation Officers out of the Conservation 

16          Fund into the General Fund.  Why?  Why is 

17          this necessary?  

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, we want to 

19          keep the Conservation Fund in a good 

20          financial place.  

21                 Maybe, Jeff, do you want to handle 

22          some of the concepts behind the shift?

23                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER STEFANKO:  Sure.  

24          There's a structural deficit currently in the 


                                                                   32

 1          Conservation Fund with revenues not equaling 

 2          expenditures and meeting the costs of the 

 3          fund, which increase every year due to 

 4          contractual increases, fringe benefit 

 5          increases every year.  

 6                 So we're shifting costs over to make 

 7          sure the fund stays solvent.

 8                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  I want 

 9          to emphasize it doesn't reflect any reduction 

10          in our commitment to our Fish and Wildlife 

11          Program.  This happens, you know, reasonably 

12          commonly.  

13                 In general, the expenses associated 

14          with those programs always have exceeded what 

15          the Conservation Fund supports.  And it's 

16          always been supported by other funds, 

17          including federal funds and the General Fund.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Okay, thank 

19          you.

20                 Regarding your staffing, the staffing 

21          level currently is 2,945 full-time 

22          equivalents.  Just a few years ago, the 

23          number was closer to 4,000.  Yet the 

24          responsibilities of the agency increase each 


                                                                   33

 1          year.  So do you need more personnel?

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, you're 

 3          right that we took a cut in the late 2000s.  

 4                 Since the Governor's been in office, 

 5          staffing levels have slightly increased at 

 6          DEC.  I think if you look at where we are as 

 7          a state this year from our budgetary 

 8          perspective, with a nearly $4.5 billion 

 9          deficit, the fact that DEC is being given a 

10          constant staffing level is encouraging.  It's 

11          a reflection of the Governor's commitment to 

12          the environment, a reflection of the 

13          Governor's commitment to my agency.  

14                 And I will tell you this.  Since I've 

15          been in this chair now for two and a half 

16          years, I have felt our burdens increase.  

17          Right?  We have over this period experienced 

18          an enormous awakening in New York, 

19          nationally, on water infrastructure.  We are 

20          seeing the impacts of climate change.  We now 

21          have, in my view, a hostile administration in 

22          Washington on environmental issues.

23                 Everything that is -- from our core 

24          mission to some of these expanding issues, we 


                                                                   34

 1          have been able to meet the challenges that 

 2          have come to us.  And I credit my staff for a 

 3          few things.  First of all, their creativity, 

 4          their willingness to work hard, and their 

 5          willingness to break down barriers between 

 6          divisions, barriers between agencies.  That 

 7          was a big thing when the Governor first took 

 8          office back in 2011, was breaking down the 

 9          silos between the agencies.  And I think we 

10          did that very well.  What came next was 

11          breaking down the barriers within agencies.

12                 And based on the priorities I've set 

13          for the agency, particularly on things like 

14          drinking water, contaminated sites and the 

15          like, we've found ways to become faster, more 

16          efficient, more aggressive, leaning forward, 

17          sending the message out that the cop is on 

18          the beat, we're holding polluters 

19          accountable.  

20                 And finding ways to work really well 

21          with our partners at the Department of Health 

22          and other agencies, frankly.  We have a very 

23          robust rapid response team on some of the 

24          issues that arise in the papers that you read 


                                                                   35

 1          about.  

 2                 And we're becoming more efficient 

 3          internally.  We're just -- we're using our IT 

 4          infrastructure smarter, we're finding ways to 

 5          lean processes.  

 6                 So as an agency, I feel like we're in 

 7          a very strong position right now to meet any 

 8          challenge that comes to us, and I'm confident 

 9          we can carry that out.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  One of the 

11          concerns I have relating to staffing is a 

12          very specific one.  It's my understanding 

13          that the Region 1 land specialist, who was so 

14          very helpful to our citizens who had been 

15          traumatized and had suffered so many property 

16          damages due to Superstorm Sandy, as well as 

17          our ongoing land acquisition needs in an area 

18          where open space is diminishing dramatically, 

19          that that position is about to become vacant.  

20                 So I would just ask you to make a note 

21          of how important that is and attempt to 

22          refill it rather than leave it vacant, in 

23          order to maintain our maintenance of effort.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Certainly will.  


                                                                   36

 1          I completely agree with you, it's a very 

 2          important area to protect land down there, 

 3          not just for the sake of setting aside land, 

 4          but also for the resiliency purposes.  So I 

 5          agree.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  The 

 7          resiliency as well.  Thank you for making 

 8          that notation.

 9                 One of the concerns I have regarding 

10          the maintenance of effort is the spending 

11          levels.  Last year we were advertised as 

12          having $300 million in the EPF; $217 million, 

13          however, was proposed to be spent.  That's in 

14          the current fiscal year.  And for next year, 

15          again, the large type says:  Look, see, we 

16          still have $300 million committed -- but the 

17          actual spending level is projected to be 

18          $232 million.  

19                 Is this a reflection of your ability 

20          to maintain effort with fewer and fewer 

21          resources?  What are we looking at?  And is 

22          this indeed related to staffing?

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  I -- 

24          just to be clear, we expect to spend more 


                                                                   37

 1          than what we've spent so far.  We obviously 

 2          have a few months left in the fiscal year, a 

 3          month and a half left in the fiscal year, so 

 4          we anticipate spending a great deal more than 

 5          the books currently reflect.

 6                 I would say that spending it in some 

 7          cases takes time.  It is a contracting 

 8          process, particularly when we're making 

 9          grants.  Pushing that money out the door is a 

10          top priority for me, that those monies -- a 

11          dollar in the EPF is $7 in the community.  

12          The Governor has encouraged me to do all we 

13          can to make those dollars quickly available.  

14          I have no reason to believe that the pace of 

15          spending won't continue to grow and meet the 

16          $300 million expectation over the next few 

17          years.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  We have a 

19          concern -- you heard Senator Young speak to 

20          the ZBGA reduction of $2.5 million that's in 

21          this proposed budget.  Land acquisition is 

22          also projected to be cut $6 million, from $36 

23          million last year.  And I'm led to believe 

24          they're not making land anymore, so this is a 


                                                                   38

 1          serious concern.  

 2                 And I just want to mention that on 

 3          both of these programs, the benefits are 

 4          dramatic and permanent.  The ZBGA program is 

 5          the gateway or the portal for most of the 

 6          families and children in the state to learn 

 7          about the environment and to gain an 

 8          appreciation for wildlife in a structured 

 9          learning environment.  So cutting that is to 

10          essentially cut the constituency for your 

11          agency.

12                 So I would just caution you, as you 

13          think about this and we go into negotiations, 

14          that you're hearing this from both sides of 

15          this podium.  And it's a concern that I hope 

16          you have a chance to reflect on as we perhaps 

17          have an opportunity to modify and improve the 

18          budget as it might look in its final form.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Can I make a 

20          point about land acquisition?  

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Surely.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.  So I want 

23          to assure the body here that we remain 

24          steadfastly committed to land acquisition.  


                                                                   39

 1                 We match up land acquisition to 

 2          dollars based on the Open Space Plan, which 

 3          has statewide focus.  And we approach 

 4          projects in land acquisition based on what's 

 5          achievable in a given year and what we know 

 6          we can get through in terms of contracting, 

 7          OAG and comptroller review.  

 8                 Those numbers will fluctuate year to 

 9          year, based on that plan.  So $30 million 

10          EPF, it may look like a cut -- we were at 35, 

11          36 last year -- but we also have this year a 

12          $10 million Pittman-Robertson money which we 

13          intend to push out.  And through the Clean 

14          Water Infrastructure Act, last year we spent 

15          $15 million on land acquisition.  So we're 

16          actually well over $50 million in terms of 

17          land acquisition, which is much more than 

18          what the EPF has provided to us over the last 

19          few years.  

20                 I just want to reassure you that we 

21          remain committed to it.  There are different 

22          mechanisms to get those dollars into 

23          projects.  But as a grand total, as a 

24          reflection of the agency's commitment, that 


                                                                   40

 1          remains very strong.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

 3                 I have a concern that is a whole 

 4          ecosystem issue that meets with economic 

 5          concerns.  Recently you received a letter 

 6          from three of our colleagues -- Senator 

 7          LaValle, Assemblyman Thiele, and 

 8          Assemblyman Palumbo sent you a letter asking 

 9          regarding the Oysterponds Shellfish Company 

10          in Southold asking for an evaluation -- a 

11          reevaluation of what appears to be a closure 

12          of an area that has become enormously 

13          productive.

14                 On a whole ecosystem scale, our 

15          shellfish of course is an initiative that the 

16          Governor has rightly focused on and begun 

17          making discretionary investments into.  And 

18          it just seems incongruous to me for a shadow 

19          to fall over this very successful 

20          shellfishing operation.  

21                 My three colleagues have pointed the 

22          way toward a solution for this, which would 

23          be to change the sampling station.  I don't 

24          want to get into the weeds on this here 


                                                                   41

 1          today, but I do want to mention how important 

 2          I think their communication to you is and ask 

 3          that we have an opportunity to reevaluate and 

 4          perhaps discuss this further, not just you 

 5          and I but with the other members who signed 

 6          the letter.  Would that be possible?

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Absolutely.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Okay, thank 

 9          you.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  But I -- sorry, 

12          I just wanted to make one point on that.  

13                 We're obviously -- in terms of the 

14          water quality itself, we want the shellfish 

15          industry to remain vibrant in New York State.  

16          It needs to remain vibrant, obviously, in 

17          areas where the water quality can support it.  

18          And we have some concerns about the water 

19          quality in Orient Harbor, being able to -- 

20          the testing being able to justify keeping the 

21          beds open.  

22                 But I absolutely will continue to work 

23          with you and your fellow members on it.  We 

24          want to find a solution to it.  Sometimes 


                                                                   42

 1          getting a new sampling point can take time.  

 2          The FDA requires a three-year period.  But I 

 3          get your point, and I certainly have 

 4          understood and appreciate the position that 

 5          the oyster farmer's in.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

 7          very much.  

 8                 Let me return the microphone to the 

 9          chair.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

11                 Senator O'Mara.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

13          Chairwoman.

14                 Good morning, Mr. Seggos, 

15          Commissioner.

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thanks for being 

18          here.  Appreciate your input on this.  Got a 

19          few issues I'd like to cover here.

20                 First, the budget calls for many 

21          deferrals of tax credits in a variety of 

22          areas, and the environmental conservation 

23          budget is not exempted from that.  We're 

24          proposing to delay tax credits on brownfield 


                                                                   43

 1          projects, on electric vehicle charging 

 2          stations, just to name a couple.  

 3                 How are we going to move forward with 

 4          these programs without these credits?  I 

 5          think I have a great deal -- I know I have a 

 6          great deal of concern, and I think a lot of 

 7          my colleagues do, on the impact in general 

 8          with these deferrals to New York State's 

 9          credibility as a whole.  

10                 Whether it's to an economic 

11          development project or brownfields cleanup 

12          projects, we're hurting our credibility with 

13          these deferrals.  We did it years ago with 

14          the Empire Zone program.  It took a long time 

15          to recover from that.

16                 What's your reaction to that concern?

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I 

18          appreciate your input on that.  

19                 So we obviously have to find a way to 

20          balance a significant budget.  We have a 

21          budget deficit.  And the thought on the 

22          deferrals is while this is an issue at Tax & 

23          Finance, not specifically at DEC, it 

24          obviously touches an important DEC program.  


                                                                   44

 1                 The deferrals are meant to be 

 2          short-term in nature.  Over a certain 

 3          threshold, the tax credits that are 

 4          attainable by the developer will be deferred 

 5          for three years.  

 6                 The brownfields tax credit pool, as a 

 7          percentage of the total pot of deferments, is 

 8          about 15 percent, so it is a significant 

 9          number.  And we have to find ways to reduce 

10          spending over these three years.  

11                 I hear your point.  We will ensure 

12          that we share that with Tax & Finance and the 

13          Division of Budget.  But I am -- I'm not in 

14          any way concerned that the program itself is 

15          somehow weakened.  We've done, thanks to your 

16          help and the help of this body, great work in 

17          reauthorizing the brownfields tax credit 

18          program.  That's been running very 

19          successfully.  The reforms have worked, I 

20          believe they are working.  We're seeing 

21          better numbers out of that.  We certainly 

22          will continue that work on our end and look 

23          to address any of the concerns that the 

24          Legislature has on that.


                                                                   45

 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So a project, a 

 2          current brownfield project that's underway 

 3          right now, the developer is going to have to 

 4          wait three years to get their tax credits 

 5          under this proposal, correct?  

 6                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Only over the $2 

 7          million.  If they -- the $2 million 

 8          threshold.  So if there are tax credits over 

 9          $2 million, then they'd have to wait for 

10          three years for those particular credits.  

11          Everything under $2 million is --

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  After that three 

13          years, when will they be paid out?  

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  They're paid out 

15          over I believe it's the course of a two or 

16          three-year period, right?

17                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  A 

18          three-year period.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yeah, a 

20          three-year period.  So it's a three-year wait 

21          and then a three-year payout.  Over 

22          $2 million.  

23                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  And 

24          that's per taxpayer.  Which oftentimes with 


                                                                   46

 1          the brownfields program, it's LLCs who are 

 2          participating, so it may not be an individual 

 3          corporation, but it would be a number of 

 4          taxpayers who that would be divided amongst.  

 5          It's $2 million per taxpayer, is my 

 6          understanding.

 7                 SENATOR O'MARA:  That's the threshold, 

 8          $2 million per taxpayer?  So if there's 

 9          multiple individuals in an LLC --

10                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  I believe 

11          so.

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That's right, I 

13          think so, yes.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  If there's 10 

15          individuals, it's a $20 million threshold?  

16                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  I 

17          believe so.  But we'd have to confirm that 

18          with Tax & Finance.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We'll talk to 

20          Tax & Finance for that.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yeah, could you get 

22          back to me on that, please?  

23                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  Yeah.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  With regards to the 


                                                                   47

 1          electric vehicle chargers, the state put in a 

 2          pretty aggressive program to install 2,000 

 3          chargers by 2020.  We had a goal in the state 

 4          to have 3,000 installed by the beginning of 

 5          this year.  It was 1300 chargers short, 

 6          nearly 50 percent short.

 7                 How do we achieve our goals in this 

 8          important area by deferring these credits 

 9          that will further delay implementation of 

10          these charging stations?  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, I might 

12          ask you to raise that with NYSERDA.  I am not 

13          familiar with the details on that particular 

14          deferral.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  I will do 

16          that.

17                 The next area I'd like to get into is 

18          the harmful algal blooms and the decision by 

19          the department and the administration to 

20          choose 12 lakes.  Obviously, when you choose 

21          12 lakes out of the many lakes that we have, 

22          there are many more lakes that are 

23          disgruntled and unhappy about not being 

24          chosen.


                                                                   48

 1                 Being a representative from the 

 2          Finger Lakes, you know, we're very concerned 

 3          about the work that's been ongoing by groups 

 4          around every one of the lakes in regard to 

 5          this.  Cayuga Lake was chosen; Seneca Lake, 

 6          Keuka Lake, Canandaigua Lake were not chosen.  

 7          We had a conference on this a week ago, 

 8          myself with Julie and Venetia from the 

 9          Governor's office.  

10                 But I'm still unclear on how that 

11          selection process went.  Why was one body of 

12          water chosen over another?  Just Seneca as an 

13          example, the largest of the Finger Lakes, 

14          has -- you know, Seneca Lake Pure Waters 

15          Association has done tremendous work in this 

16          regard.  There's a Finger Lakes Regional 

17          Watershed Alliance.  There's a Finger Lakes 

18          Institute.  There's a Federation of Lake 

19          Associations.  

20                 You know, why was Seneca Lake left off 

21          of this?

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I want to 

23          disabuse you of the premise that Seneca Lake 

24          was left off the radar screen.  Okay?  


                                                                   49

 1                 The Governor came up with this very 

 2          ambitious plan to dedicate enhanced resources 

 3          to 12 priority water bodies.  And what we 

 4          tried to do in selecting these 12 water 

 5          bodies was look regionally and try to pick 12 

 6          that are in some way, shape or form different 

 7          from one another.  Because providing a 

 8          long-term solution to those 12 lakes 

 9          inherently requires us to go out and do 

10          science -- enhanced testing of the lakes, 

11          watershed characterization -- and develop 

12          almost a type of lake with the types of 

13          problems that impact it and determine how 

14          those kinds of problems are creating blooms 

15          on the lake.  

16                 Every single lake we have found -- 

17          there's about 150 lakes in New York State -- 

18          lakes and rivers that have been impacted by 

19          algal blooms, they're all different in a way.  

20          There's some different causes.  Some are in 

21          nutrient-rich watersheds.  Some have been 

22          whacked by massive storms, like last summer 

23          on Skaneateles Lake.  Several lakes, we would 

24          fear for them becoming impacted by HABs, like 


                                                                   50

 1          Lake George.  

 2                 So we try to take representative 

 3          samples of types of lakes, apply enhanced 

 4          science, and do some sort of no-regrets 

 5          spending on those lakes to fix problems, 

 6          while at the same -- and that's the 

 7          $65 million proposal -- while at the same 

 8          time remaining as aggressive as we have been 

 9          on all of the other lakes that have had 

10          problems, including, in particular, the 

11          Finger Lakes, the ones you mentioned.

12                 We had created a couple of years ago, 

13          right after I started, the Finger Lakes Water 

14          Hub, which we launched specifically because 

15          of the HABs problem, that looks at all of the 

16          Finger Lakes all at once.  We have enhanced 

17          monitoring now going on in all the Finger 

18          Lakes as a result of that.  We're boosting 

19          monitoring stations.  And we're helping 

20          community groups on those lakes.  You 

21          mentioned Seneca Lake Pure Waters 

22          Association.  There are other community 

23          groups on other lakes, various land trusts.  

24          We're helping them get to the point of 


                                                                   51

 1          developing long-term plans, if long-term 

 2          plans don't exist, and also compete for 

 3          funding.  

 4                 The Clean Water Infrastructure Act 

 5          that you all helped us enact last year has 

 6          given us resources that we never had.  We've 

 7          had the EPF, which has been very helpful.  

 8          The Clean Water Infrastructure Act on the 

 9          land acquisition line is enabling us to spend 

10          money all across the state on waterways that 

11          are impacted, like the ones you mentioned.  

12                 So I fully expect that work to 

13          continue aggressively.  We will not be taking 

14          our eyes off the ball on Seneca Lake or Keuka 

15          or any of the other ones that are impacted.  

16          And if something happens in those lakes, we 

17          will parachute in and attempt to fix the 

18          problems.  

19                 And I will say that lakes that are 

20          impacted by HABs are probably going to be in 

21          a very good place to compete for the state 

22          funding that we have available.  But we'll 

23          continue to work with your office on anything 

24          that comes up.


                                                                   52

 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  What was the source 

 2          of that 65 million?

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's a 

 4          combination of EPF and Clean Water 

 5          Infrastructure Act funding.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And so the lakes 

 7          that -- well, before I get to that, the 

 8          12 lakes that you're studying now, what's 

 9          your timeline on process?  When do you think 

10          you're going to be through this -- at least 

11          the planning stage and going to implement 

12          things and hopefully see some results of 

13          what's worked and what hasn't?

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's funny you 

15          mention that.  Right now the Governor is in 

16          New Paltz convening a HAB summit that I would 

17          otherwise be at but for today's fun here in 

18          Albany.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  You'd rather be 

20          there.

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would much 

22          rather be there, of course.

23                 (Laughter.)

24                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  He of 


                                                                   53

 1          course would rather be here before you, 

 2          Senator.

 3                 (Laughter.)

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We're doing four 

 5          HAB summits in a very short period of time.  

 6          So the first one today, the next one is in 

 7          Syracuse focusing on -- that's the 5th or 

 8          6th, I believe, focusing on the Finger Lakes, 

 9          then we go west, Western New York, and then 

10          North Country.  

11                 All of those summits are designed to 

12          bring actual experts to the table, not just 

13          talk but experts, to give us their 

14          perspectives on how to fix problems -- 

15          understanding that each lake is different, 

16          how do you fix the lake.  We'll convene those 

17          summits, get expert reports done and actually 

18          projects underway hopefully this year, this 

19          summer.  So it's designed to be a fast 

20          process, and we want to be ready for the 

21          summer's HABs problems.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  Thank you.

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.


                                                                   54

 1                 Assembly?  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 3          Lifton.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you very 

 5          much.  

 6                 Good morning, Mr. Seggos.

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Do I ask you or 

 9          NYSERDA about tracking progress on climate 

10          goals?  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Tracking 

12          progress on our emissions targets?  I would 

13          encourage you to talk to NYSERDA about that.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Okay, I will do 

15          that.

16                 Let me pick up quickly on the HAB 

17          issue.  I guess we're going to have to decide 

18          on pronunciation.  You're saying HABs; out in 

19          the boonies out where I live, we're saying 

20          H-A-Bs.  We're going to have to figure that 

21          one out.  

22                 So you've answered some of my 

23          questions.  The proposal said that there will 

24          be half a million dollars for the study of 


                                                                   55

 1          each lake.  Obviously, some lakes are very, 

 2          very large, some are smaller.  Some have very 

 3          complex, huge watersheds and so on.

 4                 So presumably, having some set amount 

 5          is not going to really work in terms of -- 

 6          and I presume some lakes already have data.  

 7          I'm told some lakes, they have a lot of data 

 8          because of these groups that have been doing 

 9          work and monitoring soil and water and other 

10          things, and some have very little.  So how is 

11          that money actually going to go in terms of 

12          studying -- is it going to be -- it doesn't 

13          make sense to me to have half a million 

14          dollars for each lake.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It's up to half 

16          a million dollars for each lake.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Okay.

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think you're 

19          right to observe some lakes are better 

20          positioned than others.  We've done enormous 

21          testing on some of the Finger Lakes; some of 

22          that data has been generated for years.  

23          There are parts of Lake Champlain where we 

24          see problems where there's not as good an 


                                                                   56

 1          understanding of causes where we might need 

 2          to spend more money.  We obviously wouldn't 

 3          spend $500,000 on the entire Lake Champlain.  

 4                 But those monies are designed to be 

 5          available quickly.  The testing, sampling and 

 6          planning being done quickly, gathering 

 7          information as quickly as possible, so that 

 8          we have a good scientific picture of the root 

 9          causes of problems on these lakes.

10                 Again, as you and I have spoken about, 

11          there may be -- some of the reasons may range 

12          from ag to failing septic systems, failing 

13          wastewater treatment plants, and stormwater 

14          problems.  And some of the storms that, 

15          again, we saw last summer -- that one storm 

16          that came through on the July 4th weekend 

17          that came through the Mohawk Valley probably 

18          was the cause for the huge bloom we saw on 

19          Skaneateles Lake, which had never seen a 

20          bloom like this.  

21                 So again, it's, you know, getting the 

22          science in the right place, doing the correct 

23          testing up-front if necessary, and ultimately 

24          having that inform the ultimate plan itself.


                                                                   57

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Everyone seems 

 2          to agree that it's a very complicated 

 3          problem.

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  It is.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  And it's been 

 6          sort of festering and growing every year.  So 

 7          I think we need to be very careful to make 

 8          sure we get these studies right, maybe not 

 9          rush that process, but make sure we do it 

10          very well to make sure, as we attack these 

11          problems, that we're doing it in the right 

12          way and not throwing good money after bad.

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Agreed.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I'm assuming, 

15          too, that $65 million is just for a shot at 

16          this; this is going to be a much bigger 

17          problem over time.  Is that a multiyear 

18          funding amount?  Are we going to be looking 

19          at this every year in terms of new funding 

20          for this?  

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, we -- we 

22          certainly anticipate this first year I'd say 

23          maybe $11 million of it going towards science 

24          and the bulk of it towards these projects 


                                                                   58

 1          that are designed to fix some of the 

 2          problems.  That's year one.  

 3                 Beyond year one, the Governor has made 

 4          a commitment through the EPF to keep the EPF 

 5          at $300 million.  We now have a multiyear 

 6          commitment on the Clean Water Infrastructure 

 7          Act.  Again, those buckets of money are going 

 8          to be the tools with which we fix the 

 9          problems that we see.

10                 So I think you will see an awareness 

11          this year, hopefully unlike we've had in the 

12          past, and a sense of how we can fix problems, 

13          and an ability to replicate that elsewhere.  

14          So a -- Skaneateles Lake is similar to X lake 

15          over here, so we have effectively a similar 

16          model that we can employ.  

17                 And those funds being available in 

18          future years will -- you know, we'll have 

19          next year a discussion about what the next 

20          big proposal is, but I expect that the EPF 

21          and Clean Water Infrastructure Act are going 

22          to be held constant, and I think those will 

23          be sources of funds to fix problems.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Another thing I 


                                                                   59

 1          read in the proposal on HABs is that maybe 

 2          there's an intention to try to do remedies 

 3          through voluntary best practices.  I think 

 4          there's some concern.  Do we have reason to 

 5          think that voluntary best practices really 

 6          work and are successful, or are we going to 

 7          need law and regulation to try to tackle some 

 8          of these issues.

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, all 

10          options are on the table for us on this.  

11          Creating new laws, new regulations would take 

12          time.  Obviously, talking about new laws, we 

13          would need to work with you on that, figure 

14          out what the needs are.  

15                 I mean, voluntary compliance, in my 

16          view, is powerful.  I think farmers -- just 

17          taking farmers for an example -- want to do 

18          right by the environment.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  It hasn't been 

20          working so well so far in terms of soil and 

21          water, trying to get farmers to change their 

22          habits around --

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I think 

24          the resources, frankly, that we've given them 


                                                                   60

 1          -- sorry.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I'm sorry.

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  The resources 

 4          we've given them over the last few years 

 5          through the EPF, with the Clean Water 

 6          Infrastructure Act, helping to reduce runoff, 

 7          doing land acquisition, buffer streams, 

 8          stream buffer areas --

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  We think that's 

10          working?  We think that's working?  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I believe it is 

12          going to work.  This is just year one of the 

13          Clean Water Infrastructure Act  program.  

14          It's going to take time.  And we want them to 

15          come into the system.  We want them to see 

16          the reasons for entering the system, but also 

17          to see that there are funds available for the 

18          upkeep of their properties.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you, 

20          Commissioner.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

23                 Senator Kaminsky.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  And if I could 


                                                                   61

 1          just clarify one thing, just so it's not 

 2          lost.  The $55 million that we're talking 

 3          about for projects is not just the 12 water 

 4          bodies that we're working on, it's all of the 

 5          water bodies that are impacted by HABs.  

 6                 Sorry.  Senator?  

 7                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Could you repeat that 

 8          again?  

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  The $55 million 

10          that we're proposing for the HABs initiative 

11          is not just for the 12 water bodies that are 

12          part of this priority program.  We're going 

13          to spend money, obviously, on studying those 

14          12 water bodies up-front.  But the ultimate 

15          implementation money, $55 million, is 

16          available to HABs-impacted waterways.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

18                 Senator Kaminsky.

19                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Thank you.  

20                 Good morning, Commissioner.

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator.

22                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Some very 

23          interesting news on the 1,4-dioxane front in 

24          the last day.  


                                                                   62

 1                 Really, first of all, overall, very 

 2          pleased with how the state has jumped on this 

 3          problem.  I think we see nationwide what 

 4          happens when contaminants go ignored for far 

 5          too long.  And I certainly think relying on 

 6          Washington is not an option here.  

 7                 But there are some challenges posed as 

 8          well.  I just want to show you an article on 

 9          Page A2 of Newsday today that I'm holding up, 

10          it talks about billions of dollars of funding 

11          needed in order to get the proper technology 

12          where it should go.

13                 So I'm happy we're in a place where 

14          we're going to be setting maximum limits.  

15          I'm happy we're getting to a place where we 

16          have the technology.  But I want to know your 

17          thoughts on how we are able to implement 

18          this, where the funding may come from, and 

19          whether there's a plan to triage it or roll 

20          it out in a manner that you think is going to 

21          be most efficacious.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, the 

23          Drinking Water Council met yesterday.  You're 

24          referencing the meeting they had when they 


                                                                   63

 1          discussed a range of possible MCLs for 

 2          1,4-dioxane.  They didn't set the MCL; that 

 3          will come shortly.  As I understand, we will 

 4          be recommending to the health commissioner a 

 5          particular level.  

 6                 The good thing about the council that 

 7          it involves not just state officials but, in 

 8          particular, some of the water providers and 

 9          local officials down in Long Island and 

10          elsewhere.  

11                 We don't know where we're going to be 

12          when they come out with a number, but we know 

13          that there are drinking water sources that we 

14          would want to protect with this new enhanced 

15          technology.  And you're referencing some of 

16          the potential costs of that.  I don't know 

17          where we will be on it.  We'll be there -- 

18          probably in the next couple of months, we'll 

19          see a recommended level.  And then we're 

20          going to have to have a discussion about how 

21          we get to installing these AOP systems in 

22          communities where they are needed.  

23                 Thankfully, it looks like the number 

24          of sites that are potentially drinking water 


                                                                   64

 1          sites that are potentially impacted may be 

 2          lower.  But until the number is set, we're 

 3          not going to know what the full universe is.

 4                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay.  Well, I look 

 5          forward to continuing that conversation.  I 

 6          know Senator Phillips and I have worked 

 7          really hard on this issue and certainly think 

 8          this would be a very good use of state 

 9          funding down the road, as opposed to having 

10          ratepayers have to really be hit with this.  

11          Costs on Long Island, of course, are 

12          extremely high, and water has been pretty 

13          controversial this year in light of what 

14          people have been paying.  So I look forward 

15          to that conversation.

16                 I want to shift over to Bay Park, 

17          another area that I'm really glad the 

18          administration is focused on.  It's critical 

19          for the Western Bays.  And I'd like to know 

20          where we are and what else has to happen in 

21          order to get Bay Park over the finish line 

22          and get Long Beach attached to it.

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, we were at 

24          that great event back in I think it was 


                                                                   65

 1          December down on Long Island where the 

 2          Governor announced that we had signed a 

 3          consent order with Nassau County for them to 

 4          modernize their system by effectively 

 5          connecting an outfall to an existing plant, 

 6          the Cedar Creek plant.  

 7                 We're working overtime now with Nassau 

 8          County officials to develop what is a 

 9          somewhat complicated plan of construction 

10          over the next couple of years, how we get 

11          wastewater through rights-of-ways, through 

12          the existing tunnel and over to the Cedar 

13          Creek outfall.  It's an engineering 

14          challenge.  

15                 We have the county on the hook now for 

16          it.  We have county funding, we've got state 

17          funding, we have some federal funding as 

18          well.  I expect this is going to absorb an 

19          enormous amount of our time over the coming 

20          years as we get this done, but it will be a 

21          game-changer in Long Island for water 

22          quality.

23                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Okay.  And you're 

24          committed to seeing the funding through to 


                                                                   66

 1          get the project done.

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Absolutely, yes.

 3                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Well, I look 

 4          forward to the day I can send my sewage into 

 5          Senator Brooks's district, so I appreciate 

 6          it.

 7                 (Laughter.)

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  He looks happy.

 9                 SENATOR BROOKS:  It's nice to get a 

10          gift from him every once in a while.

11                 (Laughter.)

12                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  I too would like to 

13          add my voice to Senator O'Mara's, Chairman 

14          O'Mara's, on the brownfield credit issue.  

15          You know, I think I feel like we're changing 

16          the rules mid-game on a lot of people who 

17          have signed up to participate in this worthy 

18          program.  I think certain projects -- I've 

19          heard from developers personally who are 

20          going to be in jeopardy day one.  So I'd like 

21          for us to consider how we can make up for the 

22          deficit without endangering any of those 

23          projects or the existing program.  And I hope 

24          you can take a look at that.


                                                                   67

 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  I 

 2          will.

 3                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Thank you.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 6                 Assemblywoman Woerner.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you, 

 8          Ms. Chairman.  

 9                 And thank you, Commissioner.  I have 

10          just a couple of questions.  

11                 So first I want to thank you for your 

12          leadership on the PCB cleanup.

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  It's great.  

15          The testing that you all did and the 

16          leadership you're showing on really holding 

17          GE's feet to the fire is terrific, and I 

18          appreciate that.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

20          Likewise.  Thank you.  

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you.

22                 With respect to the diversion of food 

23          scraps to landfills in 2021, one of the 

24          challenges we have with digesters is that 


                                                                   68

 1          NYSERDA's incentives have expired for the 

 2          development of additional digesters upstate, 

 3          and the PSC has up to this point been not 

 4          willing to set an economic rate for the power 

 5          produced by the digesters.  And from your 

 6          earlier remarks, it's clear that you 

 7          recognize that digesters are a linchpin 

 8          technology in the success of this program.  

 9                 So I'm just wondering if you have been 

10          in conversations with NYSERDA and the PSC 

11          about rectifying the energy side of this 

12          equation to make sure that this program is 

13          successful.

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We have been in 

15          conversations with our sister agencies on 

16          this.  We do see an important role for 

17          digesters to play, ultimately not just with 

18          their food waste but many other issues 

19          throughout the state on farms.  

20                 So we'll be working with them on this.  

21          And there are certain things that we can do 

22          as well at the DEC to facilitate digesters.  

23          We've proposed some changes through SEQRA to 

24          facilitate the creation of projects that may 


                                                                   69

 1          reduce some of the burden of getting projects 

 2          through the pipeline.  

 3                 At the same time, we're sensitive to 

 4          the environmental justice populations who 

 5          don't want digesters at sewage plants, 

 6          because that means potentially more trucks 

 7          through streets, city streets.  So it's a bit 

 8          of a difficult balance.  

 9                 On the SEQRA side, we see a -- the 

10          State Environmental Quality Review Act, 

11          SEQRA, we see an opportunity to get something 

12          done through that.  But we'll be talking to 

13          NYSERDA and DPS, certainly.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Great.  Thank 

15          you very much.  

16                 The 480-a change in the forestry 

17          regulations, can you articulate a little bit 

18          more about how those changes that have been 

19          proposed will provide for the small private 

20          landowner that does their own, you know, 

21          modest amount of forestry and logging?  

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  And I'll 

23          have Julie pinch-hit for me as well.  This is 

24          one of her babies.


                                                                   70

 1                 So we've been doing stakeholder 

 2          outreach on this for the better part of three 

 3          or maybe four years, talking to the universe 

 4          of people and individuals that would be 

 5          impacted by changes in forest tax credit law.  

 6          A significant number, millions and millions 

 7          of acres of land -- I think it's like 19 

 8          million acres of land -- is held -- 

 9          forestland is held in private hands.  And 

10          there are extraordinary climate benefits to 

11          well-managed forests.  

12                 We want to keep the current tax credit 

13          program, make sure that it remains 

14          attractive, but also move to the next phase 

15          where it can become slightly more efficient 

16          but also more attractive to the landowners 

17          themselves by reducing the burdens on them.  

18                 This is currently a stumpage tax 

19          that's paid out, a 6 percent stumpage tax.  

20          We would propose to eliminate that.  We would 

21          propose to give landowners the opportunity -- 

22          who may not have large tracts of land -- drop 

23          it from 50 acres currently down to 25.  That 

24          would give more participants the chance to 


                                                                   71

 1          come into the program, and also give credit 

 2          where credit is due to open space.

 3                 Some of the land, forest and open 

 4          space land on certain tracts, we frankly 

 5          would want to keep both of those types of 

 6          habitats vibrant on land, on properties.  And 

 7          up to 50 percent of a landowner's 

 8          participation could be through open space 

 9          preservation.  

10                 So it's an important -- it would be an 

11          important change.  The benefits to the 

12          landowners would be significant, because 

13          you're increasing the ability for the 

14          landowner to, from a forest certified 

15          perspective, sustainable harvestry, bringing 

16          that wood off the land while at the same time 

17          keeping local governments whole.  That would 

18          be something we would work on, because this 

19          wouldn't take effect until next year.  Local 

20          governments we would seek to make whole 

21          through our budget next year.  

22                 Julie, I want to give her credit for 

23          this.  Julie and my entire team, and 

24          certainly all the stakeholders, have done an 


                                                                   72

 1          enormous job tackling this somewhat complex 

 2          but really attractive program.  And we've 

 3          been very optimistic about its chances of 

 4          succeeding here in New York based on some of 

 5          the feedback we've gotten.

 6                 Want to add anything, Julie?

 7                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  I think 

 8          one of the ideas which form the new 480-b, as 

 9          the program is called, is allowing a straight 

10          certification program, which we recognize 

11          would now probably be the larger forest 

12          owners, your Lyme types of organizations.  

13          And we would recognize all the work they're 

14          doing to have their land certified by 

15          providing them with a continued large credit 

16          of 70 percent.  

17                 But we would also make a program 

18          that's less burdensome than 480-a is now, 

19          which requires very proscribed cutting 

20          associated with that by providing a 

21          40 percent reduction in property taxes, but 

22          also offering different avenues for them to 

23          enter the program.  You know, it's limited to 

24          a minimum of 10 acres of work that would need 


                                                                   73

 1          to be done on the property, whether that's a 

 2          timber cut -- which we think would probably 

 3          be the most attractive way in, it's the only 

 4          practice that we allow that would make money 

 5          for the property owner.  Other things could 

 6          be wetlands restoration or habitat management 

 7          or a thinning of a property, which you need 

 8          to do to maintain a healthy forest.  

 9                 So we've provided a bunch of different 

10          avenues for them to come in and make it 

11          easier.  We're also offering an off-ramp for 

12          people who don't want to be in 480 anymore, 

13          because we know that that's one of the 

14          criticisms of the program.  We want to help 

15          promote it.

16                 We've coupled that -- I think one of 

17          the things that we're really trying to do is 

18          we're coupling that with two proposed grant 

19          programs.  Both are proposed to be funded by 

20          the Environmental Protection Fund, one to 

21          support forestry management practices on 

22          property which are similar to a federal EQIP 

23          program, which in the State of New York 

24          almost all of those funds go to the 


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 1          agricultural community, which will help 

 2          really provide the support for the landowners 

 3          to implement those practices.

 4                 The other would also be to support 

 5          forestry by communities.  The State of 

 6          New York has a very active timber management 

 7          program on our unconstitutionally protected 

 8          lands, I guess our lands not protected by the 

 9          constitution.  And, you know, we'd like to 

10          see that help support local governments who 

11          want to do something similar, where you can 

12          have a sustainable timber harvest of your 

13          property that will help provide jobs for the 

14          forest products industry while maintaining 

15          forestland.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Great.  Thank 

17          you very much.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

19                 Senate?  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Our 

21          next speaker is Senator Pamela Helming.

22                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you, 

23          Senator Young.

24                 Commissioner, thank you so much for 


                                                                   75

 1          being here today.

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, thank 

 3          you.

 4                 SENATOR HELMING:  The first thing I 

 5          want to say is thank you to your office, 

 6          including Julie, for spending a considerable 

 7          amount of time with me during the past year.  

 8          Most of our conversations, our meetings have 

 9          centered around three issues in the Finger 

10          Lakes region.  One is solid waste management, 

11          two is protection of our very precious lakes, 

12          and the third has to do with Lake Ontario and 

13          the implementation of Plan 2014 and the 

14          subsequent flooding that occurred.

15                 So I just wanted to start by quickly 

16          going back to the harmful algal blooms.  It 

17          seems that every time I do have a 

18          conversations with representatives from the 

19          DEC, the information changes slightly, so I 

20          just want to confirm.  

21                 There's $65 million that's been set 

22          aside for this most recent program, 

23          $10 million of that being used to host these 

24          four listening sessions, whatever you want to 


                                                                   76

 1          call them, steering committee meetings, the 

 2          hiring of the experts.  Is that correct?

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Just to be 

 4          clear, it's not $10 million for the summits, 

 5          it's $10 million for any science or planning 

 6          that's needed on all those lakes.

 7                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  And that 

 8          actually includes the pilot programs that 

 9          will be associated with this, which are both 

10          for treatment system treatments that can be 

11          done as well as monitoring.  And that 

12          includes the, quote, $500,000 a lake that's 

13          been identified associated with each of those 

14          action plans.

15                 SENATOR HELMING:  Okay, thanks for 

16          that clarification.  So that leaves 

17          $55 million.  And my understanding from your 

18          recent testimony is that that money will be 

19          available through grants to any and all 

20          lakes.  Is that correct?  

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Impacted by 

22          HABs.

23                 SENATOR HELMING:  Impacted by HABs.  

24                 But my question is, we now have 


                                                                   77

 1          identified 12 priority lakes.  Lakes like 

 2          Canandaigua Lake, Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake 

 3          that aren't on those priority lists, will 

 4          they score the same?  What is your plan for 

 5          ranking the grant applications?  Will 

 6          priority lakes be given preference over the 

 7          other lakes?

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, we 

 9          certainly want to find a way to give added 

10          priority to the lakes that are impacted by 

11          HABs.  I think we will be able to pull it 

12          off.  We're working on the language right now 

13          that would pass muster with the comptroller's 

14          and AG's reviews of that program, make sure 

15          that it comports with state law.  

16                 But for us, it is a fairly 

17          straightforward objective.  We need to get 

18          money to fix the problem, the Governor has 

19          made that very clear, and we need to make 

20          that available as widely as possible.

21                 Again, going back to what I had 

22          mentioned earlier, we have -- in an almost 

23          uncoordinated way over the last few years, we 

24          have been spending money on HABs problems 


                                                                   78

 1          through grant applications that come in, 

 2          projects that we undertake, Ag & Markets 

 3          spending money on farms, EFC funding, various 

 4          municipal wastewater upgrades, stormwater 

 5          upgrades.  So it was all, in effect, being 

 6          done.  

 7                 The purpose of the initiative now is 

 8          to harness all of that effort into one place 

 9          and give priority -- on the HAB side, give 

10          priority to lakes that have problems 

11          currently.

12                 SENATOR HELMING:  So for instance, 

13          Seneca Lake, I think they've had more 

14          documented harmful algal blooms, the toxic 

15          algal blooms, than any other lake.  So if 

16          they apply for a grant, are they considered a 

17          priority because they have HABs?  Or are they 

18          not -- will they not be given --

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, they would 

20          be.  I mean, they would be considered a 

21          priority lake.  If there's a HAB that's 

22          impacting recreation or water quality, 

23          drinking water quality -- it would need to be 

24          those two things, not a theoretical problem 


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 1          on a lake that isn't, you know, used by a 

 2          recreational group or a source of drinking 

 3          water.  And those would be the criteria that 

 4          we think would help the lake score well.  

 5                 Seneca Lake is obviously not only a 

 6          critical Finger Lake from a tourism 

 7          perspective, but is also a source of drinking 

 8          water.  So I would think that would score 

 9          well.

10                 SENATOR HELMING:  Absolutely.  And 

11          that sets up my comment about my frustration 

12          that Keuka Lake, Canandaigua Lake and Seneca 

13          Lake were left off that priority list of 12.  

14                 If you rank -- well, I've spoken to 

15          your office on numerous occasions about how 

16          the lakes were selected and ranked.  And in 

17          every instance, it's my feeling that 

18          especially Canandaigua and Seneca Lake, that 

19          do provide drinking water to hundreds of 

20          thousands of people, are the economic drivers 

21          of those communities, that they should have 

22          absolutely, without question, been included 

23          in the 12 priority lakes.

24                 I just want to go quickly to these 


                                                                   80

 1          listening sessions that are being conducted 

 2          too.  I think it would have been beneficial 

 3          to all if the meetings were open to the 

 4          public.  That's the morning portion, where 

 5          the discussions will occur with the experts.  

 6          By closing out, by shutting out the public 

 7          and other experts who'd like to be there just 

 8          to listen in, I think that is a detriment to 

 9          finding solutions or involving the public.  

10                 And when we're spending taxpayers' 

11          dollars, it's just my general feeling that we 

12          should be more transparent and these meetings 

13          should be open to everyone.

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay, just so 

15          you -- obviously there's a morning and 

16          evening session.  The concept of the morning 

17          session is to get expert testimony.  For lack 

18          of a better word, it's a bit wonkier than the 

19          average meeting, discussing loadings and more 

20          the scientific, complicated issues.  

21                 But we wanted to have a public 

22          component also, and that is the evening 

23          session.  But I take your point.

24                 SENATOR HELMING:  So just along those 


                                                                   81

 1          lines, then, Senator O'Mara mentioned several 

 2          organizations specific just to Seneca Lake 

 3          that have experts on them that aren't invited 

 4          or cannot participate or be a listener, just 

 5          sit in the audience and listen to those 

 6          discussions.  They could learn something from 

 7          those discussions and take them back to their 

 8          organizations.  So that's a miss.  That's a 

 9          miss, and that's my opinion on that.

10                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  I think 

11          there may be some -- I mean, I'm not sure 

12          about Seneca Pure Waters, but I definitely 

13          know the Finger Lakes Institute and some of 

14          these other organizations that were mentioned 

15          have been invited, and some are in fact on 

16          the steering committees.  

17                 So there are steering committees 

18          associated with each individual lake.  And 

19          then on top of that, we've invited other 

20          people to participate in these sessions where 

21          there's going to be working groups where they 

22          really sort of get into the meat and sort of 

23          figure out how to best to proceed as they 

24          develop those action plans.  And then on top 


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 1          of that, we have the open-to-the-public 

 2          session that the commissioner mentioned.

 3                 So there are -- I mean, to my 

 4          understanding, and I've definitely looked at 

 5          this, the Finger Lakes Institute, definitely 

 6          invited.  If there's other organizations you 

 7          want us to make sure are invited to some of 

 8          these sessions, since obviously the only one 

 9          we've actually held is happening right now in 

10          New Paltz, we would be happy to look at 

11          those. 

12                 SENATOR HELMING:  And Julie, you and I 

13          have had this discussion.  I think that those 

14          meetings should be open to whoever would like 

15          to attend.  I don't think the public should 

16          be limited to 6 to 8 p.m. at night.

17                 But moving on from there and on to 

18          solid waste management in the Finger Lakes 

19          region.  I mean, we all agree, we're all on 

20          the same page that it is critically important 

21          that we protect our natural resources, 

22          especially our water bodies.  

23                 In my Senate district, are you aware 

24          of the waste incinerator that's been proposed 


                                                                   83

 1          for Romulus, New York?  

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I am aware of 

 3          the proposal, yes.  We have not received an 

 4          application on that, though.

 5                 SENATOR HELMING:  But have you had 

 6          meetings with the representatives from the 

 7          incinerator?  

 8                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I have not.  My 

 9          office may have.  Typically when we get these 

10          kinds of applications coming our way, there's 

11          a preapplication meeting.  And I know that 

12          there was a large community hearing, if you 

13          will, down in the Romulus area on this.

14                 SENATOR HELMING:  Right.  So the 

15          application was submitted locally.  It's 

16          since been pulled and now has gone to 

17          Article 10.  And my question is now that the 

18          application will be reviewed under the 

19          Article 10 requirements, does that negate the 

20          need for a solid waste management permit?  

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I would have to 

22          get back to you with an answer on that.  I -- 

23          the interplay between Article 10 and -- 

24          typically, you know, years ago this would 


                                                                   84

 1          have been a SEQRA process.  Now that it's an 

 2          energy-generating station, we'd have to 

 3          determine -- I believe DEC's permits would 

 4          still remain in effect, we would still have 

 5          to issue permits, to a degree.

 6                 But we'll get back to you with an 

 7          answer on that.

 8                 SENATOR HELMING:  Okay.  I have 

 9          received responses from your office, but it's 

10          that no, there are no solid waste management 

11          permits that would be required.  SEQRA will 

12          not be required; that's a whole other 

13          process.  Which is my concern.  Again -- 

14                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  But to 

15          clarify, to clarify, the general requirements 

16          associated with the permits that DEC issues 

17          normally, as an individual permit, are 

18          generally incorporated into Article 10.  

19                 So for example, if there are permits 

20          associated -- you know, if there are air 

21          permit requirements associated with that, 

22          those would be folded into the Article 10 

23          component, generally speaking, unless there's 

24          a federal permit associated with that.  But 


                                                                   85

 1          we can confirm on all of those particular 

 2          details.

 3                 SENATOR HELMING:  Okay.

 4                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  But 

 5          generally speaking, that's handled within the 

 6          Article 10 process.

 7                 SENATOR HELMING:  And I think it is 

 8          critically important that the DEC be involved 

 9          every step of the way.  This has the 

10          potential to have a huge negative impact on 

11          our lakes.  This proposal, the waste 

12          incinerator is proposed to be 3.5 miles from 

13          Seneca Lake.  

14                 And also, something that I found 

15          interesting was that the largest source of 

16          greenhouse gases, what I heard from your 

17          testimony, Commissioner, comes from 

18          transportation.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Correct.

20                 SENATOR HELMING:  This waste 

21          incinerator project alone is proposing an 

22          additional 260 trucks on the road.  So think 

23          of the emissions from that.  And it's not 

24          solving a local issue.  We have two landfills 


                                                                   86

 1          within less than 20 miles of this proposed 

 2          incinerator, so we don't have a need locally 

 3          for the incinerator.  The waste is going to 

 4          be trucked in from downstate, from out of 

 5          state.  It's -- it has -- it's just wrong.  

 6          We take more than our fair share of waste in 

 7          the Finger Lakes area.  We don't need a waste 

 8          incinerator program.

 9                 But one of the questions I have for 

10          you is, does the DEC consider the energy 

11          generated from waste incinerators clean 

12          energy?

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Do we consider 

14          the energy generated at waste incinerators 

15          clean energy?

16                 SENATOR HELMING:  Mm-hmm.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, I -- I 

18          mean, it's a theoretical question.  What's 

19          clean energy, in my mind, is windmills, solar 

20          power, hydro.  I mean, those are the big 

21          categories.  Waste energy, in my mind, is -- 

22          you know, is an older technology.  

23                 We see lots of proposals that come to 

24          us, I'm aware of many types of technologies 


                                                                   87

 1          that they claim to be renewable.  My biggest 

 2          concerns, whenever I hear of a project, are 

 3          is there an appropriate recycling system in 

 4          place before this type of a system is 

 5          proposed?  Are there no other alternatives?  

 6          You know, we have a system to review these 

 7          projects as they come to us.  This one hasn't 

 8          come to us yet.  And I know it has generated 

 9          an enormous amount of public interest and 

10          opposition, and we'll give it a fair shake.  

11                 But our perspective on renewable 

12          resources is that, you know, the other 

13          technologies is where the state will put 

14          emphasis.  And we'll fairly and justly 

15          process permit applications when they arrive 

16          at our agency.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator 

18          Helming.  It sounds like you have some very 

19          compelling local issues.  So if you want to 

20          come back for Round Two after the other 

21          members have spoken, that would be fine.

22                 And I want to let members know that.  

23          If you have a lot of questions, there is a 

24          chance for another round.  But we want to get 


                                                                   88

 1          to everybody and let them have a chance to 

 2          ask their questions during the first round.

 3                 The Assembly?  

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 5          Croci -- Crouch.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Thank you, 

 7          Chairwoman.  

 8                 Commissioner, thank you for being 

 9          here.

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Assemblyman.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  A question, acres 

12          of wetland -- how many acres of wetland does 

13          DEC own across the state?

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Acres of 

15          wetlands?  It's got to be tens to hundreds of 

16          thousands, I would think.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  You have a 

18          program for mosquito management, like to 

19          guard against West Nile virus?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I know that was 

21          an issue back in the mid-2000s, the West Nile 

22          virus.  There was a debate at the time about 

23          spraying into wetlands.  

24                 We have -- you know, our objective is 


                                                                   89

 1          to -- with West Nile is to support our 

 2          officials at DOH.  When questions come up 

 3          about wetlands -- you know, are there 

 4          applications that need to be made to us for 

 5          spraying of insecticides -- we would take 

 6          those as they come to us.  I have not 

 7          received those types of questions from the 

 8          DOH over the last couple of years.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  DEC is proposing 

10          that farmers that cover their -- hold a tarp 

11          down on their silage piles, that they have to 

12          cut or bore all the tires.  And that's, 

13          number one, a very labor-intensive, very 

14          costly endeavor.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  It also could be 

17          dangerous, because the tires have wires in 

18          them and could deem that they're no longer 

19          basically effective, could be puncturing 

20          holes in the tarp.  

21                 So in consideration of, you know, 

22          numbers of the acres of wetlands across the 

23          state that we don't necessarily do anything 

24          with unless it's a spotty problem, it seems 


                                                                   90

 1          like this is kind of a small chump change way 

 2          of trying to attack the West Nile problem and 

 3          putting the burden of labor and cost on the 

 4          farmers that use these tires.  

 5                 And I just, you know, wonder if 

 6          there's some other way that we can look at 

 7          this with some type of a program and certain 

 8          times of the year or whatever.  Basically, 

 9          you know, a very little amount of water can 

10          be contained in a tire if it's on a pile 

11          because it's usually on a slope or whatever.  

12          And with three days of good hot, sunny 

13          weather, that water is basically evaporated 

14          anyway, so the problem seems to dissipate.  

15                 Just your thoughts on an alternative 

16          possibility.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I will 

18          tell you this was a small component of a 

19          large undertaking, the Part 360 revisions 

20          that we did this year.

21                 We've been in contact, heard loud and 

22          clear from the farming community of their 

23          concerns.  I believe you sent me a letter on 

24          this as well.


                                                                   91

 1                 So our staff has been in touch with 

 2          the Farm Bureau to find ways in which to push 

 3          the requirements off for a period of time to 

 4          give us the chance to understand how best to 

 5          perhaps modify the requirement.  

 6                 I'll give my staff credit for finding 

 7          ways in which to reduce the threat of 

 8          mosquito-borne illnesses.  But I think we 

 9          understand the problems associated with 

10          tires, that tires are important to the 

11          farming community.  I see them myself out 

12          there on tops of piles holding down plastic.  

13                 But the steel-belted nature of them 

14          makes boring through them and cutting them 

15          difficult and sometimes hazardous.  So we 

16          intend to continue working on this over the 

17          next year with the farming community to see 

18          if there's a path forward that makes sense 

19          for them and for us.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Okay.  Thank you 

21          for looking into that.  And I would encourage 

22          you to hold off and look for other 

23          alternatives.  It seems to be going after the 

24          West Nile problem with sort of a fly swatter 


                                                                   92

 1          approach, if that's -- if you don't have a 

 2          lot of other avenues on some of the wetlands 

 3          that we've encouraged.  And over the years, 

 4          you know, DEC has welcomed the opportunity to 

 5          create more wetlands, so we've exacerbated 

 6          the problem in other ways, I believe.

 7                 I'm always asking a question on our 

 8          state woodland management.  I still get 

 9          comments from some local loggers about trees 

10          are dying in some of the state forests, good 

11          quality trees.  And of course we've got the 

12          issue with the ash borer killing the ash 

13          trees now.  I'm always asking, you know, are 

14          we increasing the number of foresters out 

15          there that we can -- and are we marketing 

16          more aggressively some of our state forest 

17          products?  And certainly the state at this 

18          point in time could use the revenue.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  I think 

20          the answer to those is yes.  I mean, we have 

21          done good work in the last few years to 

22          increase sales of timber from state-owned 

23          lands, I think $7 million a year for the past 

24          two years.  It's a record.  Last three years, 


                                                                   93

 1          right.  It's a record.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Good.

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So our lands and 

 4          forest division that runs these cuts does the 

 5          assessments, working with the forestry 

 6          certifying bodies.  They've been working very 

 7          well, they've become more streamlined.  And 

 8          frankly I think the acceptance of the need to 

 9          do sustainable cuts has become more 

10          widespread statewide.  And we've shown that 

11          we can do this in a way that protects the 

12          environment but gives the timber industry a 

13          chance to survive in the state.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  I know some of 

15          the sale of timber was rather dormant for a 

16          few years, so it takes a while to get caught 

17          back up.  But I do appreciate your efforts 

18          and your support on that.

19                 One other thing, in my district or 

20          just outside of my district is the Rogers 

21          Environmental Center.  And I just want to 

22          tell you how much I support that.  I would 

23          like to see DEC more involved in the 

24          operation of that.  The Friends of Rogers 


                                                                   94

 1          have done a great job, as you know, of 

 2          keeping the mission there.

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  My understanding 

 5          is that just recently DEC put a ton of money 

 6          into the environmental center not too far 

 7          from here, and certainly we'd like to be on 

 8          the slate for a good slug of money into the 

 9          Rogers Environmental Center in Sherburne.  So 

10          I just wanted to get that on the record, and 

11          hopefully you'll support that.

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay, thank you.  

13          I'll look into it.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CROUCH:  Thank you.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yup.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

17                 Our next speaker is Senator Elaine 

18          Phillips.

19                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  Good morning.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good morning.

21                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  First, 

22          Commissioner, thank you.  Thank you for 

23          coming today.  I also want to thank you and 

24          Julie and Senator O'Mara for meeting with me 


                                                                   95

 1          last week on the Jamaica Wells issue.  

 2                 I just would like to reiterate that 

 3          the Lloyd Aquifer is vulnerable and one of 

 4          our most valuable resources that we have on 

 5          Long Island.  So in your analysis and thought 

 6          process of what kind of conditions will be on 

 7          the repermitting, please, those wells should 

 8          be excluded from the repermitting process.  

 9          And any repermitting, needless to say, as we 

10          discussed, should factor in USGS study 

11          results.

12                 I want to talk a little bit about 

13          dioxane also, and I thank Senator Kaminsky 

14          for bringing it up.  We are pleased that the 

15          Department of Health has approved the first 

16          use of the technology with the Suffolk County 

17          Water District.  But I'd like to remind the 

18          DEC that the highest levels of dioxane that 

19          have been identified so far are in Nassau 

20          County, and specifically in my Senate 

21          district.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

23                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  So I'm asking you, 

24          how will the funding come through, or what is 


                                                                   96

 1          the DEC's thoughts on funding?  Will it be 

 2          direct funding?  Will the DEC stay involved?  

 3          You know, as much as we'd like to know, that 

 4          what works in Suffolk County doesn't always 

 5          work in Nassau County.  So will the DEC stay 

 6          involved in what the process will be?

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, 

 8          absolutely, we will remain involved.  We are 

 9          in this with the Department of Health, side 

10          by side.  Our role would be largely on the 

11          track-down side -- what are the sources of 

12          contamination, how do we abate those sources.  

13          The Department of Health would then determine 

14          what treatment technology is needed, if there 

15          is treatment technology needed, and would run 

16          much of the funding through their funding 

17          schemes.  And they have a stake in both the 

18          Clean Water Infrastructure Act and the State 

19          Revolving Loan Fund.  

20                 But we work seamlessly on a situation 

21          like this where you have contamination that's 

22          impacting the drinking water supply.  We will 

23          absolutely remain involved in this.  This is 

24          going to become a big part of what we do as 


                                                                   97

 1          an agency, dioxane, PFCs, emerging 

 2          contaminants.  It will be a core of our 

 3          mission now for the foreseeable future.

 4                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  I'd like to just 

 5          say a competitive situation is not the 

 6          appropriate way to handle this.  It really 

 7          has to be with your expertise of identifying 

 8          the most vulnerable spots.

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Understand.  

10          Understood.

11                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  The last question I 

12          have is WaterTraq.  Due to some efforts and 

13          support by my conference, we were able to 

14          fund WaterTraq.  It is being administered by 

15          LICAP.  And I'd like to know what the DEC's 

16          thoughts are on the results.  Is there any 

17          type of additional or better utilization we 

18          should be having that's been useful?  And is 

19          there ways we can enhance it if necessary?

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator, perhaps 

21          you could talk a bit more about it.  I'm not 

22          familiar with WaterTraq.

23                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  So WaterTraq -- and 

24          we can do this as a follow-up.  WaterTraq was 


                                                                   98

 1          a system -- what we were informed of last 

 2          year, or what I was informed of last year, is 

 3          the water districts are collecting data, but 

 4          there was no way to share the different data 

 5          with each other.  So WaterTraq was a system 

 6          that again, I want to thank my conference for 

 7          helping me fund it, that we provided to all 

 8          the water districts on Long Island in order 

 9          for them to communicate.  

10                 In my understanding, the data that's 

11          coming from it really will help model, you 

12          know --

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Absolutely.  I'm 

14          sorry, I hadn't heard the name WaterTraq 

15          before, but I actually am familiar with the 

16          system you're talking about.  Stan Carey had 

17          briefed us on it, and we're in regular 

18          communication with him about this.

19                 They are doing extraordinary work, 

20          too, bringing data together.  And ultimately 

21          our goal is to fold that data into the larger 

22          USGS study, get a sense of -- which we're 

23          doing now, thanks to your help on that, we're 

24          doing to paint a picture of the flows, 


                                                                   99

 1          groundwater flow model, basically the major 

 2          groundwater flow model for all of Long 

 3          Island.  And then layer into that all that we 

 4          know about Superfund locations and the flows 

 5          from Superfund locations, and what the water 

 6          districts know.  And they probably know as 

 7          much as anybody about the conditions down 

 8          there.

 9                 So it's been enormously successful.  

10          And we're going to continue folding that 

11          information into the state's overall studies.

12                 SENATOR PHILLIPS:  Thank you.

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

15                 Assemblywoman Fahy.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.  Thank 

17          you, Madam Chair.

18                 Good to see you here, Commissioner, 

19          and your team.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good to see you 

21          as well.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  I've got just a 

23          couple of questions, but just a couple of 

24          comments in advance.  One, I really 


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 1          appreciate your comments about the states 

 2          really have to lead on so many of these 

 3          issues given what you said is a hostile 

 4          administration.  And I just want to echo your 

 5          words, because I couldn't agree more.  

 6                 I really commend you for some of the 

 7          work you're doing on water quality, which 

 8          is -- I think one of the biggest achievements 

 9          we had last year was increasing those funds, 

10          as well as the air quality -- your initiative 

11          in South End.  I live here in Albany; while 

12          that's not my district, I've been following 

13          that closely and very much appreciate your 

14          efforts to get on top of that.  As well as 

15          your proposed efforts on the food waste and 

16          the composting -- a huge issue here in 

17          Albany, where we have a landfill that is set 

18          to be done or to be out of use in five years.

19                 Along that same line, just a couple of 

20          things I'd like to urge your consideration.  

21          Earlier in this hearing the brownfields tax 

22          credits were brought up.  And I too share 

23          those concerns that Senator O'Mara raised 

24          about extending those tax credits and 


                                                                   101

 1          decoupling them from what the feds are doing.

 2                 But I think it's really important that 

 3          we maintain those, including on the big 

 4          projects, like the Tobin First Prize right 

 5          here off Route 90.

 6                 Another area I would be remiss in not 

 7          mentioning is the staffing issue that 

 8          Assemblyman Englebright brought up.  And I 

 9          hear you, and again I understand that you are 

10          under the same constraints that the rest of 

11          the state is, and so I'm pleased that 

12          staffing is remaining steady.  But I know it 

13          is a continuing issue of concern.

14                 The last one to urge your 

15          consideration of is we've had a lot of 

16          meetings on Sheridan Hollow, had some very 

17          productive meetings with the New York Power 

18          Authority, and want to make sure that you 

19          will be involved and possibly take the lead 

20          on the proposals there for what had been the 

21          microgrid but moving toward more renewable 

22          energy in that Sheridan Hollow area.

23                 So two questions.  One I think is just 

24          a brief one, and I've talked a few times to I 


                                                                   102

 1          think you and your team.  The VW settlement, 

 2          the $127 million, I know you've had lots of 

 3          proposals for that, and that's the one since 

 4          last summer I've been watching.  I personally 

 5          think if we were to give those to buses, our 

 6          public transportation buses, buses especially 

 7          in our inner cities that may go up and down a 

 8          road 20 times, electrifying -- converting 

 9          those into electric vehicles I think would go 

10          a long way.  

11                 Can you tell us -- you mentioned it in 

12          your testimony -- can you tell us what the 

13          timing will be there and if you are 

14          considering public transit?  And then I have 

15          one other quick question.

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  

17          Timing-wise, we started early on public 

18          outreach.  Some states waited until the 

19          special master triggered the program; we 

20          started actually last summer on this.  So 

21          we've gotten enormous feedback.  Buses are 

22          absolutely in our sights.  I mean, there are 

23          a number of authorities statewide, from MTA, 

24          CDTA, Niagara Frontier, and everything in 


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 1          between.  Many of them, if not all of them, 

 2          want to modernize their fleets.  We want to 

 3          support that.  And I want to make sure that 

 4          the $127 million that we have here is going 

 5          to go out to truly transformational projects 

 6          to reduce the burden of emissions, 

 7          particularly in urban neighborhoods -- that's 

 8          where you see a lot of these buses -- to 

 9          reduce NOx emissions in urban neighborhoods.  

10                 And I want to see us do what we can to 

11          leverage those dollars, right, using, you 

12          know, Green Bank, other sources of funding 

13          that we have at the state level, make that 

14          money go farther.

15                 So the timing on it, again, because we 

16          started early, I expect that within the next 

17          couple of months we will be able to make some 

18          announcements on that.  We're not done with 

19          the work and the analysis yet, but I'm 

20          optimistic that this will be done fairly 

21          shortly.

22                 There's a 10-year spend-out on the 

23          money.  My view of it is I want to see the 

24          money applied as aggressively as possible 


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 1          up-front to make the biggest change possible 

 2          up-front.  But if there are ways in which to 

 3          leverage more dollars by stretching it out 

 4          over time, that's also a conversation we have 

 5          to have.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Okay, thank you.  

 7          And thanks for your consideration on public 

 8          transit.  I think it will go a long way.  

 9                 Last quick question, plastic bags.  I 

10          saw the report and the stat that jumped out 

11          for me is that just in New York State, that 

12          we are using 23 billion plastic bags, 

13          single-use plastic bags each year.  It's 

14          rather stunning to me.  I do think we need 

15          change here.  

16                 I know you did the report, I know 

17          Chairman Englebright does have a proposal at 

18          this point.  Can you talk about next steps 

19          and where we are going?  I know you put a few 

20          options on the table, but I'm worried we're 

21          not being aggressive enough.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So I want to 

23          thank the task force members, including 

24          Assemblyman Englebright and Senator O'Mara 


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 1          for their work over the year.  We produced an 

 2          87-page report which detailed really seven 

 3          options.  I wouldn't count the eighth option, 

 4          which is a no-action option, as a real 

 5          option.

 6                 Everyone on the committee, on this 

 7          task force, was in alignment that something 

 8          needed to be done.  The Governor sent the 

 9          message last year that there's 23 billion 

10          bags, most of them end up in landfills or 

11          waterways or streets.  You know, you've all 

12          seen the bag blowing around on the street 

13          scape.  Something has to be done about it.  I 

14          think people are making decisions already on 

15          their own, but it clearly isn't making enough 

16          of a difference.  

17                 So the options that we explored range 

18          from bans to fees all the way to education.  

19          To fix the problem, something will need to be 

20          done across the board.  We'll need to bring 

21          in all the potential solutions involving 

22          customer awareness as well as looking at bans 

23          and fees.

24                 But the report was meant to be 


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 1          objective.  We didn't achieve consensus 

 2          within the task force as to what path should 

 3          be achieved and what particular 

 4          recommendations should be sent up, so the 

 5          report was objective on its face.  And I 

 6          think it will be helpful on its face, because 

 7          it was exhaustive.  I give my staff an 

 8          enormous amount of credit for plowing through 

 9          dozens and dozens of instances around the 

10          world where various solutions have been put 

11          in place.  And I think we've, you know, 

12          delivered that to both the Governor and the 

13          Legislature for their consideration.  I know 

14          that Senator Krueger has introduced 

15          something, and we certainly look forward to 

16          working with Senator Krueger and Assemblyman 

17          Englebright to address the problem.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you.  Thank 

19          you, Madam Chair.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                 Senate?

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Brooks.

23                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Thank you.  

24                 Commissioner, it's good to see you 


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 1          again.

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Likewise.

 3                 SENATOR BROOKS:  The Bethpage plume, a 

 4          couple of questions.  I wonder if you can 

 5          give us an update of where we stand on that, 

 6          the timeline of where we're at, and how we're 

 7          doing as far as the construction of the 

 8          pumping wells, how you feel about the 

 9          funding, what cooperation or lack of 

10          cooperation are we getting from Grumman 

11          itself.  And then finally, are we still 

12          confident that we can contain the plume where 

13          it is now and remediate the area?  

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, on that 

15          last point, thanks to some great work by some 

16          staff on my team and really solid scientific 

17          engineering consultancy from one of our 

18          outfits on the outside, I think for the first 

19          time we believe that containing the plume is 

20          feasible.  

21                 We were in the county last year down 

22          in Bethpage near Massapequa, drilling some of 

23          the first wells.  All of that data that we 

24          generated from the wells we drilled last 


                                                                   108

 1          year, we put together into a model which 

 2          shows that containment is possible.  I think 

 3          many, many years ago people didn't think we'd 

 4          be able to contain a plume as big as, you 

 5          know, four miles by two miles.  But I think 

 6          what we're seeing now is it's scientifically 

 7          possible.  So the next question is how do we 

 8          do it.

 9                 That's what we're in the middle of 

10          right now.  So we have, you know, a very 

11          complicated landscape, literally.  I mean, 

12          hundreds and hundreds of homes, not much open 

13          space, enormous groundwater questions in the 

14          entire island that we need to integrate our 

15          understanding of how the water is flowing 

16          through that area with the objective of 

17          keeping saltwater from intruding into the 

18          water table.

19                 It's a very delicate balance.  But 

20          again, we think that it is possible now to do 

21          that.

22                 We have been talking with -- and the 

23          governor's certainly set the tone on this.  

24          We've been talking with the water districts, 


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 1          we have been talking with the polluters 

 2          themselves, that's Grumman and the Navy.  I 

 3          would say, to one of your questions, that we 

 4          are getting responses to questions.  I don't 

 5          believe we have perfect fidelity on where we 

 6          need them to be on stepping up.  

 7                 But what the Governor has made clear 

 8          is that the state will step up when the 

 9          polluters refuse to.  In this instance, our 

10          objective is to enhance the treatment of the 

11          plume, contain it, and turn around a water 

12          table that's cleaner for the next generation.  

13                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Okay.  So the -- when 

14          we spoke, at least I was left with the 

15          impression that we were absolutely confident 

16          we could contain that.  And in your response, 

17          I think it's probable.  Where are we?

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I think we can 

19          do it.  I think we can do it.  And we will be 

20          sinking wells this year on that.  The 

21          Governor laid that out in his pre-State of 

22          the State trip that we did down to Bethpage, 

23          and made it clear that we're on an aggressive 

24          path to begin putting wells into the ground 


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 1          to enhance that treatment, to enhance the 

 2          containment possibility.  

 3                 So I think we're optimistic as an 

 4          agency.  And I think the only real question 

 5          is going to be who we get to pay for it and 

 6          when.  But we're going to push the project 

 7          forward and ensure that ultimately the 

 8          polluters are on the hook for it.

 9                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Okay.  So right now 

10          you are confident, regardless of what you 

11          need from a funding standpoint, that's going 

12          to be available.

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Correct.  I am.

14                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Okay.  Thank you.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

17                 Assemblyman Stec.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Thank you, 

19          Chairwoman.  

20                 Commissioner, thanks for coming here 

21          today for your testimony.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, sir.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  I'd also like to 

24          take this opportunity to thank you and the 


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 1          DEC for all you do across the state on so 

 2          many issues that are important.  And in 

 3          particular, you and your staff for the great 

 4          legislative work that we've done together 

 5          with local government and environmental 

 6          groups over the past several years, 

 7          including -- not limited to -- a few 

 8          constitutional amendments.

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.

10                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  That's 

11          three.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  With that, though, 

13          I want to make sure we continue to work 

14          together in this collaborative method moving 

15          forward.  I think that a lot of the issues 

16          that we face are going to be best dealt with 

17          with local government and environmental 

18          groups and stakeholders in general all on the 

19          same page.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Agreed.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  And there's a 

22          couple of things in the budget that concern 

23          me a little bit about rocking that boat or 

24          damaging or taking a step back from the 


                                                                   112

 1          forward progress that we're making -- and two 

 2          in particular that I'll ask together, because 

 3          they really go to the heart of keeping local 

 4          government whole financially, from a fiscal 

 5          standpoint.  

 6                 One certainly is the PILOT.  Local 

 7          governments and environmental groups 

 8          essentially all are gravely concerned with 

 9          this, and I guess my question would be, you 

10          know, where does DEC stand on this?  Do you 

11          see value in this, knowing that local 

12          government has veto over future land 

13          purchases in the Adirondacks and the 

14          Catskills?  And, you know, is this really 

15          building on that good faith and collaborative 

16          successes that we've had?  

17                 And related to the PILOT, I know 

18          Assemblywoman Woerner brought up 480-a and 

19          480-b.  And I'm curious -- I'm not sure I 

20          heard the answer to this question and your 

21          response to her, but the cost to local 

22          government and is that going to be addressed 

23          and taken care of?  Because I know that local 

24          government is very concerned about that.  


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 1                 And I think the good news here is that 

 2          we're talking about a relatively small 

 3          financial impact to the state.  But these 

 4          are -- you know, there's a state value to 

 5          this program.  And so, you know, I think the 

 6          local government perspective in the 

 7          Adirondacks is the state and not local 

 8          government should be the one to bear the 

 9          costs of that.  

10                 So those two things for starters, 

11          please.  

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Well, on 

13          the PILOT, this is a proposal of Tax & 

14          Finance to change the way in which 

15          assessments are made from year to year on 

16          state-owned lands.  And I've been assured 

17          that the proposal itself will not change the 

18          amount of money that's going from the state 

19          into local government.  I know this is an 

20          efficiency initiative at Tax & Finance.  It's 

21          very important for the state, obviously, to 

22          remain more efficient and to spend less time 

23          on staff time, more time actually, you know, 

24          implementing programs.


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 1                 So I've been assured -- certainly have 

 2          seen the concerns raised directly to me and 

 3          in the papers, and I know that the budget 

 4          director has indicated certainly with this 

 5          program a willingness to ensure that it 

 6          doesn't have unintended consequences, and DEC 

 7          will be at the table for those discussions.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  And 480-a and -b?  

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  480-a and -b, 

10          the program itself that we're proposing 

11          wouldn't take effect until next year.  So the 

12          impacts to local government wouldn't take 

13          effect until next year and beyond.

14                 But what we're setting up through this 

15          program is a commitment to effectively keep 

16          municipalities whole on this.  We would do 

17          that through our budget, ways in which we'd 

18          have to work that out, you know, with the 

19          Legislature next year and ultimately work it 

20          out through the Executive Budget next year.  

21          But the impacts would not be felt until 

22          2019 and beyond.

23                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  And the 

24          proposal includes a reimbursement formula 


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 1          that would be -- we're proposing to codify 

 2          that in the State Finance Law for how that 

 3          would work for municipalities impacted by 

 4          1 percent or more.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Well, again, I 

 6          would just reiterate, on behalf of the 

 7          hundred-some-odd local governments in the 

 8          Adirondacks, I think to a town there's grave 

 9          concern over what these formulas may or may 

10          not look like and whether or not they will or 

11          will not be stuck to going forward.  Which is 

12          why you're getting the calls and letters and 

13          emails from local governments about these two 

14          programs.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Sure.  Sure.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  The other question 

17          that I wanted to ask I think really goes -- 

18          I'll build off what Chairman Englebright 

19          brought up, is, you know, in my words, 

20          getting the funding out the door.  Or is 

21          there a mismatch between the amount of work 

22          you're being asked to do and the funding and 

23          staffing that is available to you?  

24                 And specifically, ranger staffing is 


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 1          always a question, especially as we acquire 

 2          more lands.  And then infrastructure, the 

 3          maintenance of effort from an infrastructure 

 4          standpoint, specifically on our lakes, the 

 5          properties that -- the boat launches that DEC 

 6          owns and maintains on the various lakes, 

 7          including Lake George and Lake Champlain, and 

 8          one specific one that I'm going to make an 

 9          appeal for -- this is making me go on for far 

10          too long -- but there's a boat launch in 

11          Saranac Lake that has a bathroom that really 

12          could use a little TLC.

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  You know, and 

15          there's some lingering issues with the State 

16          Land Master Plan update, the numerous unit 

17          management plans that have been kicking 

18          around in dire need of updates going back 

19          years.  There's a backlog of UMP work that's 

20          holding up good work that everyone wants to 

21          do, they recognize it.  But the paper trail 

22          hasn't caught up, and there's no end in sight 

23          as to how quickly that paper trail will catch 

24          up.


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 1                 And along those lines, the last part 

 2          of this, you know, is the SEQR process, a lot 

 3          of complaints over just the burdensome nature 

 4          of the SEQR process.  And has anything been 

 5          done, I guess, on SEQR, SLMP and UMPs to put 

 6          those resources there so that we can catch up 

 7          and, you know, update our SEQR and certainly 

 8          our UMPs?

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay, there's a 

10          lot in there.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  I only have five 

12          minutes.  

13                 (Laughter.)

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Let me see if I 

15          can do it quickly.  

16                 So infrastructure, NY Works has been 

17          in effect since 2011.  And we had a big boost 

18          last year in NY Works, which the Governor set 

19          forth his Adventure NY.  We mixed that up 

20          with some of the stewardship monies in the 

21          EPF and have launched an initiative to 

22          restore some of our infrastructure.  

23                 I will agree with you that there are 

24          many locations around the state, DEC 


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 1          facilities -- the same thing happened with 

 2          Parks facilities -- where there was literally 

 3          decades of neglect.  And when we came in six, 

 4          seven years ago, we found that we had a real 

 5          infrastructure burden.  We've been slowly 

 6          chipping away at that.  There are some 

 7          locations around the state, unlike Saranac 

 8          boat launch and the restroom there --

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Don't forget that 

10          one.  Saranac Lake and the bathroom.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That's now 

12          seared in my memory.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Because the 

14          Governor uses that bathroom.

15                 (Laughter.)

16                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  All right.  

17          That's all you had to say.  That's all you 

18          say.

19                 (Laughter.)

20                 UNIDENTIFIED MALE PANELIST:  I'm not 

21          going to ask you how you know that.  

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  I know these 

23          things.  I have my ways.  We'll leave it at 

24          that.


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 1                 (Laughter.)

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So we have 

 3          developed a master list.  I brought on 

 4          somebody to specifically do these projects -- 

 5          basically to hone our list, prioritize it, 

 6          and begin spending that money accordingly.  

 7          So that the first year of Adventure NY was 

 8          designed to do that.  

 9                 We're continuing that this year and 

10          we're continuing it for the foreseeable 

11          future.  We're seeing record tourism now in 

12          the Adirondacks and Catskills.  We want to 

13          see people come and want to come back, and 

14          part of it is giving them a good experience 

15          when they're there.  So key to that is 

16          infrastructure.

17                 So you have my commitment to look at 

18          the Saranac Lake bathrooms and certainly push 

19          forth the Adventure NY package.

20                 Ranger levels, we hear certainly quite 

21          a bit about that.  You know, our Rangers have 

22          done, since I've been in state government and 

23          many, many years prior to that, they do 

24          incredible work.  I know you have a personal 


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 1          connection to the Ranger force.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Yes.  Yes, I do.

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I can't say 

 4          enough about what they do.  And since I've 

 5          been in office, I have made it my priority to 

 6          give them everything that they need, both the 

 7          Rangers and the Environmental Conservation 

 8          Officers.  They're on the front lines doing 

 9          some of the most heroic and dangerous work.  

10                 And so I think there's a couple of 

11          things.  We just graduated the second class, 

12          back-to-back classes.  That hasn't happened 

13          probably in 10 or 15 years that we've had 

14          back-to-back classes.  There was a large cut 

15          in force, the rangers and ECOs, back in the 

16          mid-to-late 2000s.  So we're starting to 

17          restore those numbers.  Actually, our ranger 

18          numbers are at the highest level in a couple 

19          of decades.  So we're starting to rebuild 

20          that force.  Same thing on the ECO side.

21                 Record tourism.  We get that people 

22          are going more intensively to some of these 

23          corridors, like the Route 73 corridor.  It's 

24          triggering more rescues.  We have an 


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 1          obligation to spread the traffic out of it, 

 2          there's some benefits to that so you're not 

 3          impacting the resources as much where it is, 

 4          you're putting people into other areas of the 

 5          park.  It also helps the hamlets in the 

 6          communities that need that benefit.  And 

 7          using our partners out there to do some of 

 8          the maintenance work and keep our rangers and 

 9          ECOs focused on their core mission.

10                 So I certainly have a commitment to 

11          working with both forces to ensure they have 

12          the right numbers, get the next academy going 

13          when we can, and continue rebuilding the 

14          force.

15                 UMPs, completely agree with you.  

16          There's UMPs that have been sitting on 

17          shelves for years.  We started to look into 

18          those under my predecessor, Commissioner 

19          Martens, have begun to do that in earnest 

20          over the last few years as well.  Going to 

21          put those UMPs into action, because there are 

22          real needs in communities, and find ways in 

23          which to turn around projects more quickly.

24                 Several of the big projects that we're 


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 1          doing up in the Adirondacks right now are 

 2          gaining lots of attention.  All of that 

 3          relies on being able to look at UMPs and do 

 4          quick turnaround on UMPs and working with APA 

 5          on SLMP issues.  

 6                 So I don't know if I got everything in 

 7          there.  SEQR, obviously we've done SEQR 

 8          amendments, attempting to streamline SEQR 

 9          through collaborative outreach.  And that 

10          obviously is its own beast, but we've made 

11          some progress on that, and we'll be getting 

12          out final regs shortly.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Thanks, 

14          Commissioner.  Thanks, all.

15                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Krueger.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.  Is it still 

18          morning?  I think so.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Nope.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  No, good afternoon.

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Good afternoon.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good afternoon.

23                 So many questions.  So you already 

24          answered one of my questions about plastic 


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 1          bags with Pat Fahy.  But I just want to 

 2          highlight how important it would be for the 

 3          Governor to pick a proposal, any proposal -- 

 4          yes, perhaps the bill Assemblymember 

 5          Englebright and I introduced yesterday, or 

 6          something else.  But we need to either come 

 7          up with a statewide plan or make it clear the 

 8          localities can go forward -- specifically, 

 9          New York City, who we stopped from going 

10          forward and said we'll come up with a 

11          statewide plan.

12                 So the report was very helpful, but we 

13          have to actually operationalize somehow.  And 

14          I think leadership from the Governor's office 

15          would make a huge difference in helping us 

16          move forward down one of the roads.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Understood.  

18          I'll pass it along.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

20                 We're behind what New Jersey is 

21          announcing it's planning on doing with 

22          offshore wind targets.  Can we realistically 

23          move up our agenda?

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I would 


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 1          say that we're actually way ahead of 

 2          New Jersey on this.  We started this process 

 3          several years ago to -- this is -- again, I'm 

 4          going to refer you to NYSERDA to answer much 

 5          of this, because they have the most expertise 

 6          on it.  

 7                 But we started this process with 

 8          offshore wind when I was in the chamber, so 

 9          2012-2013, starting the process of 

10          characterizing our offshore wind assets, the 

11          sensitive resources, you know, working with 

12          the federal government to determine what 

13          areas were appropriate for offshore wind.  

14                 The Governor put in a very aggressive 

15          commitment this year.  We intend to honor 

16          that commitment over the next two years -- 

17          800 megawatts, I believe it is.  You may have 

18          to get some of the clarification from NYSERDA 

19          on this.  But we very much see offshore wind 

20          as a huge part of certainly our downstate, 

21          statewide energy picture over the coming 

22          years.  

23                 And that's in part why we've been so 

24          vocal in our opposition to offshore oil 


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 1          drilling, based on some of the concerns in 

 2          compatibility with those two programs.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So, you know, I will 

 4          follow up with NYSERDA.  Thank you.

 5                 And you talked about this partly, but 

 6          if the EPF and the federal government 

 7          dramatically reduce the monies that we are 

 8          receiving from them going through your 

 9          agency, I think particularly around staffing 

10          patterns, what are we cutting to make sure 

11          that we still have the staff to do your 

12          primary functions?

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, listen, 

14          I'm not going to mince words.  I'm very 

15          concerned about what the EPA is proposing.  

16          We have a potential 23 percent cut to federal 

17          budgets to an agency that we rely on here in 

18          New York.  

19                 It's not just that DEC relies on the 

20          EPA, it's that the state itself relies on the 

21          EPA.  We have, you know, years, decades of 

22          programs that the EPA has carried out 

23          directly in New York State with their own 

24          employees doing their own very important 


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 1          work.  And we've been working very closely 

 2          with them over that period.  We have not seen 

 3          a proposed cut like this, with the likelihood 

 4          of success, frankly ever -- at least not in 

 5          my lifetime.  

 6                 So we're very, very concerned about 

 7          what's happening at the federal level.  I 

 8          know that the Congressional delegation that 

 9          we're working with is also very concerned.  I 

10          mean, they're talking about lining out 

11          certain programs like the Great Lakes 

12          Restoration Initiative or Long Island Sound.  

13          I mean, it's sort of an all-out assault on 

14          that budget.

15                 We also get money directly from the 

16          EPA at DEC.  We get EPA money at DEC for the 

17          implementation, the carrying out of federal 

18          environmental laws -- Clean Air Act, Clean 

19          Water Act, and certain other programs.  So 

20          the prospect of a cut is concerning to us for 

21          very obvious reasons, because that would have 

22          a ripple effect on our staffing.  

23                 You know, thankfully the Governor is 

24          pushing back against the overall budget, but 


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 1          certainly on the cuts to the EPA, he's put 

 2          out some statements about that.  And I intend 

 3          to spend some of my time this spring down in 

 4          D.C. ensuring that our federal partners 

 5          understand that cuts from the EPA will be 

 6          real problems here in New York.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  But what is our Plan 

 8          B in our state budget if --

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, Plan B is 

10          to fight back.  And Plan A is the Governor 

11          has given us a good budget this year.  Right?  

12          We have a -- in spite of a very significant 

13          $4.4 billion deficit, the Governor has held 

14          DEC to a constant staffing level.  He's 

15          actually increased some of our resources over 

16          the last two years through the EPF, through 

17          the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, 

18          continuation of the State Superfund.  And 

19          we've been given resources now to carry out 

20          programs and do things that we were never 

21          able to do as an agency.

22                 So I think as a starting point, we're 

23          in very good shape.  Plan B is to fight back.  

24          Plan C is I'll talk to you later, we'll 


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 1          figure out what happens if the federal 

 2          government actually reaches this cut.  

 3                 I will be honest with you, I am 

 4          optimistic that wisdom will prevail on a 

 5          potential cut to the EPA.  I don't believe 

 6          it's going to happen because so many people 

 7          now recognize that the EPA is doing real work 

 8          that translates into jobs, real economic 

 9          activity, and protection of natural 

10          resources.  So hopefully we won't have to 

11          have that Plan C conversation.  But we're 

12          going to spend an enormous amount of work 

13          pushing back on a bad idea.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  My time is up.  But 

15          can you estimate, if you did get the 

16          23 percent cut from the EPA, what percentage 

17          of your staff would be cut?  

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I don't know if 

19          I can give you a specific number, but it 

20          would be in the dozens at least.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Assemblyman Otis.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you, 

24          Commissioner.  I wanted to thank you and DEC 


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 1          and EFC for the great work on the Water 

 2          Infrastructure Improvement Act and talk a 

 3          little about some of the dynamics of that 

 4          going forward.  But the implementation has 

 5          been great.  In the three years of the 

 6          Municipal Water Grant Program, there have 

 7          been 300 different communities have gotten 

 8          funding, amounting to over $500 million, 

 9          which is huge.  

10                 The need -- and I thank you and the 

11          Governor for staying steadfast in this budget 

12          with the program.  The need is enormous.  One 

13          of the great advocates for the program in the 

14          Hudson Valley has been the Construction 

15          Industry Council of Westchester and the 

16          Hudson River area.  And they have done 

17          reports along the way tracking the need.  

18                 And so their estimate -- and they have 

19          submitted written testimony for this hearing 

20          today -- their estimate going forward in that 

21          the need in the Hudson Valley is going to be 

22          somewhere above $640 million in new projects 

23          in the next five years.  And I would estimate 

24          that that number is probably low, because 


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 1          there are a number of communities that 

 2          haven't really done up the engineering to 

 3          know where they need to go.

 4                 So the program is going to be with us 

 5          at least until 2022, and that represents what 

 6          a great commitment this has been.  But I'm 

 7          interested in your thoughts about what you're 

 8          hearing on the demand side statewide.  And 

 9          just asking you to keep with it, and thank 

10          you for that, but also to look for 

11          opportunities to even continue to grow this 

12          in future years even beyond the big numbers 

13          that we have now.  It's been -- one of the 

14          big successes of it has also been that many 

15          communities that weren't doing their water 

16          projects at all, because of the grants, now 

17          with the revolving loan fund piece, can come 

18          and do both.  And we've seen a lot of new 

19          communities come and do projects that were 

20          not in the game at all.

21                 So your comments on those questions.  

22          But thank you and thank EFC and everybody at 

23          the staff level, both agencies.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  And thank you 


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 1          for your advocacy on this.  I mean, it's been 

 2          great to work with you on this over the last 

 3          few years.

 4                 Without a doubt, we've changed the 

 5          playing field in the last three years, 

 6          between the Water Infrastructure Improvement 

 7          Act and the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.  

 8          Those two, transformational.  I mean, call 

 9          them generationally transformational, because 

10          they are.  It's not just the dollars that 

11          we're putting into those programs, it's their 

12          ability to leverage other dollars.  

13                 So you mentioned the $500 million that 

14          we've spent in three years.  That's actually 

15          leveraged over $2 billion in projects.  

16          That's a significant number.  We've all heard 

17          the statewide estimate.  I think you put a 

18          lot of stock in the exact nature of it, 

19          because it is such a large number.  But it is 

20          a big number, multiple billion dollars, 

21          30-some-billion dollars of need.  

22                 I think we all agree that there's that 

23          need.  But what we're finding now is that 

24          these programs are working very well, we're 


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 1          spending the money, we're getting the money 

 2          out the door very quickly.  The interest in 

 3          the programs is extraordinary.  And now the 

 4          interest, as you mentioned, in the Clean 

 5          Water Revolving Fund.  Whereas we set much of 

 6          that money aside for lack of interest over 

 7          many, many years, now the grant program is 

 8          encouraging people to go and take those low- 

 9          or no-interest loans.  So that helps us do 

10          that leveraging that we were never able to do 

11          in the past.  It makes the programs more 

12          attractive.  And I credit all of you, 

13          frankly, for pushing that through last year, 

14          the Clean Water Infrastructure Act.  It will 

15          be with us through 2022, as you mentioned.  

16          And it gives us a chance to begin addressing 

17          that backlog.

18                 The problem with it all is 

19          obviously -- you start back in the '70s when 

20          the federal government put a huge chunk of 

21          money, grant money, in for the construction 

22          of these plants.  Then they walked away, and 

23          it became a maintenance issue for the towns 

24          to keep up with the need.  And it was always 


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 1          difficult for towns to, in some cases, take 

 2          these loans out, the municipalities, because 

 3          the rates were high or they just couldn't 

 4          afford it in their bottom lines.  

 5                 I think we're starting to change that.  

 6          We're starting to see the implications of 

 7          maintaining drinking water, clean water in 

 8          the right way, in the sense that it protects 

 9          things like tourism assets, Niagara Falls 

10          being a perfect example of that where you had 

11          disinvestment for many years and the state 

12          now having to step in and fix the problem, to 

13          protect a -- not just aquatic resources, but 

14          a real tourism economy.

15                 So we're making good efforts, I think, 

16          on that.  And I think, you know, the great 

17          Ross Pepe and the work that they're doing in 

18          the Hudson Valley -- you know, we work very 

19          closely with them and rely on their input as 

20          well as many other advocates within the state 

21          to ensure that there's a -- spending is going 

22          on, the public understands what we're doing, 

23          it's not just the visible infrastructure, 

24          it's critical infrastructure.  


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 1                 And by the way, we'll be taking that 

 2          message to the federal government, because we 

 3          need to protect the Clean Water and Drinking 

 4          Water Revolving Funds for the foreseeable 

 5          future.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Well, thank you for 

 7          the good work.  And I represent the Long 

 8          Island Sound portion of Westchester County, 

 9          those communities are using the program and 

10          getting projects done.  So thank you very 

11          much.

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Great.  Thank 

13          you.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Betty Little.

15                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Thank you.  

16                 And thank you, Commissioner, and also 

17          thank your staff and everyone under your 

18          leadership who works very well with us in the 

19          Legislature, I believe.  So I thank you very 

20          much for all your efforts.

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, 

22          Senator.

23                 SENATOR LITTLE:  A couple of things.  

24          Invasive species has been a program I've 


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 1          worked on since I got here, because of all 

 2          the lakes in the Adirondacks and the 

 3          North Country.  I think we've made great 

 4          progress on the preventative side and put a 

 5          lot of money into that, with both washing 

 6          stations and the brochures and education 

 7          programs.  Very, very important.  

 8                 But on actual eradication, we still 

 9          have a lot of lakes that need help in getting 

10          their eradication programs going.  Even if 

11          it's a partial participation, at one time 

12          they could apply for funding, a municipality 

13          or a lake association, and get some help to 

14          remove the milfoil or the zebra mussels or 

15          whatever they had.  And I know that -- I just 

16          want to bring to your attention and see if 

17          there's anything that we're going to be doing 

18          with that this year.  

19                 And before I leave invasives, of  the 

20          12 lakes, two are in my district, Lake George 

21          and Lake Champlain.  And I think what we do 

22          learn on these 12 lakes are going to benefit 

23          all the other lakes, and there's thousands in 

24          New York State.  


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 1                 But it's more than just the HABs.  And 

 2          I went out to the announcement, and I 

 3          understand that even invasive stormwater 

 4          runoff, anything that's going to affect the 

 5          water quality, is something that's going to 

 6          be looked at.  Is that correct?

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That's correct.

 8                 Every waterway will have different 

 9          problems associated with it, some of which 

10          trigger HABs.  So that's why you really need 

11          an all-in approach.  And it's almost a 

12          no-regrets approach, right?  If you're 

13          controlling a stormwater problem that maybe 

14          the source of or the trigger for HABs, well, 

15          you're fixing a stormwater problem.  Or if 

16          it's spending money on a berm at a farm, 

17          that's good news no matter what.  

18                 We need to ensure that we're matching 

19          up the science with what we understand about 

20          HABs, and it's all -- it's, again, different 

21          on every lake.  And sometimes we don't 

22          entirely understand up-front what's causing 

23          them.  But our intent is to go out there and 

24          put money towards projects that make sense 


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 1          from a water quality perspective.  We want to 

 2          tie it as closely as possible to HABs, 

 3          because we want to stop the HABs, but 

 4          investments in watershed protection pay off 

 5          for many, many reasons, and we intend to keep 

 6          that program going aggressively.

 7                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Okay.  And are we 

 8          going to do anything with the money for 

 9          invasives for eradication, maybe for local 

10          governments and lakes associations again?  

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So I have always 

12          been sympathetic to the request for 

13          eradication money.  I mean, in a perfect 

14          universe, the best money is spent on 

15          prevention because it becomes much more 

16          expensive after the fact.  But when you have 

17          a waterway that's been impacted, you have to 

18          do something about it.  

19                 So I am sympathetic to it.  And I 

20          think last year we had a conversation about 

21          this.  And I can get back to you with the 

22          exact monies that we may have spent towards 

23          eradication, unless Julie has that on hand.  

24          But I'm comfortable pushing, you know, a 


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 1          balance of money towards eradication efforts 

 2          while keeping the prevention monies whole.

 3                 I know we've done some great work this 

 4          year, there's now a boost in the EPF to help 

 5          put the boat washing detection station with 

 6          the DOT, and that should make a big 

 7          difference to the Adirondacks.

 8                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Absolutely.

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thanks for your 

10          work on that.

11                 SENATOR LITTLE:  And I'm looking 

12          forward to all that and working on the lake 

13          initiative.  

14                 And the Forest Rangers were 

15          mentioned -- or forest products.  But I can't 

16          mention forests without talking about the 

17          Forest Rangers and thanking them for their 

18          extraordinary work, as well as your 

19          Environmental Conservation people in the 

20          Adirondacks.  They've had some huge searches 

21          this year -- overnight searches, cold, nasty 

22          conditions -- and been very, very effective.  

23          So thank them.

24                 One of the things -- you know, the 


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 1          480-a program was something that in 2004 I 

 2          was finally able to get some money for the 

 3          local governments.  And for those who don't 

 4          understand, when you put your land in this 

 5          program, you get a reduction in assessment.  

 6          But therefore the local municipality loses 

 7          some of their land and tax value.

 8                 So this -- we did get that money, and 

 9          it did go into the AIM eventually, although 

10          there's still a separate one for schools.

11                 But that's my major concern about this 

12          one, is how we work the money to the local 

13          governments.  And I know you went from 

14          80 percent to 70 percent, I assume it's to do 

15          less money, make it less costly.  But on the 

16          25-acre, I assume you're going to get a lot 

17          more participants.  And the only question 

18          is -- two things there.  You call for 

19          certified foresters.  Is that going to lead 

20          to licensing of foresters, or how are you 

21          doing that?

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  The certified 

23          foresters, we would seek to incentivize the 

24          program and ensure that the cuts being done 


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 1          were being done in a sustainable manner.  The 

 2          monies that -- some of the money we'd be 

 3          making available would go towards helping 

 4          landowners with the certifications of the 

 5          groups of landowners, that they effectively 

 6          would be able to benefit from pooling 

 7          resources on this.

 8                 But that's the objective.  We want to 

 9          ensure that the cuts are being done 

10          sustainably.  I have no doubt that the 

11          program itself will increase.  Because of the 

12          changes to the law, there will be more 

13          interest in it.  The fact that we have a mix 

14          of both forest and open space as well will be 

15          attractive.  And I think the work of the 

16          forest products industry to advise us on this 

17          to this point shows us that there's some real 

18          need and the chance to turn around some real 

19          benefits for the state as a whole.  

20                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Yeah.  And the only 

21          other question was the DEC approval of any 

22          plan, timbering plan.  Some of them are down 

23          to 10 acres, 25 acres.  Do you have enough 

24          staff for doing all of that?  


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 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We certainly 

 2          have enough staff to carry out the program, 

 3          there's no question about it.  And --

 4                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Is it going to take 

 5          time to get those approvals or -- there's 

 6          some concern from those involved.

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We certainly 

 8          want to run a program that is not burdensome 

 9          to the landowner.  We're proposing something 

10          because we think it will generate interest in 

11          it, and it will generate real benefits for 

12          the state.  And we wouldn't be putting it 

13          forward if we didn't think we could carry it 

14          out.  

15                 This is going to be an important 

16          aspect of the overall forestry picture in 

17          New York State, given how much land is now in 

18          private hands and given how the current 

19          program has not fulfilled all the 

20          expectations, perhaps, that we would have 

21          wanted 10 or 15 years ago.  

22                 But from a staffing perspective, you 

23          know, we're ready to carry this out.  It's 

24          going to take effect next year.  But we've 


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 1          been in the planning phase of this, frankly, 

 2          for three years.

 3                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Is the approval just 

 4          an approval to make them eligible to get into 

 5          the program, or is it for everything going 

 6          forward?

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Want to say 

 8          something about the approval process?  

 9                 ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  So we 

10          have two new programs that we're proposing.  

11          One is the certification.  That's the 

12          70 percent that you reference.  In those 

13          cases, right now we don't have the ability to 

14          just, okay, you're certified by, say, SFI or 

15          FSE, and okay, you've checked the box, we're 

16          going to give you this credit for that.  

17          Under this new construct, that's what we're 

18          proposing, that if you have one of those 

19          approved -- and it's not limited to those 

20          two, but it's whatever is approved and set 

21          forth in regulations, then those would meet 

22          that.  

23                 So -- and we're anticipating that 

24          right now, this would be more of those larger 


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 1          owners -- your Lyme Timber, your Finch Pruyn, 

 2          your International Paper.  Those kind of 

 3          landowners are already certified, or many of 

 4          them are -- DEC-certified, by the way.

 5                 SENATOR LITTLE:  It's the smaller 

 6          landowners that we're hearing from.

 7                 DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TIGHE:  Yeah.  And 

 8          we've left open the opportunity for them to 

 9          do group certification, which doesn't exist 

10          right now but we think that this could help 

11          create that.

12                 Secondly, there's a program that would 

13          allow for a forest management program to come 

14          in.  That's actually a 40 percent reduction 

15          in taxes, as opposed to the 70 percent, 

16          recognizing that there would be less 

17          obligations on the landowner.  Some of it 

18          would be, you know, forest timber harvests; 

19          others could be different types of activities 

20          related to wetlands restoration or invasive 

21          species management that has to be done on at 

22          least 10 acres of land.  

23                 And we are trying to do that in a way 

24          that's more streamlined than the current 


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 1          480-a program.  And as a result of this, the 

 2          objective of the Division of Lands and 

 3          Forests is to spend less time on paperwork 

 4          and more time out in the field working with 

 5          the landowners to make sure that those 

 6          forests are being managed sustainably.

 7                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Right.  My only 

 8          concern is I wouldn't want to see, where they 

 9          have to have this DEC approval, a long 

10          waiting period and losing a whole season 

11          because of the waiting period.

12                 But I look forward to working with you 

13          on it.

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Us too.

15                 SENATOR LITTLE:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

19                 Assemblyman Thiele.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Thank you.  

21                 And first let me just thank you, 

22          Commissioner, for your access and your 

23          commitment to your job as commissioner of 

24          environmental conservation.  Greatly 


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 1          appreciate the outreach that you've had with 

 2          the Legislature.

 3                 You know, in fact on Saturday night 

 4          I'm in the movies with my wife, and I get a 

 5          text from Julie on something that I had asked 

 6          her about earlier in the week, and I had to 

 7          explain for a minute why I was getting a text 

 8          from a woman named Julie on a Saturday night.

 9                 (Laughter.)

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  But I showed her 

11          the text.  

12                 (Laughter.)

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  And Commissioner, 

14          I appreciate you coming out to eastern 

15          Long Island.  Senator LaValle and I both 

16          appreciate you coming out to meet with our 

17          commercial fishermen.  We have two of the 

18          largest commercial fishing ports in the 

19          state.  And your attention to that issue has 

20          been, you know, much appreciated across the 

21          East End of Long Island.  

22                 And that really gets to my first 

23          question.  You know, out of that meeting, one 

24          of the things came out of it, there's a 


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 1          concern about New York State not getting its 

 2          fair share of the various quotas that are 

 3          allocated by the federal government.  And the 

 4          Governor I think has recognized that also and 

 5          basically has directed the state to petition 

 6          the federal government for a fair share of 

 7          that quota, or to sue if the federal 

 8          government does not respond.  

 9                 You know, since we met in November, 

10          can you just update us as to what the status 

11          of those efforts are?  

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So when we met 

13          in November -- and thank you for having me 

14          out there.  Actually, it was a great meeting.  

15          I learned quite a bit about the industry.  

16                 We were expecting a decision from the 

17          federal government in December on quotas.  

18          We've been hammering them for several years 

19          about this, and we were expecting them to at 

20          least make a determination.  I couldn't say 

21          that I was optimistic that New York would 

22          somehow get a better share; we've been on the 

23          receiving end of a fairly hostile allocation 

24          that's gone on now for many years.  The 


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 1          Governor has spoken out about this.

 2                 What they have done is effectively 

 3          punted the decision all the way until maybe 

 4          September or October of this year.  So what 

 5          should have been done in December is now not 

 6          going to be done until almost a year later.  

 7          That puts us in a bit of a bind from a 

 8          litigation perspective, because you need to 

 9          challenge an agency action that's a final 

10          action.  So my question to my legal team now 

11          is what can we do in the interim, you know, 

12          short of litigation, to force the 

13          government's hand.

14                 I think we have a fantastic case to 

15          make.  I mean, the numbers themselves, on 

16          their face, are arresting.  You know, 

17          New York gets less than 10 percent of the 

18          share, and you have states like -- you know, 

19          smaller states where fishing isn't as 

20          important or isn't as vibrant get a much 

21          larger share.  And there's a variety of 

22          reasons we've arrived at this point, but we 

23          have to get out of this point.

24                 So if we petition over the next few 


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 1          months based on the existing status, will the 

 2          federal government turn that around?  

 3          Possibly.  But I think ultimately the force 

 4          of our arguments are going to be heard in the 

 5          court of law, as the Governor has said.  We 

 6          intend to see that forward.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Okay.  My second 

 8          question relates to something we've talked 

 9          about, and it has to do with the $2.5 billion 

10          water infrastructure improvement and a 

11          particular application.  And I've got the 

12          East Hampton Press here; they give out gold 

13          stars and dunce caps from time to time.

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Uh-oh.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Yeah.  And I get 

16          both from time to time myself.  And so did 

17          you.  The -- you got a gold star for all the 

18          efforts and the funding on the southern pine 

19          beetle.  And thank you, it really has made a 

20          difference, particularly in the Town of East 

21          Hampton.  

22                 But the dunce cap to the DEC was for 

23          rejecting a $1.75 million grant to replace 

24          the Springs School's ancient septic system 


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 1          solely because of the agency's own spelling 

 2          mistake.  The grant would have cleaned up 

 3          Accabonac Harbor, but the DEC searched for 

 4          Accabonac using the old English spelling, as 

 5          opposed to the modern spelling on the list of 

 6          compromised water bodies, and failed to find 

 7          the harbor and rejected the application.  

 8                 So that discharge continues to 

 9          threaten the harbor today.  That was one 

10          expensive "K."  My question -- and I think it 

11          relates to whether or not, with all the 

12          increased responsibilities, whether you need 

13          more staff to implement this program.  You 

14          know, the DEC -- I think the story about 

15          spelling is an apocryphal story.  I doubt 

16          that that's true.  But the fact of the matter 

17          is that the Springs School District was told 

18          that Accabonac Harbor was not an impaired 

19          water body, it was not on the Suffolk County 

20          Subwatersheds Plan.  

21                 And, you know, one Saturday -- you 

22          know, I work on the weekends too, Julie.  One 

23          Sunday morning I was on the DEC website and 

24          quickly found that Accabonac Harbor is an 


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 1          impaired water body, and I went to the 

 2          Suffolk County website and found out that 

 3          indeed Accabonac Harbor is on the Suffolk 

 4          County Subwatersheds Plan.  

 5                 You know, there's great support on 

 6          Long Island for water quality and water 

 7          quality updates, but when something like this 

 8          happens, you know, it creates a concern with 

 9          regard to whether or not we're going to be 

10          setting the right priorities for water 

11          quality.

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So you brought 

13          us the Springs School issue several weeks 

14          ago.  We've been talking internally about how 

15          that might be addressed.  And then we still 

16          have a few days until the vote, which I think 

17          is the 6th, correct?

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Right.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So I think more 

20          to come on that particular point.  I mean, I 

21          ultimately want to address that problem, I 

22          want to fix it, and understand that if we 

23          don't get it kicked back into a competitive 

24          process, you know, for the next round -- no 


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 1          question that the Clean Water Infrastructure 

 2          Act is as important in Long Island as it is 

 3          anywhere.  The septic problems and the 

 4          nitrogen problems on Long Island, the impacts 

 5          to the environment down there are 

 6          significant.  We've been down there many 

 7          times with the Governor where he's seen some 

 8          of the problems himself, and we've dedicated 

 9          money towards fixing those.

10                 So you have my commitment to at least 

11          try to fix the Springs School problem.  I 

12          told you that, and I definitely will try to 

13          do it until the very last minute.  

14                 And in terms of staffing, I'll say it 

15          again, I think we've been given more 

16          resources than ever to manage this program to 

17          manage clean water.  We're doing it 

18          extraordinarily well.  Are we perfect all the 

19          time?  No.  That's why we have an iterative 

20          process.  And we want to ensure that the 

21          grants that we want to make available towards 

22          fixing problems are being made quickly and 

23          being given out as broadly as possible to fix 

24          problems; in particularly, the priority water 


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 1          problems like the one you referenced.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  And I will be 

 3          sure to tell the East Hampton Press that your 

 4          office has been in constant contact with my 

 5          office and with Senator LaValle's office 

 6          trying to address the Springs issue.  And I 

 7          do appreciate the attention and the focus 

 8          that you put into that, and it's greatly 

 9          appreciated.  Thank you.

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

13                 Senator O'Mara.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yes, thank you, 

15          Commissioner.  I just would be remiss, as I 

16          didn't the first time around, to thank you 

17          and your staff, particularly Julie and Ken, 

18          for the great relationship that we have and 

19          working relationship over the years that I've 

20          been chairman and you've been commissioner.

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  I'll 

22          echo that.  Thank you.  

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And now I'll move on 

24          to tough questions again.


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 1                 (Laughter.)

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I want to echo the 

 3          concerns of Assemblyman Englebright and a few 

 4          others on the staffing issues at DEC and the 

 5          significant length of time it seems to take 

 6          the department to make decisions on a 

 7          multitude of issues.  It continues to be a 

 8          concern over the years, and I don't see the 

 9          department pushing hard enough to shorten 

10          time frames on the decision-making process.  

11                 What is going on in that regard?  

12                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Is there a 

13          specific example that you have in mind, 

14          Senator?  

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, there's 

16          several, but one pending one that's in its 

17          eighth or ninth year now is the underground 

18          gas storage in Watkins Glen.  And the length 

19          of time that process goes on is neither good 

20          for the industry or the community.  It's 

21          extremely problematic, an extremely divisive 

22          issue.  Dragging it out doesn't help anybody.

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  That matter has 

24          been now with our Hearings Division for some 


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 1          time.  The administrative law judge in that, 

 2          as you probably are aware, made a 

 3          determination back in October, perhaps, that 

 4          there were no issues for adjudication.  I 

 5          can't get into the details of that, but now 

 6          that issue is on appeal.  Ultimately, I'm the 

 7          final decisionmaker on that.  When the 

 8          appeals process is exhausted, that comes to 

 9          me.

10                 So I know we've spoken about this the 

11          last two budget hearings prior to this in a 

12          row.  I would just say on that particular 

13          project, it's now nearing the point where a 

14          determination can be made because it's gone 

15          through the hearing phase, appeals are 

16          underway, and we've gotten appeals from over 

17          several dozen parties.  And then once that's 

18          finally on my desk, I'll be making a 

19          determination on that.

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  But that particular 

21          incident was I think about five years before 

22          it went to an issues conference.  Which is 

23          way too long to determine whether an issues 

24          conference is needed.  And then the 


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 1          administrative law judge got it and didn't 

 2          give you a decision for two and a half years.  

 3          That's unconscionable delays in these 

 4          processes.  

 5                 What control do you have over the 

 6          administrative law judge panels that are out 

 7          there?  And can judges like this that take 

 8          this long be removed from that panel?

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, listen, I 

10          mean on a contentious issue like this, a big 

11          issue where you have dozens of parties that 

12          are involved and multiple aspects of a 

13          project that are under consideration, they 

14          take time inherently to understand.  You're 

15          reviewing not only, you know, complicated 

16          submissions from applicants but submissions 

17          from within the agency itself.  

18                 I can push our staff in many ways, and 

19          I am doing that on many other projects.  This 

20          one is in a different place.  I was eager to 

21          get this one through hearings and get a 

22          decision on this.  I think what you saw was a 

23          result of an enormous amount of work that 

24          went on behind the scenes.  And there are 


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 1          many other issues like it where, you know, 

 2          complicated decisions come before the agency 

 3          and they go into hearings, and the hearings 

 4          office is making determinations.  

 5                 I'll tell you that the hearings office 

 6          is actually pumping out decisions at a much 

 7          higher level than when I first came in.  I've 

 8          been signing orders on a very frequent basis.  

 9          Some of the more contentious ones take more 

10          time.  But I've been encouraging them to move 

11          quickly.  

12                 I don't think we're at the point where 

13          we need to talk about changing gears within 

14          hearings.  I think we have, you know, several 

15          major cases that are under review.  And I 

16          want to give my staff the chance to 

17          thoroughly review those.  I want to give my 

18          law judges the chance to thoroughly consider 

19          those and not unduly prejudice the outcomes.  

20                 But when it's fully in my control, if 

21          it's in the control of the staff, that's 

22          something I think we can move more swiftly 

23          when the legal process isn't in play.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  It's these delays 


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 1          that don't necessarily -- well, not 

 2          necessarily, they don't at all lay out the 

 3          welcome mat for industry in this state.  

 4                 And the Governor's Open for Business 

 5          slogan is not helped by these types of 

 6          delays, either within DEC or anywhere else in 

 7          the state that's out of your control, the 

 8          department's.

 9                 But it's everywhere.  And I go back 

10          to, again, it hurts our credibility of what 

11          we're trying to do economically in this state 

12          when things can't get done.

13                 On just a couple of other smaller 

14          matters.  We talked a couple of years in a 

15          row about the status of vehicles for 

16          Environmental Conservation Officers.  I know 

17          we talked about it at length last year.  And 

18          I think we ended up getting fewer vehicles 

19          last year than the year before.  

20                 Where are we now, and what are you 

21          planning on for this year?

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We got more 

23          vehicles last year than we did the year prior 

24          to that.  We have about a comparable number 


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 1          this year that we're dedicating to the ECOs 

 2          and Rangers.  

 3                 I think we've actually gotten over the 

 4          hump.  There was the years of disinvestment 

 5          in 2008 to '10, or maybe 2007 to '10, where 

 6          the state wasn't buying vehicles.  Because of 

 7          that chunk of years where you had a void, you 

 8          had older vehicles coming into service and 

 9          being used longer, and we had to catch up to 

10          it.

11                 We're not a hundred percent there on 

12          the ECOs and Rangers, but we're making a real 

13          dent in it.  I know it because I go to a lot 

14          of the rescues and incidents that they have, 

15          and I'm seeing far more newer vehicles than 

16          the older ones that sort of typified the 

17          agency back in 2010, 2011.  And I think it's, 

18          you know, something that in two or three 

19          years we'll be past that time because the 

20          useful life of those old vehicles will 

21          frankly be behind us.

22                 But it's been one of my -- one of my 

23          commitments was the commitment to the forces 

24          when I first came in that I would seek to 


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 1          modernize the fleets as quickly as possible.  

 2          We've gotten a dispensation from the Budget 

 3          Division to do so.  And we'll continue to do 

 4          that and get us into sort of a carrying 

 5          capacity moving forward once we reach that 

 6          point.

 7                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  And 

 8          that's certainly a priority for myself and 

 9          many others, for the safety and frankly just 

10          the appearance of the department.

11                 Are there any classes pending for 

12          EnCon Officers or Forest Rangers at this 

13          point?

14                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Nothing pending.  

15          We just finished the second back-to-back 

16          class in August, and we're talking right now 

17          internally about timing the scheduling of the 

18          next class.  But it's my intent to push that 

19          forward as quickly as possible.

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How many came out of 

21          the last back-to-back classes?  

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We had about 50 

23          graduate last time, maybe 55 the class 

24          before.  I'd have to look at the exact 


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 1          numbers.  It's ECOs and rangers.  So what 

 2          we're trying to do is make up for the years 

 3          where there wasn't any -- no classes were 

 4          being held.  Again, the same time period, the 

 5          late 2000s, during the fiscal crisis.  And 

 6          then, you know, make up and then also match 

 7          for retirements.  The force in certain 

 8          respects is aging.  We want to make sure that 

 9          we're bringing in enough new classes to cover 

10          retirements and attrition.  And that 

11          hopefully will happen in the next year or so.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

14                 Assemblyman Colton.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Yes, thank you, 

16          Commissioner.  I also appreciate your raising 

17          in your comments the issue of climate change 

18          and the urgency of it, which I think is at a 

19          crisis stage and it's going to become even 

20          more of a crisis as we deal with policies 

21          coming from Washington, D.C.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Agreed.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  As you pointed 

24          out, New York has a goal currently of 


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 1          50 percent renewable energy by 2030.  Can you 

 2          tell us where we are at this point in that?

 3                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Yes, I think one 

 4          of the -- maybe Senator Krueger raised a 

 5          similar question.  And I'd encourage you to 

 6          raise that with NYSERDA today.  They track 

 7          more of the compliance towards those targets 

 8          than DEC does.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  I will, 

10          definitely.

11                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  There's a study 

13          you are conducting with NYSERDA regarding how 

14          to reach 100 percent renewable.  And a 

15          report, I assume, will be coming out.  Do we 

16          have any idea as to when that report will be 

17          released to the public?

18                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We're in the 

19          late stages of that report now, working with 

20          NYSERDA.  Expect to release it to the public 

21          at some point probably this spring.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Okay.  The 

23          Governor announced that solar power in 

24          New York has increased more than 


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 1          1,000 percent from 2011 to 2017, and there 

 2          was more than $2.8 billion in private 

 3          investment in New York's economy.

 4                 Do we know what is the percentage of 

 5          the state's electricity currently coming from 

 6          solar?  

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I don't know the 

 8          percentage.  I'm not sure we at DEC know 

 9          that.  Certainly NYSERDA and/or DPS would 

10          have a better sense of the percentages.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Because according 

12          to U.S. Energy Information Administration 

13          Sources, they estimate about 3 percent for 

14          wind and solar energy at the current time, 

15          which is certainly -- a lot more needs to be 

16          done.

17                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Also, the 

19          administration has talked about the state 

20          generating about a quarter of its electricity 

21          from renewables.  And a large portion of that 

22          comes from hydro-generated electricity.  Do 

23          you know of any hydro-generated electricity 

24          projects that have come online within, say, 


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 1          the last year?  

 2                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I don't 

 3          personally know of any new ones that have 

 4          come online in the last year.  I know there's 

 5          a mix of hydro upstate in the Mohawk and 

 6          Hudson Valleys, Great Sacandaga.  The largest 

 7          source of hydropower in New York is the 

 8          Robert Moses Dam, Moses-Saunders Dam up on 

 9          the St. Lawrence River.  It produces an 

10          enormous amount of hydro for the state.  I 

11          believe there's also hydro coming in from -- 

12          or at least proposed to come in from Quebec.  

13          So hydro is an important component of it.  

14                 I think probably NYSERDA would have a 

15          better sense of the actual timing -- or NYPA, 

16          for that matter, coming on today as well -- 

17          the actual timing of various projects that 

18          are either under development or when they 

19          came into effect.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  I also would 

21          agree with your comments that it is going to 

22          be absolutely essential for all state 

23          agencies to work together and have a plan 

24          that will generate reaching the goals that we 


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 1          set and the benchmarks to see how we're 

 2          coming along the line to do that.  

 3                 I think that, you know, that needs to 

 4          be something that I hope we'll see comes 

 5          about, because I think this is a crisis that 

 6          we simply cannot ignore in the future.  I 

 7          think it's going to have disastrous impacts 

 8          upon us.

 9                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I agree with 

10          you.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Also, it was 

12          mentioned by the Senator about the Seneca 

13          Lake incinerator project.  And first of all, 

14          I think that certainly, you know, that is not 

15          something that would be described as 

16          renewable energy.  I think that we should not 

17          include that in when we consider renewable 

18          energy.

19                 Also, I had a project in my own 

20          district where an incinerator operated 

21          without a permit for some 30 years in the 

22          past -- this was in the '70s and the '80s and 

23          the '90s -- and with 18 consent orders.  And 

24          I think DEC in those past administrations 


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 1          miserably failed to protect the people in 

 2          this regard.  And I think we're still, 

 3          50 years later, feeling the consequences of 

 4          the disaster of those actions.  

 5                 So I think DEC must be very vigilant 

 6          in terms of making sure that every permit 

 7          that is required is issued and that there be 

 8          a real transparency in terms of the 

 9          procedures and the proceedings, whether it's 

10          SEQRA or some other procedure, that the 

11          public must be included.  And there must be a 

12          real transparency.  Because what happened in 

13          my community illustrates the disastrous 

14          results when DEC fails to do that kind of 

15          protection.  

16                 So I certainly would be interested in, 

17          you know, what happens in Seneca Lake.  That 

18          is -- I think, you know, has a tremendous 

19          impact on our community.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  You have my 

21          commitment to a transparent and vigilant 

22          process.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Thank you.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Certainly we are 


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 1          required to do that, and we should be doing 

 2          that.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Thank you.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 5                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Senate?  

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Senator Pam Helming.

 8                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you, Senator.  

 9                 Commissioner, thanks again.

10                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Senator.

11                 SENATOR HELMING:  To the Assemblyman, 

12          thank you for your comments and your support 

13          regarding Seneca Lake.

14                 Just a quick comment on that.  So the 

15          Article 10 process strips any local 

16          decision-making.  What it does is it takes it 

17          out of the locals' hands and it puts it into 

18          the hands of five state agencies, the leaders 

19          of those agencies, I believe, and two town 

20          representatives.  

21                 But really what I wanted to get on to 

22          was the third topic on my list today, and 

23          that is Plan 2014 and the devastating 

24          flooding that occurred along the southern 


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 1          shores of Lake Ontario this past year.  And I 

 2          want to thank the DEC because you were there 

 3          helping us during the flooding doing whatever 

 4          we could to protect.  

 5                 But, Commissioner, I go back to your 

 6          words that prevention is always the best 

 7          measure.  And along those lines, I'm 

 8          wondering what type of funding or 

 9          resources are in this year's budget to help 

10          develop resiliency plans for those folks who 

11          live or own businesses along the southern 

12          shore of Lake Ontario.  

13                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, Senator, I 

14          agree with you, it's a major issue.  Planning 

15          for resiliency and carrying that out, mindful 

16          of the likelihood of future flooding events, 

17          is really important.

18                 I mean, we're working very closely 

19          with the Department of State, spending monies 

20          largely through the EPF on resiliency 

21          projects, and have been doing that for 

22          several years.  There's certain limitations 

23          as to how those monies can be spent.  EPF 

24          money, for example, can't be spent on private 


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 1          property.  So, you know, when we're talking 

 2          about resiliency through the EPF, we're 

 3          talking largely about making municipal or 

 4          state-owned facilities more resilient.  That 

 5          doesn't help the people in low-lying areas 

 6          who were subject to flooding.  

 7                 So one of the things that the Governor 

 8          did several weeks ago was write a letter to 

 9          the Army Corps regarding the need to take 

10          advanced measures on Lake Ontario.  It's a 

11          program called the Advance Measure Program -- 

12          I know you're familiar with -- so that the 

13          Army Corps can use some of its resources and 

14          dollars to put up temporary structures in the 

15          event of flooding.  Things like dams, levies.  

16          When I say temporary, it might be slightly 

17          longer than a year or two, even three, 

18          because it can last for a longer period of 

19          time.

20                 So we're encouraging the federal 

21          government to step up, spend their money, 

22          dedicate their resources to fix those 

23          problems.  I have a meeting coming up shortly 

24          with the colonel in charge of the coastline, 


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 1          Lake Ontario coastline.

 2                 The other projects that we have going 

 3          on on the lake -- you know, we have studies 

 4          underway not just on Lake Ontario but 

 5          elsewhere in the Hudson Valley and 

 6          Mohawk River that have fully characterized 

 7          the watershed and its impacts and how you can 

 8          then go spend dollars quickly on those.  

 9          They're meant to fast-track spending.  You 

10          see that in the Mohawk Valley.  I know that's 

11          not your district, but, you know, the MMI 

12          studies that we did there facilitated very 

13          quick investment on the Sauquoit Creek, where 

14          you had a big flash flood last summer.  So 

15          had we not done those studies, we would have 

16          been behind the 8 ball.  

17                 So my intent is to bring that to Lake 

18          Ontario as well, the shoreline there, ensure 

19          we understand that --

20                 SENATOR HELMING:  When?  Can you give 

21          me some timeline?  And also because I don't 

22          want to get cut off, I'm going to ask a 

23          couple more questions and maybe you could 

24          answer it all together.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Okay.  Okay.

 2                 SENATOR HELMING:  Do the DEC and the 

 3          Governor have an official position on Plan 

 4          2014?  And how does the DEC feel about the 

 5          first year of implementation of this plan?  

 6          Has it been successful, in the DEC's mind, as 

 7          far as from an environmental impact?  

 8                 Because what I want to just share with 

 9          you is I stood out there for months, I 

10          watched that flooding come up the shore, I 

11          watched when it started to recede.  And when 

12          you talk about environmental impacts and lake 

13          quality and protecting lakes, the stuff that 

14          was washed back into that lake -- the oils, 

15          the toxins, everything from that flooding -- 

16          it was just devastating.  And I'm wondering 

17          how the DEC measures the impact to the lake 

18          as a result of flooding.

19                 Also, when you look at low-lying 

20          communities like Sodus Point, I believe in 

21          the Edgemere Drive area in Greece, and also 

22          in Cayuga County, maybe in the Fair Haven 

23          area -- these low-lying areas, their flood 

24          threshold is say around 240 feet.  The 


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 1          trigger point for releasing water, according 

 2          to Plan 2014, is higher than that.  

 3                 So I'm not a scientist, but common 

 4          sense tells you that they can always 

 5          anticipate flooding.  And the IJC confirmed 

 6          that during a public hearing that Senator 

 7          O'Mara, Assemblyman Bob Oaks, and several 

 8          other of my colleagues, we held this summer.  

 9          They acknowledged that we're going to have 

10          this flooding, and they put the onus back 

11          onto the state DEC, saying that you should be 

12          responsible for resiliency plans and 

13          protecting your communities.  

14                 So what are we doing to protect our 

15          communities?  How are we getting the message 

16          out there?  What's being done right now, 

17          since the water levels are so high and we're 

18          going to flood again?  

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Right.  Well, 

20          I'll tell you this.  Water levels are above 

21          average right now --

22                 SENATOR HELMING:  Just like last year.

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  -- not just in 

24          Lake Ontario, but in the entire basin.  In my 


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 1          view, and in the view of our scientists, 

 2          likely it's the natural water cycle.  There 

 3          may be more water in the basin, for whatever 

 4          reason.  There's been more snow in the last 

 5          five or 10 years.  So we're dealing with a 

 6          natural condition.  

 7                 Last year I believe most of the 

 8          problems we saw were related to that 

 9          precipitation, some of that runoff.  

10          Nonetheless, when we have that much water in 

11          the basin, we need to act quickly to release 

12          water.  I'm happy to report that not only has 

13          NYPA increased -- and they'll be able to 

14          testify to this later today.  Not only have 

15          they increased water levels recently in the 

16          last few weeks to accelerate water going over 

17          the Moses-Saunders Dam to keep the water 

18          levels down in the lake, they may I believe 

19          today have just increased water levels again 

20          and may do so again in the coming weeks.

21                 This is -- I would call it a slightly 

22          more responsive IJC than we saw last year.  

23          My staff met with them three weeks ago.  One 

24          of the demands that we had was we need you to 


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 1          start releasing water the minute you see a 

 2          potential problem coming.  And what we've 

 3          seen since that meeting in fact is three 

 4          commitments, two or three commitments to 

 5          reduce water levels by increasing water 

 6          flows.  

 7                 So today's action is encouraging, 

 8          unlike last year, when you had extreme 

 9          flooding in Montreal which really prevented 

10          us from letting more water out.  That was due 

11          in part to the Ottawa River being also very 

12          high in flows.  You don't have that condition 

13          this year.  So we have the ability and 

14          there's more capacity downstream for us to 

15          take action now.  

16                 And I've been encouraged certainly at 

17          least to this point by the IJC's willingness 

18          to entertain that and give directives to NYPA 

19          to begin increasing those flows.  So we don't 

20          believe, you know, that this summer will be a 

21          repeat of last year's.  But right now the 

22          data we're seeing is instructing us to do as 

23          much as we can to abate that, and I think we 

24          are at that point right now.


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 1                 SENATOR HELMING:  Commissioner, so is 

 2          that a yes or a no to do the DEC or Governor 

 3          have an official position on Plan 2014?

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  No.  So as you 

 5          may know, Plan 2014 was a federal decision.

 6                 SENATOR HELMING:  Yes.

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I spoke a number 

 8          of times with the federal government, 

 9          including the White House on a couple of 

10          occasions, encouraging them that if they did 

11          the program, that they had to merge the 

12          program with funding for mitigation.  

13                 They didn't coordinate with us on the 

14          release of the plan itself, and ultimately 

15          they came out with a plan that had no 

16          mitigation funding along with it.  That was a 

17          major failure of the IJC, it was a major 

18          failure of the prior administration.  They 

19          should have listened to what we were saying.  

20          Regardless of whether or not the water levels 

21          were going to be as high as they were, it 

22          would have been prudent government to just 

23          get the money out there for mitigation 

24          projects, because we knew that Plan 2014 


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 1          would lead to higher highs and lower lows and 

 2          more damage, and that more investment would 

 3          have to happen.  Instead, they shifted the 

 4          burden to the state and all of you to come up 

 5          with the money for those projects.

 6                 SENATOR HELMING:  But reading through 

 7          the book that, Julie, you gave me in the 

 8          elevator, the latest publication from the 

 9          IJC -- you said it came from Lana Pollack -- 

10          in there I was shocked to see that in 

11          New York State -- the IJC held 13 listening 

12          sessions.  Only two of them were in New York 

13          State, and they were way over in Buffalo.  

14                 And I didn't see in there, but maybe I 

15          missed it -- or maybe it is in there -- did 

16          New York State officially take that position 

17          that you just explained?  Was that ever put 

18          in writing to the IJC?  

19                 And also, again, does the DEC consider 

20          this first year of the implementation of 

21          Plan 2014 as a success?  I remember last year 

22          I think a similar question was asked by 

23          Senator O'Mara on Plan 2014, and I thought 

24          the answer had something to do with "this is 


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 1          necessary to increase wetlands."  

 2                 And my concern is, how do you balance 

 3          the need to increase wetlands against the 

 4          detriment to destroying people's homes, their 

 5          property, and small businesses that have been 

 6          around for decades?

 7                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Mm-hmm.  Well, 

 8          listen, I mean I -- full disclosure, my 

 9          in-laws have a couple of properties on the 

10          river that were heavily impacted last year, 

11          so I'm aware of the damage firsthand that 

12          resulted from the high water levels.

13                 You know, we -- we're at the point 

14          where we look back over 10 years of how this 

15          Plan 2014, which used to be called Plan BB7, 

16          how that came to be.  I think there were 

17          admirable reasons for some of it being 

18          introduced, because, you know, the creation 

19          of wetlands generates more business for 

20          hunting and fishing and boating and 

21          everything else.

22                 At the same time, there were and have 

23          been concerns raised about the increased 

24          damages.  And, you know, the meetings that 


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 1          were held, the stakeholder meetings predated 

 2          me, I don't think I was in the chamber for -- 

 3          when some of those meetings were happening.  

 4          Much of the early work on this, when New York 

 5          State was heavily involved, predates the 

 6          Cuomo administration.  That took place 

 7          largely in the past administration.  

 8                 But fast forward, do I think Plan 2014 

 9          has been a success?  It's hard to say 

10          Plan 2014 has been a success when you had 

11          such a high water level in year one.  It's 

12          probably almost the worst year that they 

13          could have launched Plan 2014, because 

14          everyone will have connected the conditions 

15          we saw, which were natural conditions, with 

16          the plan itself -- and the inability, 

17          frankly, of the IJC to quickly pivot, quickly 

18          make decisions and remain transparent and 

19          remain sympathetic to the needs of homeowners 

20          over shipping interests and other interests.

21                 So I don't think year one was a 

22          success by any stretch.  We've told that to 

23          the IJC.  I had them in my office telling 

24          them that.  The letter that we sent to them 


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 1          demanded more accountability and transparency 

 2          this year, and faster decision-making.  

 3          Ultimately, it's the federal government 

 4          decision to proceed with Plan 2014 or not.  

 5          Until they make a different determination, 

 6          it's our job as a state to ensure they're 

 7          letting water out quickly, regularly, and 

 8          protecting homeowners and the lakeshore.

 9                 SENATOR HELMING:  Right now the 

10          Governor is attacking the federal government 

11          on every single issue.  I'd like to see some 

12          pressure put on the federal government about 

13          Plan 2014 and getting that changed.  

14                 I mean, again, it all goes back to 

15          those higher highs and those lower lows.  We 

16          know as a fact even normal weather conditions 

17          are going to result in flooding in some of 

18          our communities.

19                 Thank you.

20                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Hi, Commissioner.

23                 One, I want to say thank you very much 

24          for the cooperative and immensely helpful 


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 1          efforts by DEC during the flooding last 

 2          spring, summer, fall of Lake Ontario, because 

 3          so many people were needing immediate help.  

 4          And I know your permitting process, you know, 

 5          you did probably 10 times as many as you 

 6          would normally do in a season.  And so thank 

 7          you for that.

 8                 I think once we've gotten beyond that 

 9          flood stage, though, I would say that we're 

10          slower to respond, and obviously you moving 

11          more to your normal process of, you know, 

12          looking at things.  But I do have the concern 

13          that we are about where we were a year ago.  

14          And there are people trying to do some 

15          resiliency projects, but we're not getting 

16          fast enough the approvals from DEC.

17                 So some to comments perhaps that 

18          Senator O'Mara talked to in a general sense, 

19          but clearly we're seeing that now as a 

20          possibility for this coming year again.  And 

21          so just that concern of responding to those.

22                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  We certainly 

23          learned a great deal last year about our 

24          capabilities.  And I think we issued 


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 1          something like 3,000 or 4,000 permits within 

 2          48 hours of receipt, which is an 

 3          extraordinarily undertaking.  We shifted many 

 4          of our permitting folks from other regions, 

 5          we actually surged them into lakeshore areas.  

 6          We had opened up some permitting offices, we 

 7          were, you know, literally right at the 

 8          lakeshore proximate to people's homes.  

 9                 So we learned quite a bit about our 

10          capabilities, our ability to turn around 

11          permits quickly -- again, 3,000 or 4,000, I 

12          don't have the exact number offhand, 3,000 or 

13          4,000 permits that we got out there, and have 

14          begun to coordinate internally in preparation 

15          for the next summer, for the next potential 

16          event.  And I'm hoping that we're not going 

17          to see another return to last year.  But 

18          we'll be ready again to run those permits 

19          through.  

20                 And I think if there are individual 

21          resiliency projects that aren't getting the 

22          attention they need in this interim period, 

23          people should just pick up the phone and call 

24          me -- call us.  And I'm eager to see these 


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 1          projects move forward as quickly as possible.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  One of the 

 3          things -- I know Senator Helming just talked 

 4          about somewhat Plan 2014, obviously.  I guess 

 5          one of the things that I would look at is one 

 6          of the weaknesses of it.  You just talked 

 7          about going to greater outflow, which is a 

 8          positive, I applaud that, whatever.  But my 

 9          understanding is that's about 9 inches below 

10          a trigger level which would normally say "get 

11          going."

12                 And so that seems to be, in my sense, 

13          an inherent problem with the plan, is that 

14          the way the trigger levels have been done, it 

15          anticipates -- or expects there will be 

16          flooding and doesn't anticipate the ability.

17                 And so I like what, you know, is being 

18          done, but again my concern would be that the 

19          plan itself, if we aren't doing, you know, 

20          your type of advocacy and others at this 

21          point, that the plan would allow us to be 

22          back to or at least have the greater threat 

23          of the flooding that we --

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Well, I'll tell 


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 1          you, I mean, the plan may need to be modified 

 2          in certain ways.  I mean, there may need to 

 3          be greater safeguards for trigger levels.  

 4          And I think that's a conversation that we 

 5          would be willing to have.  I've got 

 6          Great Lakes staff who know this issue very 

 7          well and are willing to get involved and 

 8          address trigger levels.  

 9                 You know, I agree with you -- I mean, 

10          we're spending an enormous amount of time 

11          advocating for action now.  I mean, NYPA is 

12          very aggressive on this as well.  The 

13          Governor is aggressive on it.  We're all 

14          aggressive on it.  But I think that 

15          ultimately it has to run itself.  And after 

16          year one, let's see what year two brings us.  

17          If we're not seeing the right kinds of 

18          responses, then I think we're going to need 

19          to at least get some more flexibility from 

20          the federal government.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  I'm sure you'll 

22          have some eager legislators from that area to 

23          work with you on that.

24                 Jumping, actually, to another point 


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 1          that's been brought up, the proposed 

 2          incinerator in the Finger Lakes.  You said 

 3          that you haven't received it yet.  When you 

 4          get it, you'll give it your normal fair 

 5          hearing.

 6                 I know the concern is obviously 

 7          there's been a lot of opposition at the local 

 8          level.  The company I believe started out 

 9          going the local route for approval; seeing 

10          that that wasn't going to be likely, moved to 

11          the Article 10 process.  And, you know, the 

12          major concern, I know Article 10 allows some 

13          input, but decision-making is not -- is taken 

14          out of the hands of the local area.  

15                 Just hope that, you know, the local 

16          input will be taken extremely seriously.  And 

17          I think others have laid out some of the 

18          concerns with that.

19                 I guess I just have a general comment.  

20          Do we know, since Article 10 became law, how 

21          many projects have been approved in the 

22          state?  

23                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  I couldn't give 

24          you the exact statistic offhand.  I know the 


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 1          first wind project is just getting through 

 2          Article 10 right now.  I'm not aware of 

 3          another incinerator project that has come 

 4          into Article 10.  I'd have to get you 

 5          statistics on that.  Some of my successors 

 6          today might be able to answer that more 

 7          specifically.  But it's probably a relatively 

 8          low number.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you, 

10          Commissioner.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Commissioner, I 

12          know you've addressed some of the components 

13          of the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of last 

14          year, and I just had a question about one of 

15          the components.  It also -- the act includes 

16          $200 million for projects in the New York 

17          City watershed.  And I want to know if you 

18          could share with us what projects are under 

19          consideration, and what's the timeline for 

20          these projects?

21                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  So we're working 

22          very closely with New York City DEP on this.  

23          I'd have to give you a follow-up on that as 

24          to where each of the projects is in the 


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 1          pipeline.  

 2                 But we have been, frankly, talking 

 3          with DEP for the better part of 25 years on 

 4          projects in the watershed, in the memorandum 

 5          of understanding that really charted out the 

 6          upstate -- the protection of the reservoir 

 7          system and the filtration avoidance 

 8          determination.  We want those projects to 

 9          ultimately support that effort.  There are 

10          other major projects within the five boroughs 

11          helping them comply with the consent orders 

12          that we have on the books on wastewater 

13          discharges, green infrastructure.

14                 But I can give you a follow-up email 

15          as to exactly where all those projects are.  

16          I'd be happy to.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

18          Thank you for being here today.

19                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  I think that 

21          we're done with the questioning.  So we 

22          really appreciate you, Commissioner, for 

23          being here today.

24                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Thank you, 


                                                                   186

 1          Senator.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And thank you, and 

 3          look forward to continuing to work with you.

 4                 COMMISSIONER SEGGOS:  Likewise.  Good 

 5          to see you all.  Thanks.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 7                 Our next speaker is Commissioner Rose 

 8          Harvey, from the New York State Office of 

 9          Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

10                 (Discussion off the record.)

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Careful, 

12          Commissioner.  

13                 Welcome.  

14                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Look forward to 

16          your testimony.

17                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It was a quick 

18          transition.

19                 Good morning.  Good morning, 

20          Chairwoman Young, Chairwoman Weinstein, 

21          Senator Funke and Assemblyman O'Donnell, and 

22          all the distinguished members of the State 

23          Legislature.  Thanks for inviting me to give 

24          this testimony.  


                                                                   187

 1                 As commissioner of Parks, Recreation 

 2          and Historic Preservation, I oversee 

 3          New York's outstanding system of 250 

 4          individual state parks, historic sites, boat 

 5          launches and recreational trails.  And I'm 

 6          also very fortunate to lead an incredibly 

 7          talented, dedicated and hardworking staff who 

 8          take great pride in caring for their 

 9          properties and providing meaningful 

10          experiences to all our visitors.  

11                 We New Yorkers are united in the 

12          belief that public parkland deeply benefits 

13          ourselves, our society, our community, our 

14          state.  Parks are our common ground.  They're 

15          the lands, the refuges, the open space, the 

16          history that belong to all of us and benefit 

17          all of us.  

18                 The park system had a very robust year 

19          in 2017.  Despite a very rainy peak season 

20          and extensive flooding along Lake Ontario, we 

21          welcomed more than 71 million visitors,  

22          continuing the system's steady increase in 

23          attendance since 2011 -- 14 million, a total 

24          23 percent increase.  Also a recent economic 


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 1          impact study commissioned by Parks & Trails 

 2          New York showed that our system annually 

 3          supports $5 billion in output and sales, 

 4          54,000 private-sector jobs, and more than 

 5          $2.8 billion in additional state GDP.  And 

 6          that's an increase from previous studies.  

 7          That is, every dollar spent by or on behalf 

 8          of State Parks generates $9 in sales 

 9          statewide.  

10                 The 2018-'19 Executive Budget provides 

11          for excellent stewardship for the lands and 

12          the historic sites entrusted to our care, 

13          while maintaining the fiscal discipline 

14          needed in uncertain times.  It provides level 

15          funding for agency operations and programs, 

16          continues our baseline $90 million annual 

17          capital appropriation, and maintains the 

18          Environmental Protection Fund at its historic 

19          high.  

20                 The capital allocation will continue 

21          through our NY Parks 2020 initiative, and 

22          will continue to reverse decades of decline 

23          and neglect in our parks and transform and 

24          modernize them for the 21st century.  Since 


                                                                   189

 1          the Governor launched this initiative, this 

 2          $900 million multiyear investment, with your 

 3          huge support -- and we're very thankful for 

 4          that -- we have initiated more than 700 

 5          improvement projects across the state, with 

 6          more than 60 percent directed at rebuilding 

 7          deteriorated infrastructure, reopening 

 8          formerly closed facilities, rehabilitating 

 9          underused facilities and structures, and 

10          weaving in resiliency throughout that and 

11          emphasizing stewardship projects.  

12                 As well, in partnership with the 

13          National Park Service and the City of 

14          New York, it's our intention to open a new 

15          State Park in Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, 

16          hopefully in 2019, as part of the Governor's 

17          Vital Brooklyn initiative.  

18                 In the first preliminary phase, the 

19          state will invest up to $15 million to open 

20          the site to the public, creating 3.5 miles of 

21          waterfront paths and trails and new places 

22          for biking, hiking, kayaking and fishing for 

23          communities that have very little parkland.  

24                 In fully funding the EPF, the 


                                                                   190

 1          Executive Budget will enhance and is 

 2          crucially important to the stewardship of our 

 3          state's natural and cultural resources, and 

 4          it will help us connect more people to the 

 5          environment.  

 6                 Schools in every part of the state are 

 7          taking advantage of the Connect Kids to Parks 

 8          grant program, which provides particularly 

 9          Title 1 school districts free educational 

10          field trips to our parks, our historic sites, 

11          and DEC environmental centers.  State Parks 

12          now reaches 250,000 schoolchildren annually 

13          in its education program, and that's up from 

14          75,000 in 2011.  

15                 Our Division for Historic Preservation 

16          continues to lead the nation in its 

17          preservation programming.  This past year we 

18          added over 1,500 properties to the National 

19          Register of Historic Places, which in turn 

20          brings and is a gateway to protections and 

21          preservation initiatives for these sites that 

22          are so important to our state history. 

23                 Last year the State Historic 

24          Preservation Office reviewed 18,000 


                                                                   191

 1          submissions for potential impacts to cultural 

 2          resources, and we dropped our review time 

 3          down to an average of 10 days, and that is 

 4          with our new digital CRIS system.  

 5                 Governor Cuomo's 2013 enhancements to 

 6          the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit 

 7          Program, with really strong support from the 

 8          Legislature, helped trigger $3.6 billion in 

 9          investment in historic commercial properties, 

10          with over two-thirds of those upstate.  We're 

11          also proud to announce that this year alone, 

12          New York State once again led the nation with 

13          a record $1.2 billion in tax credit 

14          investments in our state.  

15                 Despite their success, the state 

16          historic tax credits were diminished in the 

17          overhaul of the federal tax code.  With our 

18          program tied directly to the federal program, 

19          we're currently evaluating opportunities to 

20          decouple the state program so it operates 

21          independently, reauthorize the program to 

22          restore investor confidence, and examine 

23          enhancements that would maintain investment 

24          in the state and mitigate against the 


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 1          negative impact the federal tax reform 

 2          process has created in all states.  

 3                 Last January, Governor Cuomo announced 

 4          the creation of the Empire State Trail, a 

 5          750-mile bicycling and walking trail spanning 

 6          New York State.  It will connect to and 

 7          connect together the state's very special and 

 8          unique natural and cultural resources.  And 

 9          as well, it will promote safe, healthy 

10          outdoor recreation, enhance community 

11          vitality, and support tourism-based economic 

12          development.  

13                 Considerable progress has been made, 

14          including release of the Empire State Trail 

15          Plan and a detailed design guide.  Parks is 

16          in construction of 30 miles right now that 

17          will soon be finished, and engineering 

18          designs are in process for more than 60 trail 

19          projects.  

20                 As well, the Governor has announced a 

21          $50 million commitment to complete the 

22          Hudson River Park, and that will be in 

23          partnership with New York City.  

24                 So thank you.  Thank you again for 


                                                                   193

 1          your commitment to our magnificent state park 

 2          system and all our historic preservation 

 3          programs.  Thank you for the dollars invested 

 4          into this system to help provide a safe place 

 5          to be active and healthy, and also to learn 

 6          how to be healthy and active -- to build mind 

 7          and muscle, to strengthen social bonds, and 

 8          to gain a greater understanding of our  

 9          natural and our cultural and our historic 

10          heritage.  These dollars are an investment in 

11          New York's health, and they're an investment 

12          in New York's economy, and they're an 

13          investment in our communities.  

14                 So thank you again very, very much for 

15          all that you do, and I welcome your 

16          questions.  I hope I welcome your questions.

17                 (Laughter.)

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

20          Commissioner, for that.

21                 I do have a couple of questions.  So 

22          the Executive Budget recommends a net 

23          decrease of $8 million, for a total of 

24          $200.7 million in total capital funding for 


                                                                   194

 1          the parks.  And so in recent years the Office 

 2          of Parks has received a significant amount in 

 3          capital funding, including $92.5 million 

 4          proposed for this coming fiscal year.  

 5                 Can you provide a list of the projects 

 6          planned over the next fiscal year?  And we 

 7          ask this question every year, and it's very 

 8          difficult to get the list.  So it would be 

 9          very helpful if you could get that for us.

10                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We can, 

11          absolutely.  We're in, you know, the process.  

12          It's a multiyear, many-phase program; we're 

13          in the third phase.  We're working out all of 

14          the particulars.  And we can and will.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  When will we get 

16          the list?

17                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We're working on 

18          it right now, and we'll get it to you as soon 

19          as -- very soon, I'm sure.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And see, that -- in 

21          all due respect, Commissioner, that's the 

22          problem that we have every year, is that 

23          we're putting a budget together, we're being 

24          asked to vote on a budget, and yet we don't 


                                                                   195

 1          have the detail on how the money would be 

 2          spent.  And when we do get a list, it's far 

 3          beyond when the budget is passed, typically.

 4                 So why can't we get a list before the 

 5          budget is passed on the projects?

 6                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We are -- I 

 7          mean, first is we're making sure that, you 

 8          know, we've got the right list and, you know, 

 9          some projects are phased and so forth and so 

10          on.  But then we'll give it to the 

11          administration.  And we're very close, so I'm 

12          very optimistic that you will get it very 

13          soon.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Before the budget 

15          is passed?

16                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I -- I will give 

17          it -- we hope so.  We hope so.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Can you give 

19          us an update, a detailed update on the status 

20          of the Empire State Trail?

21                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It's -- it's -- 

22          we've got the route and we've had many public 

23          meetings about that, talked to a lot of 

24          communities.  We actually, in creating the 


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 1          route, also talked to many communities in 

 2          terms of choosing it.  We have the design.  

 3          And we are in construction on 30 miles now, 

 4          that's Parks.  And there -- we have gained 

 5          control of a 31-mile private property which 

 6          was really crucial, and we've got 60 

 7          engineering projects going in design.  And as 

 8          you know, some of it will be by DOT, some of 

 9          it will be by NYPA, some by the Hudson River 

10          Greenway, and some by Parks.  So that we can 

11          be very efficient and the agencies that own 

12          the land can do the construction.

13                 So it's moving.  It's moving well.  

14          And we have great local support.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.

16                 You and I had a good conversation 

17          recently about Zoar Valley, which is in 

18          Western New York, and it's a very wild area.  

19          And every year we have tragedies that occur 

20          there, people get lost, people fall in the 

21          gorge and get killed, we've had incidents 

22          where, you know, someone at the top has 

23          thrown logs over the side, hit someone in the 

24          head below and killed them.  


                                                                   197

 1                 And the most recent very tragic 

 2          incident dealt with a young couple who took 

 3          their two young children there, and the 

 4          parents fell to their deaths.  

 5                 The Parks Police has joined in with 

 6          the DEC, local law enforcement, the 

 7          State Troopers over the years to patrol 

 8          sporadically Zoar Valley.  But I believe that 

 9          the state could do many things to make it a 

10          safer area.  We can't legislate common sense, 

11          and sometimes some of the things that happen 

12          there seem to lack common sense, and that's 

13          the cause.  But at the same time I think we 

14          need to do more.  

15                 And as you know, I was looking at 

16          putting in legislation to make it a state 

17          park.  I know that probably isn't realistic.  

18          But I want to draw attention to the fact that 

19          we have Zoar Valley.  So could you comment on 

20          that and some of the safety issues that we 

21          see there?  And what would the parks role be, 

22          in addition to the DEC, in helping address 

23          those safety issues?

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We're very happy 


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 1          to work with DEC.  DEC operates and manages 

 2          it, but we work very closely together, and we 

 3          will sit down with Basil and all of his staff 

 4          and think about how we can support each 

 5          other.  Both agencies are -- we support each 

 6          other all the time, in the ways that are most 

 7          efficient, and we'd be very happy to work 

 8          with them.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

11          O'Donnell, chair of Tourism.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Good 

13          morning -- good afternoon.  I just want to 

14          thank you for your responsiveness to me and 

15          my office -- {mic turned on}.  Oh, here it 

16          goes.  I want to thank you for your 

17          responsiveness.  

18                 I have a few short questions.  The 

19          first one will have to do with staffing.  

20          There are 14 additional FTEs in this budget, 

21          but there had been a decrease of 500 FTEs 

22          over the last decade.  And so my question 

23          both is is 14 enough, and where will they go, 

24          those 14?


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 1                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Those 14 are 

 2          actually on a federal grant, and will 

 3          primarily work on historic preservation 

 4          issues.  

 5                 And we could always, everybody could 

 6          always use more staff, but we are working 

 7          very efficiently and we have introduced -- I 

 8          guess necessity is the mother of invention 

 9          and efficiency.  We're trying to reduce our 

10          costs through automation, so that frees up 

11          more staff to do other things.  We're 

12          lowering our energy costs.  We're increasing 

13          the number of partnerships that we have with 

14          many local groups and concessionaires.  You 

15          know, if we have restaurants, they'll run the 

16          restaurants.  

17                 And we just did a deal with Major 

18          League Baseball at Roberto Clemente State 

19          Park, where they're going to run, for seven 

20          years, an academy of tutoring in baseball and 

21          softball for young boys and girls. 

22                 So we're leveraging our resources.  

23          And we are becoming more efficient.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Okay.  As you 


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 1          know, I was not a big fan of the trails that 

 2          we provided $200 million last year for.  My 

 3          issue is primarily the ones from Albany to 

 4          Buffalo are primarily state-owned or 

 5          local-government-owned properties, but the 

 6          ones between Albany and New York City are 

 7          not.  And so I know that you are acquiring 

 8          right-of-ways.  Do you have to pay for the 

 9          right-of-way?

10                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  No.  In fact, 

11          when we looked at -- last year we spent a lot 

12          of time in the field trying to find a route 

13          from New York City to Albany that would use 

14          existing municipal trails.  And with the 

15          exception of the one large long linear 

16          property that we acquired, almost all of it 

17          is publicly owned in one way or the other.  

18          We really tried to minimize private 

19          ownership.  And for the 31 miles that we 

20          acquired, we got a donation.  We kind of 

21          worked on it before we announced the route.

22                 So there will be some small 

23          connections, but a very small part of the 

24          trail.  And then the trail is about 


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 1          70 percent off-road, but then where there 

 2          weren't obvious off-road connections -- and 

 3          that's actually more from Albany to Canada -- 

 4          it's on-road using existing state bike 

 5          trails.

 6                 So we've minimized that.  So a very -- 

 7          it will be a de minimis amount of the cost 

 8          for land acquisition.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  So if it's 

10          possible, I would like you to inform me if 

11          any public funds are expended to obtain a 

12          right-of-way, and who is the recipient of 

13          that funding.

14                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I would be happy 

15          to.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Okay.

17                 Let me talk about the Connect for Kids 

18          program.  As you know, I represent a very 

19          urban environment.  And kids in New York City 

20          tend to be more disconnected from the great 

21          outdoors than, you know, people in the 

22          North Country like my husband.  So the 

23          question is is how are you doing outreach in 

24          the urban environments to ensure that both 


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 1          the schools and the teachers and the people 

 2          involved know of this program?  And, you 

 3          know, it's a lot harder -- if you live in 

 4          Glens Falls, to get access to a state park is 

 5          pretty easy.  If you live in Harlem, other 

 6          than Riverbank State Park, which I'm not 

 7          going to address with you, there's not really 

 8          that access.

 9                 So how is that working and where is it 

10          working in the City of New York?

11                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So first of all, 

12          we have targeted inner city communities.  And 

13          we've targeted those communities that have 

14          the least amount of open space -- high 

15          poverty, obesity, asthma, diabetes, health 

16          issues related to either a sedentary 

17          lifestyle or just not getting out into parks.

18                 So with respect to that, we also 

19          improved all our nature centers or our 

20          community centers that are nearer those 

21          communities, and then we launched 

22          Connect Kids.  And when we launched 

23          Connect Kids, we made busing available for 

24          those schools that couldn't take public 


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 1          transportation or, you know, it wouldn't 

 2          work.  And in the second year of this, we 

 3          have 60,000 additional kids now coming to all 

 4          those improved nature centers or recreational 

 5          centers.  And we also -- those are the ones 

 6          that we staff.  So that the teachers know 

 7          that there's somebody there that will give 

 8          the programming, so they'll be encouraged.  

 9          And we're now opening it up to summer camps.

10                 In New York City, we have the Taconic 

11          Outdoor Education Center.  Now, that's a long 

12          distance; it's probably 35 minutes north, 

13          45 minutes north of the city.  But we have 

14          two overnight programs.  And we have about 

15          10,000 kids, most of them from New York City, 

16          that go and use that.

17                 We also have Riverbank and Roberto 

18          Clemente that are in the heart of the city.  

19          We're working actually with buses, with the 

20          bus system, to get better bus service.  But 

21          actually at Riverbank, the bus stops in 

22          Riverbank now for the kids, which is good and 

23          bad in some ways.

24                 So we are doing everything possible to 


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 1          create the programs, create the atmosphere 

 2          and then provide the access.  And anything 

 3          you all can do -- and we do send this to your 

 4          offices, the applications and the programs -- 

 5          would be great, you know, to promote it.  

 6          Because you all make it happen --

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Well, the 

 8          second floor is not really noted for 

 9          cooperation with Assemblymembers.  But I 

10          would encourage you to do that, because the 

11          local people know where and how and who the 

12          people are.  And I'm not sure that most of my 

13          colleagues are fully aware that this program 

14          exists.  So I would encourage you to do that.

15                 Now let me talk a little bit about the 

16          Governor's budget speech, where he allocated 

17          $50 million to finish the Hudson River Park 

18          thing.  And it was almost laughable, the idea 

19          that $50 million would complete that park.  

20          Do you actually believe that?

21                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I do.  But I 

22          don't believe it's just the $50 million.  If 

23          you look at what is going to start this year 

24          at the Hudson River Park, you're going to see 


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 1          close to $500 million of work that's going 

 2          on with money that was previously allocated 

 3          and is now coming forward.  You've got the 

 4          $50 million, and we are looking for a 

 5          partnership with New York City as well.

 6                 And finally, there are some of the 

 7          places where an RFP and a private developer 

 8          could work as well.

 9                 So I think the combination of all of 

10          that really will result in the build-out of 

11          the Hudson River Park.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Well, many 

13          people who live adjacent to it simply think 

14          that's not enough.  And I'm not in a position 

15          to wager or say whether it is or it isn't, 

16          but it's a commonly held belief that that 

17          statement of the Governor was -- let's just 

18          say hyperbole.  Okay?

19                 So we're committed, we remain 

20          committed to finish that project, and it's 

21          very important to the Assembly.  I want to 

22          make sure that we actually get to do that.

23                 My last question has to do with 

24          Jamaica Bay State Park.  I was a little 


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 1          surprised to learn that this money is being 

 2          allocated for land that we don't own.  And I 

 3          was informed by you and your staff that 

 4          that's actually not uncommon, that there are 

 5          places where the state spends money where we 

 6          don't actually own the land.

 7                 So I would like to know where those 

 8          places are.  And, you know, I can tell you 

 9          when we try to allocate capital money for 

10          things in our districts, if it's not owned, 

11          you can't get any money.  So I'm trying to 

12          wrap my head around the idea, as much as this 

13          seems to be a beautiful place, to spend 

14          $15 million on land that we don't own.

15                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We will 

16          essentially get control of it.  And it's 

17          owned by the federal government.  And we will 

18          enter into an agreement whereby we have 

19          control over it, and then ultimately a lease.

20                 And we have done this with quite a 

21          few -- I mean, Four Freedoms State Park is a, 

22          you know, lease over land that's owned by the 

23          city.  Buffalo Harbor is -- actually the new 

24          state park is also a lease; the property is 


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 1          owned and operated by a subsidiary of ESD.  

 2          So we have -- we definitely have quite a few 

 3          case examples of it and --

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Well, can you 

 5          get me a list of them so I can read them and 

 6          understand them a little better?

 7                 And my real question has to do with 

 8          the expenditure of money before or after 

 9          getting control.  So if we're going to expend 

10          this money, is the time that we expend the 

11          money, is that after we've been given control 

12          or are we expending the money and then they 

13          give us control?

14                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  No.  We're 

15          working on deals right now to get control.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Okay.  Could I 

17          please get copies or information about that 

18          process?

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  And once 

21          again, I wasn't really on the record; I just 

22          want to thank you for being so accessible to 

23          me and my staff.  I very much appreciate it.  

24          Thank you.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And thank you 

 2          for all that you've done.

 3                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Krueger.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good afternoon, 

 5          Commissioner.  Nice to see you.

 6                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Good morning -- 

 7          afternoon.  

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So you talked about 

 9          the 14 additional FTEs from the federal 

10          grants being used for historic preservation.  

11          But our notes from Department of Budget is 

12          that they would be used for land and water 

13          conservation and the Great Lakes restoration.  

14          Are there two different 14 FTE assignments?

15                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  No.  Actually -- 

16          I don't want to admit this publicly -- I'm 

17          probably wrong.  I thought they were.  I'll 

18          check and I'll get back.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Okay, thank you.

20                 But following up on the historic 

21          properties -- and you talked about in your 

22          testimony the fact that the Governor's budget 

23          intends to defer the tax credits on historic 

24          property rehab.  I know that goes through the 


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 1          Tax Department, not you, but you referenced 

 2          the program in your testimony.  So I'm 

 3          wondering whether you are hearing, as at 

 4          least some of us are, that this deferral for 

 5          several years of the tax credit would cause 

 6          an enormous amount of problems out there in 

 7          communities.

 8                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  The five-year on 

 9          the federal tax credit would dramatically 

10          change also the state program, because we 

11          mirror or attach to it.

12                 So we are -- all of the tax credits 

13          and tax programs are all rolled together 

14          right now, but we have been working with 

15          Tax & Finance and, you know, suggesting 

16          provisions that would help ameliorate some of 

17          the reductions of the benefits caused by the 

18          federal program.  

19                 And also our state tax credits expire 

20          at the end of 2019, so it's the right time to 

21          start considering all of this to give 

22          investors assurance that it will go forward.

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So you think you 

24          have some ideas on how to fix this program?


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 1                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Well, the Parks, 

 2          Recreation and Historic Preservation do.  And 

 3          they -- again, all the tax provisions are 

 4          together, but they definitely have our ideas.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Jumping to another 

 6          urban park, the Hudson River Park in 

 7          Manhattan -- it's not technically in my 

 8          district, it's across the road, so to speak.  

 9          So the Governor talked about $50 million to 

10          help build out the remainder of the park.  I 

11          believe he talked about that 77 percent is 

12          complete, with 23 percent remaining.  I think 

13          the park's trustees say 30 percent remaining, 

14          and they believe they need $200 million.  

15                 But can you tell me what you're 

16          planning to do with the new $50 million 

17          commitment to the Hudson River Park?

18                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Pier 97, which 

19          is a very high priority for the community 

20          board, who has contacted us, will be the 

21          single largest expenditure.  And then 

22          Morton-Clarkston, bulkhead.  And 66A, a 

23          repair there.  Some environmental 

24          improvements, reefs and pilings being used as 


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 1          habitat.  And then a pedestrian walkway up 

 2          around 97, 98, which is on the upland portion 

 3          of it.  Those are the first thoughts on how 

 4          it would be used.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And does that go 

 6          through the process of the trustees deciding 

 7          what they prioritize or --

 8                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes.  Yes.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- does the state 

10          decide?

11                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes, absolutely, 

12          it will -- and it already has.  I mean, we've 

13          been working closely with them.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  What do you see -- 

15          at one point in time there was some giant 

16          amount for capital money needed by the parks?  

17          Where are we now on that giant amount versus 

18          what we're doing?

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We are -- it's 

20          amazingly positive.  We -- the Governor in 

21          2012 made $900 million available, much of 

22          that through the baseline of $90 million per 

23          year.  And we have spent, or it's in 

24          construction, about $700 million.  And you're 


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 1          really feeling it and you're really seeing 

 2          it.  

 3                 And we are focused on that platform of 

 4          the infrastructure, but also we had so many 

 5          boarded-up buildings and closed facilities, 

 6          and we're opening them up and then also 

 7          providing new buildings.  We're connecting 

 8          the parks so that we can automate, so we can 

 9          bring it back into the 21st -- bring it 

10          forward to the 21st century.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I'm out of time, but 

12          define "automating" parks?  

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Well -- no, no, 

14          fear not.  

15                 (Laughter.)

16                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It's -- if you 

17          think about Parks 2020, it's to restore its 

18          historic and its natural grandeur, but 

19          modernize it and make it more relevant.

20                 So with respect to automating, we're 

21          an all-cash system, so we can't -- we don't 

22          know who's coming, who's not coming.  So it's 

23          to have point of sale.  We're not connected, 

24          you know, just electric.  Just to use 


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 1          computers, connecting them, so that we can 

 2          come into the 21st century.  And also attract 

 3          concessions, you know, along the way.

 4                 So it's -- we have pay and display.  

 5          When you come into our parks, you had to wait 

 6          in line for cash.  So now our Empire 

 7          Passports that you can acquire have an RFID 

 8          chip so you can just go insert it and get 

 9          into our parks.  So they're more accessible, 

10          they're more easy.

11                 So -- but first and foremost is the 

12          land, the oceans, the forests, the history, 

13          the architecture, all of that. 

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Assemblyman 

16          Englebright.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Good 

18          morning, Commissioner.

19                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Good morning.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Or it's 

21          actually afternoon.

22                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I know, I 

23          can't --

24                 (Laughter.)


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  So I'm very 

 2          intrigued about the Jamaica Bay State Park.  

 3          As you know, when Robert Moses built the 

 4          circumferential parkway in 1938, he cut off 

 5          most of the city from this extraordinary 

 6          resource.  And it was only later that first 

 7          New York City and then the federal government 

 8          started to get involved.  But State Parks has 

 9          never been involved.  How did this come 

10          about?  Where is it?  How large is the 

11          parcel?  And who initiated this, was it from 

12          the feds or was it from your office?

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  No, it's really 

14          Governor Cuomo in his Vital Brooklyn 

15          initiative.  And in that initiative we work 

16          to provide better healthcare, affordable 

17          housing and open space.  And we're, through 

18          partnerships with the city, providing 

19          probably 10 acres of small 1-acre parcels in 

20          the neighborhoods where everybody lives, 

21          plays and works.  

22                 But the Governor was really interested 

23          in providing a real open space, a real park 

24          for Brooklyn, because there really isn't.  


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 1          The amount of vacant space was just small 

 2          pieces.

 3                 So it is in the northeast section of 

 4          Jamaica Bay.  And it's right across from 

 5          Kennedy.  It's 408 acres.  And it's owned by 

 6          the federal government because they acquired 

 7          it as just one of the parcels for Jamaica Bay 

 8          Recreational Area.  It is a landfill that was 

 9          formally capped and run and operated by 

10          New York City.  And it was one of the few --

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Is this the 

12          Fountain Avenue landfill?

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yeah, Penn and 

14          Fountain.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Okay.

16                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And it's 

17          beautiful.  And it was capped in a visionary 

18          way where they anticipated that this could be 

19          a park in the future back in the '90s, and so 

20          they capped it with a level of fill that's 

21          cleaner than any landfill anywhere in the 

22          country.  And they didn't put the methane 

23          pipes, they have manholes.  And it's 

24          extraordinary.  It's got 3.5 miles of 


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 1          shorefront, and it's fenced off.  

 2                 And we have a really great partnership 

 3          with the city, who is thrilled at this 

 4          thought, as we do with the federal -- with 

 5          the National Park Service, though they have 

 6          a, you know, long process.  So everybody is 

 7          for it.  There's a community.  All of the 

 8          community had always wanted it to be a park.  

 9          So the challenge will just be going through 

10          the processes to get it going.  

11                 And DEC actually regulated the 

12          landfill, and they've been at our side with 

13          all of that.  Department of Health has been 

14          at our side, reviewed everything.  It's a 

15          real clean slate of, you know, health.  It 

16          would be a -- really one of the first of its 

17          kind, and it would contribute mightily to 

18          those communities.  

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I 

20          congratulate you for being bold.  This is a 

21          huge portion of our New York City population 

22          that has been denied meaningful access except 

23          for a few occasions and circumstances.  But 

24          we'll follow this with great interest.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It may take a 

 2          little time to work it, yeah.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Of course it 

 4          will take time.  

 5                 But it's a fascinating new chapter in 

 6          State Parks history, as Jamaica Bay was for 

 7          the National Parks.  When Gateway was 

 8          invented, there was a great deal of 

 9          controversy.  And we don't need to go over it 

10          again now, but given that there had been such 

11          controversy, it's complimentary to your 

12          agency and to the Governor to be bold enough 

13          to step in this direction.  So I just want to 

14          compliment you there.

15                 Speaking of new directions, we had a 

16          resident curator program that we've talked 

17          about in the past and that you were in the 

18          process of implementing with new legislative 

19          authorization.  How is that doing?

20                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It's a great 

21          program.  And it's -- we still -- we had 

22          three possible candidates for it and put out 

23          an RFP.  We didn't get any responses, 

24          partially because two of the houses were 


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 1          pretty far gone, and so it required quite a 

 2          bit of investment.  And the notion of this 

 3          program is of a 40-year lease in return for 

 4          rehabilitating old and historic houses.

 5                 So we may try it again.  We went out 

 6          with the Susan B. Anthony.  We didn't get any 

 7          responses.  Thanks to Assemblywoman Woerner 

 8          and Senator Betty Little, they've given us 

 9          each 150, and we're going to put in 150, and 

10          we're going to fix it up and then go back out 

11          to see if we get it at a level where somebody 

12          would invest to finish it.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  So it's a 

14          work in progress.  That's encouraging also.

15                 Let me just say that the Empire State 

16          Trail is an interesting initiative also on a 

17          grand scale.  My concern is it had left out 

18          Long Island.  I just want to ask you again to 

19          try to factor Long Island into it as you 

20          flesh out that program.  We have a 

21          significant portion of the state's population 

22          that could be served by bringing the trail 

23          into the coastal New York area, not just down 

24          the Hudson Valley.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And know that we 

 2          are.  And we're busily also creating quite a 

 3          few bike trials from Jones Beach up to 

 4          Captree, all the way beyond, working with 

 5          DOT.  And we're going to look.  You know, 

 6          this is phase one.  Long Island will be phase 

 7          two.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Okay.  I'll 

 9          hold you to that.

10                 The Zoos, Botanical Gardens and 

11          Aquariums Program is basically a partnership 

12          program with the private not-for-profit parks 

13          of the state.  My urgent request is that you 

14          use your voice as part of the cabinet to help 

15          bring us back to the level that we had at the 

16          last -- in the current year, in the last 

17          budget.  So we're $2.5 million shy of that 

18          presently.  You don't need to respond, but 

19          please take that request back and see if you 

20          can help, as we go into the negotiations, to 

21          open the door toward restoring that level of 

22          funding.

23                 Finally, the 1500 new listings in the 

24          National Register.  You're the State Historic 


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 1          Preservation Officer, you oversee that.  

 2          Congratulations, that's wonderful.

 3                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And I reflect it 

 4          back to our amazing Historic Preservation 

 5          Bureau.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Which is a 

 7          national model.  So thank you for the good 

 8          work that you do.

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you, 

10          Commissioner, for being here today, for your 

11          testimony, and for the good working 

12          relationship that many of us have with your 

13          office.

14                 A couple of questions of local concern 

15          to me.  We've worked for several years now on 

16          Sampson State Park.  Can you give us an 

17          update?  Is there any money in the budget 

18          this year for improvements to that marina 

19          facility there?  

20                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes.  We -- that 

21          marina is, as you know, in a serious state of 

22          disrepair.  So we did do a second RFP, and 

23          we're going to put up to $2.5 million in 

24          infrastructure improvements.  And we did get 


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 1          a bid.  And we're hoping that that would work 

 2          out and then that the bidder would finish it 

 3          and basically completely refurbish it, and 

 4          also some cabins in the area.  

 5                 And we have not yet taken it through 

 6          the Comptroller and the Attorney General for 

 7          their approval, but we're working on it.  

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  When do you expect 

 9          that part of the process to start?

10                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We're trying to 

11          move this.  So probably -- I'm hoping by the 

12          fall we'll get in, and maybe sooner.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, is that going 

14          to require any special legislation for the 

15          length of the lease involved there?  Have we 

16          done that already?

17                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  No.  I mean yes.  

18          The -- I do believe we need a 40-year lease 

19          on the Seneca Lake, because it's two, it's 

20          been packaged, Sampson and Seneca.  And I do 

21          believe that legislation has been introduced 

22          or will be introduced.  So we do need that 

23          for this bid to go forward.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  I'll look for 


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 1          that and work on that together with you.

 2                 Seemingly a lot of progress at Watkins 

 3          Glen State Park over the last two years.  And 

 4          our status is supposed to be opening this 

 5          spring.  Can you give us a final update on 

 6          where we are there?

 7                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes.  I'm so 

 8          excited, we're going to open this spring.  

 9          We've completely redone the traffic and the 

10          circulation with the town, moved all the -- 

11          bought five houses, tiny little houses, and 

12          put the parking across the street.  We've 

13          entirely greened the entrance.  We're going 

14          to reopen the old Indian trail that is pretty 

15          famous.  We are going into partnership with 

16          the Tourism Bureau, and they're going to 

17          actually have an office there.  And we're 

18          also going to -- with a little extra money 

19          that we're trying to actually fund raise for, 

20          we will also fix that concession stand so 

21          that we can have better concession.  

22                 So it's magnificent.  So I hope all of 

23          you are there when we open.  It's been a 

24          long, long multifaceted project.  


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 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  A multiyear process, 

 2          but glad it's coming to an end and it's on 

 3          schedule.

 4                 You mentioned in your opening remarks 

 5          about the rainy season we had, in particular 

 6          the flooding along Lake Ontario.  And that 

 7          obviously is an area of questioning we were 

 8          on earlier.  But can you summarize for us the 

 9          impacts to the state parks along the shore of 

10          Lake Ontario because of the flooding of last 

11          year?  In particular, you know, on the 

12          eastern end where it affected Fair Haven, 

13          Mexico Point, Chimney Bluffs -- which is a 

14          very unique area, and I'm not sure what the 

15          extent of damage might have been there -- and 

16          then, in particular, Sandy Island Beach, on 

17          the eastern shore at Sandy Pond, because I 

18          personally witnessed the devastation there of 

19          about -- of the entire beach being taken out 

20          in roughly an 8-foot sheer drop-off from what 

21          used to be beach right down to the water 

22          level.  

23                 So what efforts are being undertaken 

24          at the Sandy Island Beach, in addition to 


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 1          those others?

 2                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So when you 

 3          think about it and you think about how many 

 4          parks we have along the lake, we're the first 

 5          line of defense.  And so it's good that we 

 6          take most of the brunt of it, because often 

 7          we're in front of any of the homes.  And we 

 8          took most of the brunt.  And we've invested 

 9          about $2 million to fix up, to restore.  And 

10          also, at Fort Niagara, that too was -- all 

11          the break wall was damaged.  

12                 And so -- and we will invest more.  

13          And they're, you know, back in shape.  We've 

14          lost -- you know, it waxes and wanes with the 

15          water levels, you know, some of the amount of 

16          sand.  But we're -- and then we opened all of 

17          them or most of them last summer, and we're 

18          ready to open this summer.  

19                 And as well, we're mindful of where we 

20          are in front of some of the communities, so 

21          we've built up some dunes to protect them as 

22          well if there is, you know, future flooding.  

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  The $2 million you 

24          mentioned, was that just at Sandy Island or 


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 1          was that --

 2                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  That was both 

 3          the Fort and Sandy Island.  And then small -- 

 4          smaller repairs to docks and boat launches 

 5          and so forth and so on throughout.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Are there additional 

 7          repairs or infrastructure repairs or 

 8          waterfront repairs needed throughout this 

 9          next season?

10                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  There -- I mean, 

11          you know, a lot we did with our own people, 

12          who are pretty good at holding together this 

13          park system.  But there are probably some 

14          small ones, but I think -- but I will 

15          check -- in terms of, you know, this covers 

16          the magnitude of the damage.  But I'll check.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

19          Woerner.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Thank you.

21                 Thank you, Commissioner, for your 

22          testimony here.  

23                 I'd like to start by just saying thank 

24          you so much for the investment in the 


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 1          Peerless Pool and for your continued support 

 2          of the Susan B. Anthony House, both projects 

 3          that I think will make a real difference in 

 4          my district.

 5                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  And thank you 

 6          for your help on them.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  It's a 

 8          partnership, yes. 

 9                 I want to talk about the historic 

10          preservation tax credits.  Saratoga Springs, 

11          which I represent, is in many ways the city 

12          that tax credits and historic preservation 

13          really saved.  And so I'm -- the credits, as 

14          you know, expire next year and there's about, 

15          as I understand it, about $6 billion in 

16          projects currently in the pipeline.  And 

17          there's some concern that the -- that if we 

18          don't take the step to assure the 

19          continuation of this program in advance of 

20          the expiration, that that will introduce 

21          uncertainty into the development process and 

22          those will -- those projects will start to 

23          evaporate.  

24                 Can you reflect a little bit on that?


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 1                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  There always is 

 2          concern.  Certainty will, you know, help 

 3          investors go forward.  And so that -- we all 

 4          know that, and that's what has to be figured 

 5          in to any bill that goes forward.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Terrific.

 7                 New York is the leader in the nation 

 8          in attracting outside investment for 

 9          rehabilitation tax credit programs, which is 

10          a tremendous economic development, 

11          particularly for upstate.  What else could we 

12          do with these tax credit programs to make it 

13          an even more attractive program for investors 

14          to invest in upstate New York rehabilitation 

15          projects?

16                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I think the 

17          three biggest is extend for five years.  

18          Decouple from the federal program so it just 

19          stands on its own.  

20                 Also is tinkering a bit with the 

21          census tracts.  Because, you know, the 

22          investment's tied to the census tracts, the 

23          census just came in.  And some will fall out, 

24          some won't.  And it's to at least give people 


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 1          time if they're going to fall out, and it's 

 2          based on the median income.

 3                 Then there's transferability, which is 

 4          enabling investors to transfer the credits.  

 5          That adds more flexibility and also could 

 6          bring not-for-profits that could do the work 

 7          into the mix.

 8                 There's also -- but here you're 

 9          getting into, you know, costs.  But obviously 

10          our current state historic tax credits are 

11          20 percent, you know, capped at 5 million.  

12          Maybe in some of those smaller projects, to 

13          encourage people to go forward, you could, 

14          you know, raise the rate for smaller ones.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Right.

16                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  There are a lot 

17          of small things that you could do that would 

18          enhance it, but obviously also the cost is -- 

19          needs to be figured in.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Right.  So on 

21          that point, if we were to extend the tax 

22          credits at this point for another five years, 

23          which I think takes it out to 2025, decouple 

24          it from the federal program, tweak the census 


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 1          tracts a little bit, and add transferability, 

 2          that doesn't have a fiscal impact in the 

 3          current -- in the coming fiscal year or even 

 4          out the next couple fiscal years, does it?

 5                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  It does not have 

 6          any significant fiscal impact.  Nothing new.  

 7          Assuming that the program goes forward, no.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  So this would 

 9          be a way to create economic activity, 

10          economic development, particularly in our 

11          older upstate cities without having to add 

12          additional burden to the state budget.

13                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes.  Yes.  No 

14          new costs, yeah.  No -- I should say no -- 

15          you know, I'm sure there's some costs, but no 

16          significant new costs.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WOERNER:  Terrific.  

18          Thank you very much.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

20          Jenne.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Yes, thank you.  

22                 How are you this morning -- afternoon, 

23          sorry.

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Good, yeah.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I just wanted to 

 2          touch on the flooding that we had last 

 3          spring.  And, you know, while I represent 

 4          mainly the St. Lawrence River, we were 

 5          impacted as well.  And I just wanted to make 

 6          sure that all repairs of damage to those 

 7          parks along the St. Lawrence River had been 

 8          adequately addressed.

 9                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes, they have 

10          been.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  And as -- 

12          you know, one of our biggest problems was 

13          that our docks were underwater, and I 

14          wondered if repairs had been made to raise 

15          docks or to put in floating docks in places 

16          where, you know, standard docks are expected 

17          to be flooded again this year.  I expect 

18          water levels will be higher than normal for 

19          the -- forever.  And that, you know, we'll be 

20          making those types of plans as well.

21                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  With all of our 

22          capital improvements that's what we're trying 

23          to do, is to, you know, look at rising water 

24          and any, you know, climate change, whatever 


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 1          it may be, and think about adjusting for the 

 2          future.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  Has there 

 4          been any thought put into advertising dollars 

 5          to try to help bolster those communities that 

 6          have been impacted by the flooding and maybe 

 7          we've seen patrons go away?  Are we able to 

 8          tap any of those kind of advertising dollars 

 9          to try to help the communities that suffered 

10          last year and are likely to suffer again this 

11          year?

12                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  We tap in 

13          mightily to I Love New York.  And we should 

14          talk to them, that's a good idea --

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Yeah, it would 

16          be cool if the Thousand Islands region could 

17          get a shout-out, because we oftentimes get 

18          the short end of the stick in terms of 

19          advertising dollars to begin with.  While we 

20          don't have the state's population base, we 

21          certainly do host the state during the summer 

22          months --

23                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  You do, yes.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  And so it would 


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 1          be great to make sure everyone knows we're 

 2          open for business in the Thousand Islands 

 3          region as well.

 4                 In terms of the investment in trails, 

 5          my area hosts a lot of bikers as well, 

 6          cyclists.  And it would be great if we were 

 7          included in phase 2 -- certainly, if not 

 8          phase 2, phase 3 of investments in our trail 

 9          systems.  Our chambers of commerce in our 

10          area try to market our existing trail 

11          systems, but if we could be included in the 

12          state's, you know, I guess trails maps and 

13          systems, that would be great as well.

14                 I had some firefighters ask me the 

15          other day what was going on with the rumors 

16          they heard that as a benefit to try to 

17          attract and retain volunteer firefighters, 

18          that they would be entitled to some sort of 

19          state park pass.  I really hadn't heard much 

20          about that.  And so since you're sitting 

21          here -- I don't know if that's on your radar 

22          or if anyone has brought that up to your 

23          attention, that there seems to be rumors 

24          throughout the volunteer firefighter service 


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 1          that that may be in the works.

 2                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  That what is in 

 3          the works?

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  That if you're a 

 5          volunteer firefighter, that you might be 

 6          entitled to certain state park passes?

 7                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I don't know 

 8          about it.  I'll look into it.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Well, I just 

10          heard about it as well, so we're learning 

11          about it at the same time.  And, you know, if 

12          there was the ability to do something like 

13          that, that would certainly be wonderful for 

14          the few fire volunteers that we have left, to 

15          support them.

16                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yes.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  And it was 

18          mentioned by one of my colleagues, you know, 

19          that sometimes we're able to support capital 

20          projects in our districts.  You know, I tried 

21          to support a local land conservancy that was 

22          creating a trail system, a multi-use, fully 

23          accessible trail system.  And oftentimes 

24          those types of organizations are good 


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 1          partners around our state park systems.  

 2                 And I was shocked to find out that 

 3          even though land conservancies are listed as 

 4          an entity that, as members of the 

 5          Legislature, we can try to support with 

 6          capital dollars -- that the concept that I 

 7          would have multicounty land conservancies and 

 8          them be outside the jurisdiction of a local 

 9          government -- are ineligible to receive those 

10          capital funds.  

11                 And so as we're trying to in the 

12          Legislature partner with recreational and, 

13          you know, green space organizations 

14          throughout the state, that if you're not just 

15          a little zoo somewhere, that you're not, you 

16          know, considered eligible.  So --

17                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  I think actually 

18          land conservancies are eligible for our 

19          municipal grants.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Well, DASNY 

21          doesn't feel that way.  They rejected me like 

22          two weeks ago.  So there seems to maybe be 

23          some communication issues.  If that could get 

24          resolved -- this is my first opportunity to 


                                                                   235

 1          bring it up -- that they didn't seem to think 

 2          that my land conservancy was eligible.  

 3                 So we run into those problems, and 

 4          it's quite upsetting that we can't be fuller 

 5          partners here in the Legislature with our 

 6          efforts to protect green space and have the 

 7          public be -- have access to it.  

 8                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  So we will get 

 9          right back to you --

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.  

11          Appreciate it.

12                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  -- because I do 

13          know that you are eligible for our -- or they 

14          are, not-for-profits are.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  The list gets 

16          smaller and smaller each year of eligible 

17          entities.  So it's -- when you have the rug 

18          pulled out from underneath you, it's quite 

19          upsetting, so ...  

20                 Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  I 

22          think that's it for questions from the 

23          members.

24                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Thank you very 


                                                                   236

 1          much.  

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thanks for all 

 4          your support.  You can have a slower exit 

 5          than your entrance.

 6                 COMMISSIONER HARVEY:  Yeah.

 7                 (Laughter.)

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Next up is our 

 9          Agriculture and Markets commissioner, 

10          Richard Ball.  

11                 Commissioner?  

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good afternoon.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you for being 

14          here.

15                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  It's a pleasure to 

16          be here.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  You may proceed.  

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes, thank you.

19                 Chairwoman Weinstein, Assemblyman 

20          Magee, members of the agricultural committees 

21          and elected officials, I am happy to offer my 

22          testimony on the 2018-2019 Executive Budget 

23          for the Department of Agriculture and 

24          Markets.  


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 1                 The Executive Budget recommends 

 2          $162 million for the department.  This will 

 3          allow us to maintain our core functions while 

 4          advancing key initiatives that support the 

 5          agricultural industry and grow our food and 

 6          beverage sectors.  

 7                 Even with federal uncertainty, we have 

 8          one of the strongest grower communities in 

 9          the nation.  Our nearly 36,000 farms not only 

10          increased production in 2017 for several 

11          commodities, but also implemented major 

12          environmental protections.  With the 

13          Governor's support and partnerships with all 

14          of you, we have a great foundation to build 

15          on our progress.  

16                 I am very proud of our support of the 

17          Governor's No Student Goes Hungry initiative. 

18          A big part of that effort is doubling funding 

19          for our Farm-to-School program, which ensures 

20          healthy local food access to our young 

21          people.  The Executive Budget provides even 

22          greater resources, allowing us to expand our 

23          reach to hundreds of thousands of additional 

24          students.  


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 1                 The Governor has also proposed a 

 2          significant increase in reimbursements for 

 3          schools that source at least 30 percent of 

 4          their food from New York farms.  That will 

 5          have a big impact on our schools, our 

 6          children, and our farmers.  

 7                 Thanks to the record funding for 

 8          agricultural education that you approved last 

 9          year, thousands of students now have access 

10          to in-class edible gardens and hands-on 

11          agricultural lessons.  In addition, 

12          84 schools were awarded grants to start or 

13          advance agricultural education programs 

14          across the state.  

15                 The New York State Grown & Certified 

16          program now has more than 100 producers 

17          participating, who together operate nearly 

18          50,000 acres.  In addition, nine major dairy 

19          processors also represent nearly 1,400 

20          New York dairy farms.  We have expanded the 

21          program to include many new commodities and 

22          partnered with several large retailers to 

23          showcase these products in stores.  

24                 The Governor's Taste NY program 


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 1          continues to grow as well.  Sales topped 

 2          $16 million last year, and we are on track to 

 3          do even better in 2018.  The Executive Budget 

 4          further expands opportunities to connect 

 5          local entrepreneurs with consumers and to 

 6          increase the visibility of their products in 

 7          major transportation hubs.  

 8                 Our Industrial Hemp program boasts 

 9          over 2,000 acres dedicated to innovative 

10          research.  Tomorrow, we are hosting an 

11          Industrial Hemp Research Forum, connecting 

12          researchers, academics, businesses, and 

13          processors to improve and broaden the 

14          program.  In addition, a $2 million 

15          investment in seed certification and breeding 

16          will support the development of unique hemp 

17          varieties best suited for New York's growing 

18          conditions.  

19                 We also look forward to hosting two 

20          new summits, one focused on wood products and 

21          the other focused on Concord grapes.  The 

22          goal is to bring stakeholders together to 

23          identify challenges and to develop solutions 

24          to support these commodities.  


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 1                 Investments in the Great New York 

 2          State Fair led to new attendance records and 

 3          more sales of New York milk, maple and 

 4          potatoes than ever before.  Construction of 

 5          the new 136,000-square-foot Expo Center is 

 6          underway and on track to be completed for 

 7          this year's State Fair.  

 8                 Protecting the environment remains a 

 9          top priority of the Governor's.  This year's 

10          EPF includes $20 million for farmland 

11          protection, $17 million for agricultural 

12          water quality projects, and $10 million for 

13          our Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  

14                 From preserving our natural resources 

15          to supporting economic development through 

16          the promotion of our high-quality 

17          agricultural products, the Executive Budget 

18          moves our ag industry forward.  I understand 

19          developing the final state budget is a 

20          collaboration with you, the Legislature, and 

21          we look forward to hearing your priorities as 

22          well.  

23                 Thank you.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.


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 1                 We're going to go to the Assembly's 

 2          Agriculture chair, Assemblyman Magee, for 

 3          some questions.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Commissioner, good 

 5          to see you again --

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good to see you, 

 7          sir.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  -- be with you 

 9          again as we talk about issues important to 

10          agriculture in the state, our number-one 

11          industry.  So welcome this afternoon.

12                 Commissioner, I've got a couple of 

13          questions here.  The concentrated animal 

14          feeding operations, CAFOs, the Clean Water 

15          Infrastructure Act of 2017 included 

16          $50 million for concentrated animal feeding 

17          operations.  What is the status of that 

18          funding, and what steps has the department 

19          taken to ensure that this funding is directed 

20          towards financially vulnerable operations?  

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you for the 

22          question.  

23                 We're actually in a very good place 

24          there.  As you know, we have $50 million to 


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 1          work with.  We're going to roll that out in 

 2          three different phases.  The first phase was 

 3          rolled out last fall, and we made awards in 

 4          December.  We'll do another rollout in the 

 5          second round this spring, and we'll do a 

 6          third round later this summer -- late summer, 

 7          early fall.  

 8                 So I believe in the first round we had 

 9          a little over almost $30 million that went 

10          out into the program.  We did review all the 

11          applications that came in.  As you know, 

12          hardship and financial concerns were a part 

13          of the application process.  But it was very 

14          well-executed, and happy to say a pretty good 

15          start to a great program.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Another area, the 

17          Executive proposal would decrease Aid to 

18          Localities funding for the department by 

19          $11.48 million from the 2017-2018 level.  

20          What effect will these reductions have on 

21          many programs being cut, like the Farm 

22          Viability Institute, Cornell Veterinary 

23          Diagnostic Lab, and rabies and pro-dairy 

24          programs and the state's apple growers?


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you for 

 2          that.  

 3                 Well, as you know, this is a process.  

 4          I was very pleased to see that in the 

 5          Governor's proposed budget, it's virtually 

 6          identical to our budget last year.  I fully 

 7          respect the process, and I understand the 

 8          budget is -- the Executive Budget is the 

 9          Governor's opportunity to lay out his 

10          priorities.  And then as we go through the 

11          process, you as the Legislature, representing 

12          constituents with varying degrees of 

13          importance in your own community, have an 

14          opportunity to weigh in.  And we fully look 

15          forward to working with you to, you know, do 

16          just that.

17                 So those dollars that you mentioned 

18          represent the legislative adds for last year.  

19          Look forward to working with you on that 

20          process.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Okay.  And now, in 

22          another area, the market orders.  The 

23          Executive proposes permanently transferring 

24          the administration of agriculture and dairy 


                                                                   244

 1          marketing orders to Empire State Development 

 2          Corporation.  Has the department received 

 3          complaints from the marketing order boards 

 4          related to the administration of their farms?

 5                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I think there was 

 6          last year, before we undertook this, there 

 7          was some apprehension.  But I have to say 

 8          that the transition has been relatively 

 9          seamless.  There's been some conversations 

10          with ESD, and President Zemsky and I are 

11          talking fairly frequently about this.  And he 

12          in no way wants to step on our toes.  And 

13          they're the money folks.  We're still 

14          involved in all the programmatic efforts of 

15          all the marketing orders.  And I would say 

16          it's been a good move.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Another area was 

18          the migrant workers childcare program.  

19          Funding for the childcare for migrant workers 

20          was reduced by $1 million last year.  What 

21          impact will this reduction have on the 

22          program?

23                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Actually, again, 

24          that was a legislative add.  I have actually 


                                                                   245

 1          met with ABCD migrant daycare center 

 2          yesterday.  I encouraged them to invite our 

 3          national congress, before they debate the 

 4          immigration bill or DACA, to come visit one 

 5          of our centers.  And I recommended Batavia.  

 6          And that it might take the edge off some of 

 7          the conversations that are going on around 

 8          the guest worker and immigration challenges.  

 9                 It's a wonderful program, and I 

10          certainly hope that you all look at it 

11          finally, and I look forward to working with 

12          you on that.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Okay.  Now, in 

14          another area, the local fairs and animal 

15          shelters.  

16                 The state fiscal year 2017-2018 

17          enacted budget included capital funding for 

18          local fairs and for animal shelters.  Have 

19          these funds be been released?  Why does the 

20          Executive proposal eliminate this funding?

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Actually, the 

22          funds have been released.  They're out.  The 

23          county fairs, this is the second year they've 

24          gotten the funding.  And all we're hearing is 


                                                                   246

 1          that it's working very well and they'd like 

 2          more.

 3                 We also -- the animal shelter/ 

 4          companion animal money went out today.  

 5          Awards have been made.  There was $5 million 

 6          that we had to disburse, and I think 

 7          $13 million worth of requests came into us.  

 8          So clearly it was a sensitive subject, and 

 9          one that's much appreciated and 

10          oversubscribed.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  By the way of your 

12          comments, I recently visited the State Fair, 

13          and that is really going to be a great 

14          facility there with all this capital work 

15          that's being done on the fair.

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Food safety, the 

18          Executive proposal includes $2.6 million to 

19          modernize the food safety inspection system.  

20          Can you please describe how this funding will 

21          be utilized?  Are revenues from penalties 

22          expected to increase?

23                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  We do not 

24          anticipate increasing penalties at all.


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 1                 You know, over the past several years 

 2          we have been careful with our budget and had 

 3          flat budgets.  So we look to have Lean 

 4          programs that analyze the way we do things, 

 5          the way we service the industry.

 6                 And typically a Lean program brings us 

 7          to an IT solution.  And in this case with our 

 8          food safety people, this new IT solution will 

 9          allow us to save one man-hour for one 

10          inspector every single day.  So it's going to 

11          make us a lot more efficient and able to 

12          serve our industry in a much better way.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  And one last 

14          question about ag educators.  

15                 The department has stated that it 

16          plans to double the number of ag educators.  

17          What is the current status of this?  And 

18          funding for this program was cut by $113,000.  

19          Is the department concerned about its ability 

20          to increase the number of ag educators?

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I feel okay about 

22          the funding.  We had -- last year's was a 

23          record amount of money, which was quite a bit 

24          more than the year before.  And this year's 


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 1          funding is still more than two years ago.  So 

 2          I think we're in good shape there.  

 3                 The initial shot of money helped us 

 4          jump-start that program.  We have 28 more ag 

 5          teachers in place than we did last year, and 

 6          we trained over 105 people, sent them to 

 7          advanced learning conferences, et cetera, and 

 8          another 15 to different kinds of training.  

 9          So I think we're well on our way to achieving 

10          our goal of doubling the number of ag 

11          teachers.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN MAGEE:  Very good.  That's 

13          all the questions I have.  And again, thank 

14          you, Commissioner, for all you do for the 

15          agriculture community.

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  It's great to work 

17          with you.  Thank you, sir.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

19                 Senate?  

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Ritchie.

21                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Thank you.

22                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good to see you.

23                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  You too, 

24          Commissioner.


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 1                 I'd like to just start off by saying 

 2          how much I appreciate the working 

 3          relationship that we have and the 

 4          relationship that we have with your office.  

 5          It certainly makes discussing issues so much 

 6          easier.  You've been very attentive.  So I 

 7          want to start off by saying that.

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

 9                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  And then I'll get 

10          into following up on Assemblyman Magee's 

11          question.  Every year when the budget comes 

12          out, the critical programs for the 

13          agriculture industry are continually cut 

14          back.  And in the eight years that I've been 

15          here, it leaves very little room for us to 

16          expand on some of the priorities that we have 

17          in the Senate.  Because by the time we fill 

18          back in the local assistance programs, the 

19          price tag is so extensive it makes it 

20          difficult.

21                 That being said, I believe those 

22          programs are critically important to the 

23          industry.  So can you just kind of explain 

24          how the Executive gets to the number when it 


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 1          comes to local assistance programs?

 2                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  Thank you 

 3          for that.  I appreciable your concern on the 

 4          subject.

 5                 You know, as I mentioned with 

 6          Assemblyman Magee, I've come to recognize 

 7          that this is a process.  You know, this is -- 

 8          since my role as commissioner began, I'm now 

 9          in my fifth year, the budget -- I have a lot 

10          of respect for the budget and the process 

11          that we get into.  Facing a budget deficit 

12          this year like we did with a $4 billion 

13          deficit before we got started -- and who 

14          knows what the total bill will be at the end 

15          of Washington's implementation of the Tax Cut 

16          and Jobs Act.  We looked at our budget this 

17          year, and the Governor gave us basically a 

18          level budget as last year.  He has come in 

19          with his Executive Budget the same as last 

20          year.  

21                 You all represent parts of our state, 

22          industries, and the needs change out there in 

23          the marketplace and in your country, and the 

24          opportunity to discuss all the legislative 


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 1          adds is a process.  And I respect that, and I 

 2          certainly look forward to working with you on 

 3          it, and I understand your concern there.

 4                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Can you tell me 

 5          under -- it's under the ESD budget -- what 

 6          the $27.3 million is for Grown and Certified?

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Grown and 

 8          Certified, that really includes an awful lot 

 9          in there, because that includes an awful lot 

10          of soil and water work as well.  It's kind of 

11          lumped together.  It's a conglomeration of 

12          several different funding sources that 

13          actually lead and help a producer to become 

14          grown and certified.  

15                 So there's funding in there for good 

16          agricultural practices training -- that is 

17          helping food safety training on the farm, 

18          reimbursements for the costs of doing that.  

19          There's funding in there for some of our soil 

20          and water work with regards to our 

21          agricultural environmental management plans, 

22          our AEM plans, and the soil and water work 

23          that gets done across the state in each 

24          county.  It's not really marketing money, 


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 1          that's really money to support our farmers 

 2          doing a better job in the environment and a 

 3          better job with food safety.

 4                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  The 27.3, is that an 

 5          increase from last year or is that a new 

 6          allocation?

 7                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  No, that's just 

 8          the sum total of those projects with soil and 

 9          water.  There is $1 million more in there for 

10          our soil and water districts than there was 

11          last year.

12                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Then I'll move on to 

13          Cornell.  You know, one of the things we 

14          always talk about is how lucky we are in 

15          New York State because of Cornell and the 

16          critical research that they provide farmers 

17          across the state.  They're kind of our -- I 

18          would say our shining star or our ace in the 

19          hole.

20                 So can you tell me if you believe 

21          Cornell is getting funded to the level that 

22          it should be?  I continually hear that the 

23          buildings and the labs there need to be 

24          upgraded, and there's an issue with staffing 


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 1          levels.  I just want to make sure that we're 

 2          holding Cornell's funding level to the level 

 3          where they can continue to help our farmers 

 4          compete across the country.

 5                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.  Great 

 6          question.  And I have to say it's great to 

 7          have the partnership we have with Cornell and 

 8          our cooperative extension system.

 9                 I have to tell you, a few years ago I 

10          was asked to do a little homework for the 

11          Governor and look at who has the best 

12          agricultural extension program in the country 

13          and how we might improve.  And it came back 

14          to New York State has the best cooperative 

15          extension system in the country.

16                 Certainly we value that partnership.  

17          And I have to say that you participated -- 

18          last fall we did some farm bill listening 

19          sessions, and we identified research, ongoing 

20          research for agriculture as a priority in 

21          those sessions.  I heard that in every 

22          session we held.  The United States is 

23          currently being outspent by two countries 

24          two-to-one in the realm of research in 


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 1          agriculture:  Brazil and China.  So we need 

 2          to keep up the work here that we do.  And 

 3          it's been much more challenging for Cornell 

 4          to compete with those federal dollars as well 

 5          as all the other dollars that are out there.  

 6                 I think in New York we're doing the 

 7          best we can.  We certainly have -- I don't 

 8          think we've ever had a better relationship 

 9          with our partners at Cornell than we have 

10          today, and we value that.  Is there more 

11          funding to be had for them?  There's always a 

12          need.  We were able to help with the nematode 

13          lab for potatoes, we found some funding there 

14          through USDA, et cetera, et cetera.  So we 

15          work just as hard as they do to try to find 

16          more funding.

17                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  And moving on to the 

18          capital funding for our agricultural fairs.  

19          I know when you said there's still more need 

20          there, that's what I hear pretty much from 

21          all of them.  

22                 But one of the issues that I have 

23          heard repeatedly for a lot of our small 

24          county fairs, the resources they were 


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 1          requesting were for water and sewer issues.  

 2          And apparently, however, as the statute was 

 3          drafted, it excluded bathrooms if they 

 4          weren't attached to the actual ag building.  

 5                 So can we find a way to address that?

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I think that's a 

 7          great suggestion, because water at facilities 

 8          at our state -- at all our fairs is pretty 

 9          important.

10                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Right.  And then my 

11          last question is really a question that has 

12          to do with a federal issue, but it's 

13          something that's extremely important here in 

14          New York State to the industry.  

15                 Our dairy farmers are really facing 

16          some tough times.  Year after year, the milk 

17          prices are down substantially.  A lot of the 

18          dairy farmers are just barely hanging on.  Is 

19          there anything at the state level that can be 

20          done to help the dairy industry?

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes, thank you for 

22          that.  Our dairy industry is really in a very 

23          precarious state today.  You know, typically 

24          in dairy we've seen a cycle, a three-year 


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 1          cycle of ups and downs that everybody kind of 

 2          got familiar with and comfortable with and 

 3          learned to work around.  But we've had a 

 4          prolonged -- rather than a stab, I would say 

 5          a long scrape over the last three years for 

 6          the dairy industry.  And originally 

 7          predictions for this year looked a little 

 8          better, but just in the last couple of months 

 9          it's looking like more of the same.  

10                 It is very challenging.  We have got a 

11          list of things that we're working on.  We put 

12          resource guides together for our farms.  As 

13          you know, the challenge here isn't so much 

14          something that we're doing wrong in 

15          New York -- because this is not just a 

16          New York problem, not just a Northeast 

17          problem, not just a United States problem, 

18          it's actually a global challenge as we see 

19          exports drop.  

20                 I was at the Ag Outlook Conference in 

21          Cornell just a couple of weeks ago, and 

22          looking back over the last 30 years, whenever 

23          we've seen a drop in dairy exports we've seen 

24          a corresponding drop in milk pricing.  And 


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 1          over the last almost four years now, we've 

 2          seen a 3 percent drop in our exports.  

 3          There's a lot of factors at work here -- the 

 4          value of our dollar with regards to other 

 5          nations, what kind of year Australia and 

 6          New Zealand and the European Union had, how 

 7          much milk China is buying.  

 8                 All of these things are factors.  And 

 9          of course it's hard to ignore the fact that 

10          25 percent of our dairy exports go to Mexico, 

11          and we're now engaged in conversations with 

12          Mexico and Canada about trade.  All these 

13          things are kind of coming together.  

14                 What we can do in New York State -- 

15          and we are doing everything we can.  We stay 

16          in touch with our co-ops on a regular basis.  

17          I pulled together the Milk Marketing Advisory 

18          Committee -- which is our co-ops, our 

19          processors, it's our farmers, it's 

20          Farm Bureau, it's Cornell, it's even our 

21          customers -- and we talk about the issue.  

22          And one of the brightest things that we 

23          identified in our last meeting was that we 

24          need more capacity in the state, what we call 


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 1          a balancing plan, things to take fluid milk 

 2          and turn it into shelf-stable products like 

 3          dry powder, the cheeses, et cetera.  

 4                 So we identified that as our priority, 

 5          we went after that, we worked very closely 

 6          with our partners at Empire State Development 

 7          and we invested last year in a number of new 

 8          plants and rehabbing old plants to make them 

 9          more modern and help us increase that 

10          capacity.  

11                 So there's a lot of things we're 

12          working on.  I am confident that we're going 

13          to be okay in the long term, because we still 

14          make the best milk in the country right here 

15          in New York.  The North Country in particular 

16          is famous for the quality of cheese and the 

17          quantity and quality of milk that we can 

18          produce.  And we still have the biggest and 

19          the most marvelous marketplace at our 

20          doorstep.  

21                 So we've got a whole list of things 

22          that we need to do to help our farmers.  But 

23          thank you for that question.  

24                 SENATOR RITCHIE:  Thank you, 


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 1          Commissioner.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 3                 Assemblywoman Jenne.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.  Good 

 5          afternoon, Commissioner.

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good afternoon.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  First, I will 

 8          begin by saying although like my colleagues, 

 9          you know, we're always upset to see our local 

10          projects get cut out of the ag budget, I will 

11          tell you I was thrilled to see the Governor 

12          make such a strong commitment to Farm to 

13          School in this year's proposal.  It is an 

14          issue that, as you know, is near and dear to 

15          my heart, and I've been working in my region 

16          to pilot a Farm to School program.  And so 

17          I've got a lot of lessons learned that I hope 

18          I will be able to share as this program moves 

19          along.  

20                 But I have found that it has had a 

21          tremendous impact on our farmers, on their 

22          financial bottom line.  And while they're 

23          certainly not used to doing business, 

24          necessarily, with institutional buyers in my 


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 1          area, they are really rising to the challenge 

 2          of, you know, figuring out to how sell at 

 3          just more than a farmer's market.  And our 

 4          children are also literally eating it up.  

 5          They are eating salads, and they weren't 

 6          before.  I even have folks that raise beef 

 7          making the hamburgers that are all-beef 

 8          hamburger patties right from -- you know, as 

 9          fresh as can be.

10                 So it has been wonderful.  And I 

11          expect that this Farm to School program, even 

12          this mild investment that's proposed, will 

13          have such ripple effects in the rural economy 

14          that we'll kick ourselves for not doing it 

15          sooner.

16                 Now I would like to dive a little bit 

17          into that program.  I believe that the 

18          proposal includes the purchase of New York 

19          dairy products as eligible for the Farm to 

20          School increased reimbursement rate.  Is that 

21          correct?

22                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  That's correct.  

23          That's correct.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I was shocked to 


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 1          learn that school districts in my region are 

 2          actually getting their cartons of milk from 

 3          New England dairy producers, that it's being 

 4          imported into the state.  And I didn't know 

 5          if you folks had any idea how much of the 

 6          milk that's being served in our New York 

 7          cafeterias are coming from out of state.

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Very little.  

 9          We've actually looked at that pretty closely.  

10                 We are an ex-exporter of milk into 

11          New England.  Obviously some of our 

12          processing plants -- for example, Agri-Mark, 

13          they have plants in New York, they also have 

14          plants in Vermont and Springfield, 

15          Massachusetts.  And so milk goes back and 

16          forth.  

17                 But the net amount of milk goes out of 

18          New York State.  It may go to a plant on the 

19          border, be processed, packaged, and then come 

20          back in.  There's a little bit up there on 

21          the border.  Pennsylvania, the same kind of 

22          story going on there.  But we're pretty good 

23          at milk in New York.  

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I questioned the 


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 1          specific area because I was unsure if the 

 2          Farm to School program would assist our dairy 

 3          farmers by creating more demand or if we 

 4          figured that it wouldn't really change the 

 5          price of milk, that we wouldn't see that much 

 6          more New York milk being in demand and kind 

 7          of sopped up the excess supply that's out 

 8          there.

 9                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I certainly think 

10          it's going to help, because it's going to 

11          make the whole school budget for food in the 

12          cafeterias work a lot better.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Oh, yeah.  I'm 

14          just talking about the price of milk in 

15          general the farmers are getting, as you 

16          mentioned before, has been just crushing for 

17          them.  And so it's usually a case of supply 

18          and demand.  And, you know, I just wasn't 

19          sure if we thought that there would be an 

20          uptick in New York-processed, you know, milk 

21          purchases.

22                 So this is a good segue for me to talk 

23          in more depth about dairy.  And with the SALT 

24          cap in place, my biggest concern about the 


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 1          SALT cap in my district is the impact it's 

 2          going to have on my dairy farmers.  And not 

 3          because they're going to have any income, 

 4          it's going to be because they pay a ton of 

 5          property taxes that are going to take them 

 6          over the SALT cap.  

 7                 And I wonder if we have a backup plan 

 8          for if we aren't able to agree, during this 

 9          budget process, on a solution for the loss of 

10          the SALT deduction for our farmers, who don't 

11          have cash hanging around to pay higher 

12          property -- or, you know, any higher taxes at 

13          all.

14                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Right.  We've 

15          looked at this pretty closely.  There's two 

16          things at play here, not just the property 

17          tax.  Which if they're even a sole 

18          proprietorship or an LLC, they would still 

19          qualify for that as a business expense.

20                 The bigger concern right now is 

21          Section 199 in the federal code, which has to 

22          do with income flowing through a cooperative.  

23          Which of course, you know, 99 percent of our 

24          dairy farmers backlog belong to a 


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 1          cooperative.  That got fixed along the way 

 2          somewhat.  It actually got over-fixed and 

 3          included some unintended cooperatives, large 

 4          businesses that weren't dairy farmers paying 

 5          into a cooperative.  

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  No, that wasn't 

 7          unintended, I'm sure.

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, yes, I'm 

 9          sure it was something.  But that's being 

10          worked on as we speak, and we weigh in on 

11          that, and hopefully it will wind up righted 

12          and again in a good place.  So I don't think 

13          that's going to be the blow to our dairy 

14          farmers that's anticipated.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  And finally, I 

16          just -- you know, as we're looking at options 

17          on the table for supporting our dairy 

18          industry, I'll just remind you of my thoughts 

19          on a premium payment for meeting very high 

20          quality measures.  When we talk about our 

21          exports being down, I think a component of 

22          that is that the United States has failed to 

23          adopt higher quality measures like the 

24          European Union has, and so we are not seen as 


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 1          attractive compared to those other places 

 2          that have higher quality standards.  

 3                 And I've briefed you on my proposal to 

 4          have an up to $3-per-hundredweight premium 

 5          payment that would help us with exports and 

 6          also help to stabilize the dairy industry 

 7          that is on the brink, which is the basis for 

 8          most of the economy of upstate New York, and 

 9          that it's time to think more boldly.

10                 Thank you.

11                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Oh, gosh, thank 

12          you.  Appreciate it.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

14                 Senator O'Mara.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yes, Commissioner --

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes, sir.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  -- thank you.  

18                 Just a quick comment on the 

19          $10-plus million of various ag programs that 

20          get cut out of the budget this year, and last 

21          year was more than that.  And we go through 

22          this charade every year in the budget of 

23          cutting it out, putting it back in.  We waste 

24          a lot of time and effort for programs that 


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 1          are very valuable to our agriculture 

 2          community.  And I would just stress to the 

 3          Executive that it frankly is a waste of all 

 4          of our time, year in and year out, having to 

 5          go through all that.

 6                 On the State Fair, $50 million in 

 7          capital reappropriations, can you tell us 

 8          where we are, what remains to be done, and 

 9          how much is expended of that $50 million?

10                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  It's all 

11          allocated.  The building, they're working on 

12          it today as we speak.  If you drive by the 

13          Syracuse State Fair on 690, you'll see steel 

14          going up.  They actually worked on it all 

15          winter, even on those days when I couldn't 

16          see a hundred yards in front of me to the 

17          next car, they were out there pounding 

18          footings into the ground.  And steel is being 

19          erected as we speak, and they anticipate 

20          being done with the Expo building, 136,000 

21          square feet, by the start of this year's 

22          State Fair.  And this will be the largest 

23          Expo Center between Cleveland and Boston, 

24          that's north of New York City.


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 1                 So I think that's going to be a great 

 2          addition to the fair, not just for those 13 

 3          days we operate, but throughout the season.

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Where is the gondola 

 5          project?

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  You know, when we 

 7          put together the transformation of the fair, 

 8          the first workgroup, and you got to walk 

 9          around with me and the Governor there and we 

10          talked about doing more, and then there was 

11          the second transformation project that was 

12          underway -- and the gondola was certainly a 

13          part of those discussions.  It was a rather 

14          extensive wish list.  But the funding that we 

15          had to do, we decided the best thing to do 

16          with it was go after this Expo building.

17                 So we currently don't have funding for 

18          a gondola.  We did put into the fair last 

19          year a skyway, which was borne by the company 

20          that operates the midway.  And so you can 

21          take a skyway ride from one end of the fair 

22          over to the west end, which has been a big 

23          hit.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  But not over to the 


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 1          amphitheater.

 2                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Not over to the 

 3          amphitheater or the orange lot.  

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So the gondola plans 

 5          are off the table for now?

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, they're 

 7          sitting on the corner there waiting for 

 8          funding.

 9                 (Laughter.)

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  That's 

11          where they should stay.

12                 On hemp, I want to commend you, the 

13          department, the Governor for the incredible 

14          work that you've done to build a hemp 

15          industry here in New York State.  It's been 

16          very important to me, and it's been a 

17          pleasure to work with you and your department 

18          and the Governor's office on that over the 

19          past few years, together with 

20          Assemblywoman Lupardo.

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  You mentioned in your 

23          opening remarks you now have over 2,000 acres 

24          of land.  Is it actively being farmed for 


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 1          hemp this coming year, or what's the makeup 

 2          of that, and status?

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Okay, the 2,000 

 4          acres refer to the amount of the research 

 5          project for hemp that we had planted last 

 6          year in New York State, literally from 

 7          Lake Erie across the state down to Long 

 8          Island.  It was the biggest research project 

 9          I think Cornell and Morrisville had ever 

10          stood up, and it was very successful in spite 

11          of a very challenging growing season.

12                 This year, new year, new 

13          opportunity -- we have somewhere around over 

14          106 growers that are interested in 

15          participating in the hemp research.  It will 

16          add up to more than 2,000 acres this year.  I 

17          don't know exactly, but the sum total is 

18          already exceeding 2,000 acres, so.  I think 

19          we're going to keep that research growing.  

20          You learn a lot on a bad year, as you do on a 

21          good year.  And so excited about the 

22          prospects there.

23                 I would add that we'll be at Cornell 

24          this week for a hemp research forum where we 


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 1          get the best and brightest together and talk 

 2          about what we've learned and what we have yet 

 3          to learn as we go forward.

 4                 So I think between that and the 

 5          investment in processing capacity by Empire 

 6          State Development in hemp, that's going to 

 7          really be the answer.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Again, on the topic 

 9          of Cornell, to echo Senator Ritchie's 

10          comments, Cornell being in my district, the 

11          relationship that we have in the state with 

12          Cornell is phenomenal.  The work that they 

13          do, in conjunction with you and Ag & Markets 

14          in so many other areas of the state, is 

15          fantastic.  

16                 So I do want to commend Cornell for 

17          their very active involvement in this.  I 

18          only wish that the forum wasn't the night of 

19          a session day when we're here in Albany.  But 

20          I'm sure I'll have somebody there.

21                 What is the plan -- or how many 

22          licenses are issued now for growers and/or 

23          processors in the state, and is there any 

24          limit?  Or where do you see where we're going 


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 1          to end up in the number of licenses being 

 2          issued?

 3                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I think the number 

 4          of permits we have is 106.  And Jeff is 

 5          showing me here that the number of acres that 

 6          are currently planned for next year is 2700, 

 7          just to get back to that.

 8                 For processors, I believe there are 26 

 9          that are currently registered with the 

10          department with an interest in processing 

11          hemp in New York State.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How is the work going 

13          to match up the growers with the processors?  

14          Because we certainly have farmers across the 

15          state that are interested in this burgeoning 

16          industry, but concerned about making an 

17          investment to get into a new crop without 

18          really having the industry there to sell to.  

19          You know, it's the old chicken-and-egg 

20          scenario.

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So where are we in 

23          those efforts?

24                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah.  It 


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 1          certainly starts with the customer, and not 

 2          with what you like to grow.

 3                 That's part of our mission, and to do 

 4          that, we put together a hemp workgroup that 

 5          came out of the summit you and I were at.  We 

 6          invited all the people that are interested in 

 7          the business to be a part of that workgroup.  

 8          They're a very bright, very high-energy, very 

 9          scientific and very forward-thinking group of 

10          people.  

11                 But within the first meeting, I 

12          realized we needed a second workgroup just to 

13          deal with a different type of hemp, because 

14          certainly it depends on who your customer is.  

15          And matching that processor to the grower who 

16          can grow what they need is so important, 

17          which is what we're doing with these 

18          workgroups.

19                 We have hemp that's grown for fiber, 

20          that's grown for manufacturing, that's grown 

21          for paper or cloth, and then we have hemp 

22          that's probably grown to a much more 

23          sophisticated level with regard to CBDs and 

24          the seed and the quality of oils that can be 


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 1          extracted, with nutrition and possibly 

 2          pharmaceutical benefits.  

 3                 So it starts with who the processor is 

 4          and connecting them with a grower that can 

 5          grow that specific type, that specific 

 6          quality of product.  Very different from 

 7          biofiber to pharmaceutical, as you can 

 8          imagine.  But that's what we're matching up 

 9          now.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Very good.  I again 

11          commend you and your staff's efforts and the 

12          entire department on these efforts.  I've got 

13          a few more questions, but I'll come back for 

14          a second round.

15                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

17          Blankenbush.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN BLANKENBUSH:  Thank you.

19                 Welcome, Commissioner.  Assemblyman 

20          Magee and Senator Ritchie asked most of the 

21          questions that were on my list.  I'm not 

22          going to repeat those questions.  But I just 

23          want to reflect a little bit on the Senator's 

24          comments about how every year that I've been 


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 1          down here with her, that the Executive takes 

 2          that money away from Ag & Markets and ag 

 3          communities.

 4                 So I'm not going to repeat any of 

 5          that, just to tell you that I'm concerned.  I 

 6          think we've talked in my office about that, 

 7          actually.  So hopefully we can get those back 

 8          in.

 9                 So the only real question that I have 

10          is out in the western United States, the 

11          Salmonella Dublin disease for the cattle, the 

12          herd, I'm hearing that there's some coming 

13          into New York now, that some herds of cattle 

14          have had that or are starting to have that 

15          disease.  Have you heard that, or --

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  No, I have not.  

17          And we have probably the best state vet in 

18          the country here, Dr. David Smith.  And 

19          usually when I see him walking towards me in 

20          the office, I know something's up, and I have 

21          not seen him.

22                 So I'm not aware of that.  I'll 

23          certainly flag that for him.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN BLANKENBUSH:  Okay.  I've 


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 1          just gotten some type of emails and stuff of 

 2          concern that -- it's all in the western 

 3          section of the United States, or a lot of it, 

 4          but now I'm getting some of our dairy people 

 5          are concerned about that disease entering 

 6          into the State of New York, and I just wanted 

 7          to ask that question if you've heard that.

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I would say that 

 9          when I was in Washington a couple of weeks 

10          ago, one of the things we advocated for and 

11          would be part of the farm bill at USDA is the 

12          ability to have funding set aside for 

13          livestock issues as they come up.

14                 As you know, a couple of years ago we 

15          had the largest outbreak of avian influenza 

16          that the United States has ever seen.  It was 

17          the most devastating and costly event that 

18          USDA had ever dealt with.  And the money had 

19          to be found to do that.  And so as we have in 

20          the plant world funding in the government's 

21          budget to deal with plant outbreaks, we need 

22          to follow through and do the same thing for 

23          livestock.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN BLANKENBUSH:  So I guess 


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 1          the farmers that have contacted me, I should 

 2          wait to see what the department has found out 

 3          on that question that I have there?

 4                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Please contact us, 

 5          and we'll talk about that.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN BLANKENBUSH:  Okay.

 7                 The last thing is that we're going 

 8          into the maple season, and the next time I 

 9          see you will be tapping.  But a lot of the 

10          maple people are talking that we're probably 

11          going to be untapping by the time you and I 

12          get to VBS down there.

13                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, it is an 

14          unusual weather pattern that we're in, but 

15          the sap is flowing and we've already begun.  

16          I'll have a brace and bit in my hand, and 

17          I'll be ready.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN BLANKENBUSH:  Thank you 

19          very much.  That's all the questions I have.

20                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you so much.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Helming.

23                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you.

24                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Good to see you, 


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 1          Senator.

 2                 SENATOR HELMING:  It's nice to see 

 3          you, Commissioner.  Thank you for being here.

 4                 My first question this morning is in 

 5          regards to anaerobic digesters.  As you know, 

 6          and I think most everyone here, anaerobic 

 7          digesters help to reduce methane gas 

 8          emissions and nutrient contamination of 

 9          nearby sources, which is so critically 

10          important in my region where I represent four 

11          of the Finger Lakes areas.

12                 These digesters also help New York 

13          meet greenhouse gas emission reduction goals 

14          under the State Energy Plan.  And 

15          furthermore, the state has already 

16          significantly invested in its farm waste 

17          generating equipment, customer generators, 

18          and any closures would undo this substantial 

19          investment.  

20                 I've toured a couple of farms with 

21          digesters on site, and they seem to be at the 

22          stage where the digesters are at the point 

23          where they need upgrades.  And I'm just 

24          wondering what your thoughts are on the 


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 1          future viability of the existing digesters, 

 2          and what if anything is being done to ensure 

 3          their financial security.

 4                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, thank you 

 5          for that.

 6                 We talk pretty regularly with the 

 7          methane digester group, largely dairy 

 8          farmers, although there are some community 

 9          operations as well.  I think it's a valuable 

10          source of energy that we need to be aware of 

11          and pay attention to.

12                 As you know, digesters are very 

13          expensive to install, very expensive to 

14          maintain.  And that return in the price has 

15          not really given them enough flexibility to 

16          maintain the equipment or consider expanding.

17                 This is a conversation that we're 

18          having ongoing with the Public Service 

19          Commission as well as NYSERDA.  And you're 

20          going to have the new commissioner at NYSERDA 

21          shortly -- a great individual, and we've 

22          talked about this quite a bit.

23                 I think we're getting there.  

24          Particularly in my mind as we look forward to 


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 1          becoming energy-independent here, and we look 

 2          at the possible sources of energy that we 

 3          have in the state, the CAFO manure storage 

 4          funding came up a little while ago.  And I 

 5          think if we're creative about that, we will 

 6          see that, you know, potentially we have a 

 7          couple of hundred storage facilities for 

 8          energy around our state.  And I think it's 

 9          something that needs to be included in our 

10          thinking, and I certainly appreciate your 

11          work in this sphere, and we'll work with you.

12                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you.  I will 

13          be sure to ask NYSERDA further about the 

14          digesters.

15                 But, you know, we're -- the digesters 

16          that I was referring to, the ones that I 

17          visited, were on dairy farms.  And as we just 

18          heard from a number of my colleagues, that 

19          there is this increasing pressure on dairy 

20          farmers, because of the milk prices just -- 

21          and as you said, the global economy is not 

22          good.

23                 And my concern is what are we doing to 

24          help the farmers who are under all of this 


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 1          stress?  Is there anything from a mental 

 2          health perspective or -- what is New York 

 3          State doing?  And has any money been 

 4          allocated in the budget for FarmNet?

 5                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  FarmNet's been a 

 6          great partner in New York agriculture for 

 7          many years.  And actually we've been engaged 

 8          in conversations with them.  One of our 

 9          larger co-ops in the state actually sent a 

10          letter to all its members cautioning about 

11          mental stress and even suicide, the word was 

12          mentioned.

13                 We have seen that happen in the past 

14          historically, in rare -- fortunately -- 

15          situations where farmers have taken their own 

16          lives because of the stress on the industry.

17                 So we talk regularly with FarmNet.  I 

18          have their brochure right here in my packet, 

19          with a magnet to go on a refrigerator.  We're 

20          handing it out to all our farmers.  We have 

21          put together -- it was destined to be a 

22          one-pager; it's actually a three-pager that 

23          FarmNet put together for us to give to all 

24          our inspectors, whether they be dairy 


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 1          inspectors or plant or whatever type of 

 2          inspector, nutrition people who are visiting 

 3          the dairy farms to sell them feed, so they 

 4          can read and understand and know what to 

 5          watch for.

 6                 As you know, when a farmer gets to 

 7          FarmNet, they've made the right call and 

 8          they're going to get the right care.  But the 

 9          farmers that don't call FarmNet are the ones 

10          that we worry about.  And so, again, we've 

11          added this to our list of things we do as the 

12          agency when we visit farms.

13                 We're also working very hard to deal 

14          with some of the underlying issues -- the 

15          safety net that isn't there for them in the 

16          farm bill, the MPP program, which failed them 

17          miserably.  So there's a fix for that.  We're 

18          analyzing that very carefully and seeing if 

19          it makes sense for our farmers.

20                 We're also on a call this week to talk 

21          about price loss coverage protection for our 

22          farmers.  We're looking at all the options 

23          there.  And basically, you know, I don't buy 

24          milk and I don't sell milk and I don't set 


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 1          the price of milk.  We can help make 

 2          connections, we can help look for new 

 3          markets.  And we've worked very hard with our 

 4          grown and certified program, for example, to 

 5          expand that market, to expand the reach of 

 6          that market, and to get a higher-value dollar 

 7          for the dairy.  So --

 8                 SENATOR HELMING:  I'd just like to 

 9          redirect for a moment here.

10                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yes.

11                 SENATOR HELMING:  So I applaud you and 

12          your agency for sharing the information about 

13          FarmNet with the farmers out there.  But why 

14          is it year after year that there is no 

15          funding in the Governor's budget for FarmNet?

16                 And as Senator O'Mara talked about 

17          earlier, it's kind of like a game we play.  

18          The Governor puts nothing in for this 

19          critically important program, which you just 

20          acknowledged, you know, how important it is, 

21          and then the Legislature has to go and battle 

22          back for the money. 

23                 This should be an automatic -- this is 

24          extremely important for the farmers.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  The Governor put 

 2          $384,000 into that budget.  And over the 

 3          years, traditionally, the balance of their 

 4          funding has come from the Legislature.

 5                 I agree that it's a critical program, 

 6          especially in a year like this one.

 7                 SENATOR HELMING:  Can I ask another 

 8          one?

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Next round, Senator, 

10          please.

11                 SENATOR HELMING:  Okay.  Thank you.

12                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Krueger.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good afternoon.  Oh, 

15          there's no more Assemblymembers?  Okay.

16                 Hi, Commissioner.  When you first took 

17          over, we had a number of discussions about 

18          expanding ways to bring New York State 

19          agriculture into New York City markets, 

20          wholesale sales as well as retail and 

21          restaurants, and including the need to 

22          improve the Hunts Point Market and ensure 

23          that there were adequate locations to have 

24          direct marketing from New York State farmers 


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 1          to the wholesalers or the trucks that were 

 2          coming to pick up there.

 3                 Where are we today?

 4                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, I wish I 

 5          could say we're done, but we've made a good 

 6          beginning on that.  We've got a lot of things 

 7          going on, actually.  

 8                 We have regular conversations with the 

 9          Hunts Point people, and we've come together 

10          under the umbrella of food safety and helping 

11          them be ready for the Food Safety 

12          Modernization Act that congress has passed.

13                 But more to your point, with the 

14          New York Grown & Certified Program, when we 

15          rolled that out last year, I was able to be 

16          with the Governor announcing the beginning of 

17          that program in Hunts Point, in the South 

18          Bronx, where we dedicated funding for a new 

19          food hub there, to be that loading dock, to 

20          be that cross-dock opportunity to get 

21          New York Grown & Certified, New York 

22          products, to the neighborhoods that need it 

23          most.

24                 We allocated $15 million to begin the 


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 1          work on the building, partnering with the 

 2          Greenmarket Co. and GrowNYC.  The plans are 

 3          being drawn, the land has been found.  

 4          They're drawing up the building plans now.  

 5          New York City is a partner on the land there.  

 6          And we're looking forward to breaking ground 

 7          later this year and actually getting that 

 8          building up and operating.

 9                 This will be able to facilitate not 

10          just getting it into the various marketplaces 

11          but specifically getting the food box program 

12          supported in some of those neighborhoods that 

13          have not traditionally had access to New York 

14          food products.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And the state had 

16          also supported the creation of a couple of -- 

17          there's a term, and I'm now blanking, but the 

18          farmers would bring their food into a 

19          centralized location and then it would get 

20          sold to New York City institutional food 

21          locations and it would -- that location they 

22          brought the food to would put it together and 

23          truck it for them the final miles down to the 

24          city.


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Right.  Food hub, 

 2          yeah.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And so there was one 

 4          in the Hudson Valley I visited, and I'm 

 5          blanking on the name.

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yup.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So have those been 

 8          successful, and have we expanded on that at 

 9          all?

10                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Yeah, we are.  

11          There's a tremendous interest in food hubs.  

12          Again, it really starts with the customer 

13          first, and then you locate a food hub.

14                 Truly, the Hunts Point Market is a 

15          food hub.  Terminal markets around the state 

16          are food hubs already.  But there are some 

17          that need tweaking, need improvement, need a 

18          new location and new thinking.  But in this 

19          case, particularly the one in the South Bronx 

20          that we're looking at, we're calling it a 

21          Greenmarket Food Hub.  That is the 

22          destination and the gathering point.

23                 Corresponding things need to happen 

24          upstate as well because, okay, we've got a 


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 1          distribution point, but how do we have a 

 2          collection point upstate?  And so that work 

 3          is ongoing, connecting the dots, where do we 

 4          have the capacity in New York State 

 5          agricultural communities to produce the stuff 

 6          that we need for that food hub.  So that 

 7          relationship building is all critical.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Changing topics.  

 9          But parallel to my colleagues' questions 

10          about hemp and the potential for a growing 

11          hemp market in New York State, the Governor 

12          has now announced that he's asking Department 

13          of Health to take the lead on a study of the 

14          impact of adult-use recreational marijuana in 

15          New York, parallel to many states around the 

16          country and a growing number of our 

17          neighboring states.

18                 Have they asked you to look at the 

19          impact on our agricultural sector if we had 

20          an additional product to be grown and sold in 

21          New York?

22                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I have not been 

23          asked.  I have had many conversations with 

24          the commissioner of health about some of the 


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 1          technical aspects of -- and cultural aspects 

 2          of growing the crop.  But that's really 

 3          Department of Health.

 4                 And I do know that those institutions, 

 5          those businesses that we have in the state, 

 6          very tightly regulated, all indoors, very 

 7          high-security, and under his purview.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Although if we went 

 9          into a nonmedical model, which is what the 

10          Governor has asked him to look at, I think 

11          we're really talking more about broader 

12          agricultural economics of a new product.  And 

13          my colleague just asked me to ask about the 

14          weather conditions in New York.  Is the 

15          assumption that it would all need to be an 

16          indoor or hydroponic model, or that there 

17          would be outdoor farming potential?

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  My understanding 

19          in talking with some of my colleagues in 

20          other states -- you know, Colorado, for 

21          example -- is that it's generally an indoor, 

22          secured model, greenhouse-grown.

23                 But I think we're at the stage the 

24          Governor has asked people to look at it, 


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 1          study it, and come back with an answer.  

 2          Pretty early on in the process, from what I 

 3          understand.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Thank 

 5          you.

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.  Oh, 

 7          gosh, thank you.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Commissioner, just a 

 9          couple more questions.

10                 Commissioner Seggos from the DEC kind 

11          of punted on a question regarding the soil 

12          health program in New York.  And that's one 

13          of the many programs that's been -- I forget 

14          whether that was cut completely or just 

15          reduced in the Executive Budget.

16                 That, to me, has been a very important 

17          issue for agriculture in New York.  I know 

18          I've spoken to you several times about that.  

19          And can you explain the rationale for the 

20          reduction in that program?

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Dr. David Wolfe 

22          put together that proposal with Cornell.  

23          He's a friend.  It's an excellent program.  

24          And soil health, as we've talked about a lot, 


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 1          is the new buzz word in agriculture.

 2                 And that came into the budget not 

 3          through the Executive Budget, but through the 

 4          legislative process at the very tail end of 

 5          negotiations last year.  And I would 

 6          encourage looking at that again.  The 

 7          Governor did not include that in his budget; 

 8          it was an add by the Legislature.  But I 

 9          think it's a worthwhile program.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  But the Governor 

11          doesn't think it's worthwhile enough to put 

12          into his budget?

13                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I think he wanted 

14          to know what you thought about it.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And I've asked you 

16          what you thought about it.  It's been a good 

17          program, right?

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  It's been a great 

19          program.

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  The soil health, we 

21          deal with a lot of issues with runoff and 

22          nonpoint source pollution.  Soil health 

23          certainly plays a significant role in that, 

24          doesn't it?


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 1                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Of course, yeah.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And in the Finger 

 3          Lakes, where we have steep slopes running 

 4          into our lakes and waterways, and the harmful 

 5          algae blooms that we're dealing with that are 

 6          contributed to by this runoff, it seems to me 

 7          that the soil health program would be an 

 8          integral part of what are extensive efforts 

 9          going underway by the state right now with 

10          regards to HABs, and in fact a summit going 

11          on in the Hudson Valley today, and three or 

12          four more scheduled around the state.

13                 So would you agree that soil health is 

14          an important aspect of this whole HAB issue 

15          that we're dealing with?

16                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I would.  And 

17          actually I was with the Governor this morning 

18          in New Paltz for that very first HAB summit, 

19          and I look forward to being at the one in 

20          Western New York and central New York as 

21          well.

22                 Clearly we have to look from 30,000 

23          feet down at what the issue is, and there's 

24          concerns about the agriculture, but there's 


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 1          concerns with homeowners and septic systems, 

 2          there's concerns with weather, climate 

 3          changes, there's concerns with municipal 

 4          processing systems.  There's a lot that goes 

 5          into this.  

 6                 And clearly -- I think correctly -- 

 7          the Governor has identified that we need a 

 8          new level of thinking and study and expertise 

 9          and looking at this issue if we're going to, 

10          you know, solve it.  Because there isn't just 

11          one thing that is the issue here.

12                 Certainly on our farms the work that 

13          we do with nonpoint, the work that we do with 

14          the CAFO storages, the work that we do with 

15          all our soil and water programs -- and again, 

16          we've added a million dollars there, and 

17          we've added climate resiliency funds -- all 

18          of these together can help improve that 

19          situation in our watersheds that are 

20          sensitive.  

21                 So I would encourage you to look 

22          closely at it as well, and look forward to 

23          personally working with you on it.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.  And I 


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 1          agree with you completely about the many 

 2          aspects involved.  And I didn't mean to imply 

 3          that soil health was the only one of them or 

 4          even the main one of them.  But it's 

 5          certainly a part of it.  So I appreciate your 

 6          interest in that and continued efforts in 

 7          that regard.

 8                 Senator Helming.

 9                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you.

10                 So talking about soil protection, one 

11          of the programs that I think is incredibly 

12          valuable to New York State is the FPIG, which 

13          is the Farmland Protection Implementation 

14          Grant program.  I've seen that successfully 

15          implemented in many areas across New York 

16          State.  And what I'm wondering is, are all 

17          the funds under the FPIG program approved in 

18          last year's budget currently encumbered?

19                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I don't believe 

20          they're totally encumbered.  There's always 

21          some that come in under budget, or a little 

22          over or something.  We have a backlog of 

23          funding there.  But that goes back to 2009, 

24          when there was no funding and lots of 


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 1          projects.  And so we've been dealing with 

 2          that backlog I think pretty effectively.

 3                 But yeah, we're spending the money 

 4          pretty well.  In the last four years, we've 

 5          had stakeholder meetings, we've brought in 

 6          all the players there -- the land trusts, the 

 7          municipalities, our team -- and sat at the 

 8          same table and talked about the process, how 

 9          we can facilitate the process and make it 

10          work faster.  

11                 And we've gotten it down to -- back in 

12          those early days, it took over four years to, 

13          you know, go from having funding to getting a 

14          project done.  We've cut the time in half.  

15          I'm going to make my team very nervous now 

16          and say last year we did two projects in 

17          Saratoga County in a year.  That's our goal, 

18          is to get it down so that the money comes in 

19          and the money goes out as fast as possible.

20                 So I think we're doing a pretty good 

21          job.  We're gaining on it all the time.  The 

22          Governor is committed to it, he's put it back 

23          in the budget again this year.  And this year 

24          we've added some grants to help on the land 


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 1          trust side, on the municipalities side, then 

 2          do inventories on available land and start 

 3          looking ahead so that the process can be, in 

 4          fact, much smoother, much faster.

 5                 SENATOR HELMING:  Can we increase the 

 6          number of applications that the regional land 

 7          trust and/or the municipalities can submit?  

 8          I think right now are they capped at six per 

 9          region, or six applications in general?

10                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  You know, we can 

11          certainly look at that.  My response to them 

12          about that is that the jam-up there doesn't 

13          occur at Ag & Markets, it's largely in the 

14          field at the land trust and the municipality 

15          level.

16                 These agreements involve conservation 

17          easements that are fairly complicated, and it 

18          takes a great amount of education on the end 

19          of the farmer and the land trust, the 

20          municipality.  And for us, we've streamlined 

21          our process down pretty well.  What's been 

22          taking a lot of the time is the capacity in 

23          the community, get the farmers ready -- 

24          because things change on a farm.  And you can 


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 1          think about if a farm has an idea to have an 

 2          easement and get that influx, there's -- if 

 3          it takes a long time, family dynamics change, 

 4          et cetera.

 5                 So we see the real bottleneck 

 6          happening at that end.  But I'm willing to 

 7          turn the volume up on the machine, or the 

 8          speed up on the machine, but I think we've 

 9          spent the last couple of years making sure 

10          the machine is running properly and that we 

11          get the bugs worked out before we try to turn 

12          up the speed on it.

13                 SENATOR HELMING:  Okay.  Another 

14          question, as long as no one's watching the 

15          time.

16                 (Laughter.)

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  You've got a minute 

18          and 44 seconds.

19                 SENATOR HELMING:  Farm brewery 

20          license.  I recently hosted a farm brewery 

21          roundtable to discuss the New York Grown 

22          thresholds under the program.  And I want to 

23          thank you for the department's participation.  

24          Along with NYSDAM, we had representatives 


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 1          from the State Liquor Authority, Farm Bureau, 

 2          Cornell, the Brewers Association, as well as 

 3          growers and brewers from across New York 

 4          State.  It was an absolutely wonderful, 

 5          wonderful roundtable, a lot of positive 

 6          response.

 7                 But I just wanted to share with you a 

 8          couple of things that came out of that 

 9          meeting.

10                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.

11                 SENATOR HELMING:  One, it became very 

12          clear to me that in New York State we need to 

13          grow a variety of hops that will stand out in 

14          the market and also increase the value of our 

15          New York hops.  And I think that relates back 

16          to some of the comments Senators have made 

17          about the need to fund different Cornell 

18          research and other types of research.

19                 Another issue that was addressed, it 

20          was stressed over and over again by the 

21          participants at the event, was that there's 

22          so much excitement -- at the Governor's 

23          level, at the state level -- about the craft 

24          brewery industry, but that when it comes to 


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 1          putting, you know, money where your mouth is, 

 2          that the funding is low.  That when it comes 

 3          to funding for hops and barley research, the 

 4          Governor puts in $40,000 every year.  

 5                 And one of the producers who was at 

 6          the roundtable pointed out to us that one of 

 7          their hop storage bins on their farm alone 

 8          might cost $40,000.  

 9                 And it's my understanding that the 

10          Legislature is the primary funder of research 

11          programs relating to hops and barley that 

12          support the farm brewery license program.  

13          Why is that?  And it seems like this is going 

14          back to a question that Senator O'Mara asked 

15          earlier.  You know, why do we play these 

16          games?  Why not put the money in up-front for 

17          these important programs?

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, again, and 

19          I -- you know, not to belabor the point, but 

20          it is a process, the budget.  It's not just a 

21          one-and-done kind of thing.  You know, this 

22          input is very helpful and frankly very 

23          beneficial.

24                 But I have to say that, you know, the 


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 1          Governor has held three craft beverage 

 2          summits, you know.  Every one of them has 

 3          been tremendously successful.  And every one 

 4          of them -- working with our partners at ESD 

 5          and our partners at the State Liquor 

 6          Authority, we've made regulations easier, 

 7          we've applied a different look, we've added 

 8          marketing efforts, we have funded, you know, 

 9          efforts at Cornell to get new varieties that 

10          we're going to need.  We are investing in 

11          virus-free plant stock here; that's a new 

12          initiative that we need back, because there 

13          was so much excitement that some of the 

14          growers got ahead of us and brought in, for 

15          example, hop root stock from other areas.  Lo 

16          and behold, it had some virus into it.  And 

17          you don't see that until five years, six 

18          years down the road.

19                 So making sure that we have good stock 

20          material.  When you make an investment in 

21          hops, it's a pretty significant investment 

22          and it takes a long time before you get a 

23          return on it.

24                 So we're doing a lot of those things.  


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 1          But I think we need to remember it's a joint 

 2          project here between the two of us.  You're 

 3          out there talking with the growers; we've got 

 4          a craft beverage workgroup that we work with 

 5          on a regular basis.  And where there's a 

 6          need, we're ready to step up.  So we look 

 7          forward to that.  I'm so glad you put 

 8          together that roundtable.

 9                 SENATOR HELMING:  So just a question, 

10          then, to follow up quickly.  Do you think 

11          there's adequate funding in the budget right 

12          now for hops and barley research programs?

13                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I think we need to 

14          know what we need to know.  I think we're 

15          going to need to -- and I don't mean to be 

16          silly about that -- but, you know, clearly 

17          meet with Cornell on a regular basis.  

18                 We needed new varieties of rye to go 

19          along with the hops.  But we've already got 

20          things in place, they've got good researchers 

21          there.  And some of it takes time.  For 

22          example, with the barley question, I spoke 

23          with the Governor about barley not too long 

24          ago.  We need more barley.  We need this 


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 1          quality of barley.  Well, it took Cornell 

 2          three years to really evaluate some of the 

 3          new varieties they were looking at, and they 

 4          weren't going to be ready to release a 

 5          recommendation until they had seen it three 

 6          times in a row and then were comfortable.  So 

 7          some of this takes walking before we start 

 8          running.

 9                 But clearly it's an industry that's 

10          grown 150 percent since 2012.  I don't think 

11          we've seen the end of it.  And, you know, I 

12          can see more funding needed as we go forward.

13                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you.

14                 I have one more.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  You've got one more 

16          question?

17                 SENATOR HELMING:  One more.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  That's the last one.

19                 SENATOR HELMING:  Okay.  Cut me off 

20          after this one.

21                 Commissioner, have you heard about the 

22          waste incinerator that's proposed for 

23          Romulus, New York?  It's about 3.5 miles off 

24          of Seneca Lake.  It's in the heart of the 


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 1          Finger Lakes wine and craft brewery area.

 2                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  I have not.

 3                 SENATOR HELMING:  Okay.  Well, maybe 

 4          at some point you and I can get together and 

 5          we can talk about it.

 6                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure.

 7                 SENATOR HELMING:  It's my 

 8          understanding that someone from your agency 

 9          will sit on the board that will be making a 

10          decision on whether or not this incinerator 

11          project should be approved for this area.  I 

12          could go on and on about my feelings of the 

13          impact that this incinerator will have on our 

14          agricultural industry -- not even to mention 

15          on our clean drinking water in Cayuga Lake 

16          and Seneca Lake.  But maybe that's a 

17          discussion that we can have offline.

18                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Let's do that.

19                 SENATOR HELMING:  I just wanted to 

20          bring it to your attention.

21                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Sure, happy to do 

22          that.

23                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you.

24                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Thank you.


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 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I think we're done, 

 2          Commissioner.  Thank you for your 

 3          participation.  Thank you for your 

 4          common-sense approach to many of these 

 5          matters and your passion for the issues that 

 6          you're involved with.  You're really doing a 

 7          great job; keep up the good work.

 8                 COMMISSIONER BALL:  Well, thank you.  

 9          I have to thank all of you for your continued 

10          interest in agriculture and your support of 

11          our food system.  It's much appreciated.

12                 SENATOR HELMING:  Thank you.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

14                 Next we have the New York State Public 

15          Service Commission, represented by John B. 

16          Rhodes, chair.

17                 Feel free to begin.

18                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Am I on?

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  You should be.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Yes.

21                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Okay, thank you.  

22          Sorry. 

23                 Good afternoon, Chair Young, Chair 

24          Weinstein, and other distinguished members.  


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 1          My name is John Rhodes.  I'm the CEO of the 

 2          Department of Public Service and chair of the 

 3          Public Service Commission.  And with me today 

 4          is Executive Deputy Tom Congdon.  

 5                 The department ensures safe, reliable, 

 6          and affordable access to energy, 

 7          telecommunications, and private water 

 8          services, and advises the commission on 

 9          issues ranging from setting rates and 

10          protecting consumers to siting infrastructure 

11          and reviewing utility mergers.  

12                 Our top priorities this year include 

13          continuing Governor Cuomo's progressive plan 

14          to modernize our utility systems and to 

15          ensure affordable energy for our most 

16          vulnerable citizens.  

17                 Some key points.  Reforming the Energy 

18          Vision.  We will drive towards an 

19          increasingly clean, reliable, affordable and 

20          consumer-oriented energy system, by 

21          harnessing markets, innovation, and smarter 

22          investment.  

23                 We have the Clean Energy Standard, 

24          which is a key element of REV and the state's 


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 1          commitment to assuring that 50 percent of all 

 2          electricity consumed comes from renewable 

 3          energy resources by 2030, with requirements 

 4          on energy providers to procure increasing 

 5          amounts of renewable energy and zero-emission 

 6          resources.  

 7                 We have low-income protections, where 

 8          the commission will advance its Energy 

 9          Affordability Policy, which seeks to limit 

10          home energy costs -- energy burden, as we 

11          call it -- for the approximately 2.3 million 

12          low-income New Yorkers to no more than 

13          6 percent of household income, on average.  

14                 We have system reliability and 

15          resiliency.  The reliability of our electric 

16          and natural gas systems remains a primary and 

17          essential focus.  Our staff monitors utility 

18          performance closely, investigates reliability 

19          concerns, and advances cost-effective 

20          investment in new monitoring and control 

21          technologies.  

22                 In safety, this year we will further 

23          strengthen our oversight of utility 

24          practices, especially those related to 


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 1          customer safety and to the replacement of 

 2          leak-prone natural gas pipes.  

 3                 Our regulatory jurisdiction extends 

 4          over investor-owned utilities, including six  

 5          major electric/gas utilities, five major gas 

 6          utilities, three major water companies, as 

 7          well as small telephone companies, hundreds 

 8          of water companies, municipal electric 

 9          utilities, cable companies, power generators, 

10          and energy service companies.  The department 

11          provides regulatory oversight and review of 

12          electric service operation on Long Island -- 

13          the department, as opposed to the commission. 

14                 In this year, the commission expects 

15          to decide several major rate cases.  This 

16          important review will be informed by the 

17          cost-benefit analysis framework that the 

18          commission established to ensure a clear and 

19          transparent assessment of the benefit and 

20          cost of utility investments.  In addition to 

21          rate case reviews, the commission instituted 

22          a proceeding to ensure large tax savings for 

23          utilities due to federal tax law changes are 

24          captured for customer benefit in New York.  


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 1                 We will build on the state's success 

 2          in driving record investment in renewable 

 3          energy development by supporting Governor 

 4          Cuomo’s call to expand energy efficiency 

 5          programs and deploy 1,500 megawatts of energy 

 6          storage -- the largest commitment per capita 

 7          by any state --- by 2025, saving billions of 

 8          dollars in energy costs.  

 9                 Further, we will work with NYSERDA to 

10          obtain at least 2,400 megawatts of offshore 

11          wind power, which includes issuing a 

12          procurement for 800 megawatts by the end of 

13          this year.  In terms of developing new energy 

14          resources, there are currently 24 wind and 

15          solar proposals, totaling 3,900 megawatts, 

16          pending before the Board on Electric 

17          Generation Siting and the Environment, also 

18          known as the Siting Board, which is a board 

19          that I chair.  

20                 It's critical that these projects are 

21          appropriately sited, and that we account for 

22          potential environmental and community 

23          impacts.  Our thorough siting process ensures 

24          local communities are heard and that negative 


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 1          impacts are addressed.  

 2                 In the telecom sector, we will 

 3          accelerate infrastructure modernization and 

 4          oversee investment in broadband buildout to 

 5          help achieve Governor Cuomo's vision for 

 6          universally available high-speed broadband.  

 7                 The commission uses its enforcement 

 8          powers to ensure regulatory success.  Last 

 9          year, we held Charter to its commitment to 

10          expand broadband service to 145,000 unserved 

11          or underserved homes.  When Charter missed 

12          its first-year broadband buildout milestone, 

13          we obtained a $13 million settlement to put 

14          the company on track.  

15                 In the electric sector, the commission 

16          investigated the utility response to the 

17          March 2017 Rochester-area windstorm, and a 

18          penalty proceeding is now underway.  

19                 In this fiscal year, reforming the 

20          ESCO market remains a priority.  We have 

21          heard complaints from many consumers and 

22          their representatives about ESCOs grossly 

23          overcharging and using deceptive marketing 

24          practices.  We will continue the reform, and 


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 1          we will put an end to bad-acting ESCOS.  

 2                 The fiscal year '18-'19 Executive 

 3          Budget continues support of $89.6 million for 

 4          operations, which includes $81.1 million in 

 5          18—a utility funds, $3 million for cable TV, 

 6          and $5.5 million for federal funds.  

 7          Additionally, $5.8 million is included for 

 8          intervenor funding, for a total All-Funds 

 9          appropriation of $95.4 million.  

10                 The full-time equivalent position 

11          count remains the same at 520, and we are 

12          positioned to deliver our core mission and 

13          meet the Governor's ambitious agenda.  

14                 This concludes my remarks, and I 

15          welcome your questions.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

17                 We'll go first to the Assembly Energy 

18          chair, Assemblyman Cusick.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you.  Thank 

20          you, Chairwoman.  

21                 Chairman, thank you for being here.  I 

22          wanted to ask some questions on the Clean 

23          Energy Standard.  I know in 2016 the 50 

24          percent renewable by 2030 was adopted.  Could 


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 1          you tell me in 2018 where we are, where 

 2          New York State is in the percentage of energy 

 3          generated in New York State by renewables?

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Can I offer 

 5          estimates for 2017?

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Sure.  Whatever 

 7          you have.

 8                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So the NYISO, 

 9          the New York Independent System Operator, 

10          keeps the bible -- they now call it the Gold 

11          Book.  And if you look at those figures and 

12          update them for known capacity additions, 

13          total renewables are about 24 percent, 

14          perhaps a little bit higher.  The bulk of 

15          those are hydro resources.  

16                 I expect you're asking also 

17          specifically about wind and solar.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Yes.

19                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Solar is 

20          probably running at about 1 percent, with 

21          installed capacity growing at a very nice 

22          healthy rate.  And wind is at about -- in the 

23          high 3 percents, I would say.  Again, with 

24          NYSERDA in the midst -- and you should talk 


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 1          to the president of NYSERDA -- of really a 

 2          nation-leading procurement of clean-energy 

 3          resources, which include both wind and solar.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Now, are these 

 5          numbers that you are comfortable with?  Or 

 6          are these numbers that we predicted we'd be 

 7          on target?

 8                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  They are on the 

 9          track that we need to be on in order to get 

10          to our goal.  I'll confess we're making life 

11          a little bit easier for ourselves by moving 

12          the finish line in a little closer.  We have 

13          in the State Energy Plan a very forceful 

14          energy-efficiency set of initiatives, and I 

15          think you know that the Governor in the State 

16          of the State announced that he wanted us and 

17          our sister agencies, including NYSERDA and 

18          the New York Power Authority, to examine all 

19          options to be even stronger on that.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  So there are 

21          incremental targets in place that -- to 

22          ensure that we are on target to get to that 

23          goal?

24                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's right.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.  And you're 

 2          comfortable that we're on that track to get 

 3          there?

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We're not on 

 5          cruise control, we're paying a lot of 

 6          attention.  But yes, we're confident we'll 

 7          get there.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Great.

 9                 I'd like to switch over to the Indian 

10          Point Closure Task Force.  I have a question 

11          on what's the status of the task force study 

12          evaluating future reuse of the land?  I know 

13          that there was a deadline of April 30th.  

14          It's fast approaching.  So I wanted to see if 

15          you could give us a little sneak peek of it.

16                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So this is one 

17          of the few topics where my executive deputy 

18          is especially deeply involved.  So Tom, 

19          perhaps you can answer?

20                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  Hi, 

21          Assemblyman.  Thank you for the question.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Absolutely.

23                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  The Indian 

24          Point Task Force, which I chair, has met 


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 1          three times.  We've had very productive 

 2          meetings in the community, the Town of 

 3          Cortlandt.  

 4                 And we did bring on a consultant 

 5          through a NYSERDA RFP to conduct that reuse 

 6          study that you've mentioned.  The 

 7          consultant's name is D.L. English.  They are 

 8          hard at work to complete the reuse study by 

 9          the deadline of April 30.  They made a public 

10          presentation to the task force at a recent 

11          meeting and showed a lot of progress.

12                 I think that the information that they 

13          provide us will be helpful to the task force 

14          and the local communities to know what 

15          potential future options may exist, short 

16          term and long term.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.  And how 

18          much replacement power is currently in 

19          service?

20                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  On the 

21          replacement power front, as you may know, the 

22          New York Independent System Operator 

23          performed a feasibility assessment.  They do 

24          this for every power plant that closes.  


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 1                 And so they did an analysis of 

 2          Indian Point coming offline on the schedule 

 3          that was outlined in the settlement 

 4          agreement.  And they look at both what the 

 5          projected demand is going to be on the system 

 6          as well as what resources they expect will be 

 7          online at the date that closure is occurring.

 8                 And they have a pretty high threshold 

 9          at the NYISO in terms of which resources to 

10          include in the baseline.  It's not enough, 

11          for example, for a project simply to be 

12          permitted.  They've got to be showing the 

13          NYISO that they're well underway in 

14          construction for them to be counted in their 

15          modeling analysis.

16                 And so based on the resources that are 

17          in service, the existing resources, as well 

18          as resources that are sufficiently underway 

19          in construction, and comparing that against 

20          projected demand --

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  How many are in 

22          that second category you just mentioned?

23                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  Over 17, 

24          1800 megawatts.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.

 2                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  In 

 3          construction, is what you're referring to?

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Yes.  Yeah.

 5                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  And also we 

 6          should note that, you know, the Public 

 7          Service Commission had an Indian Point 

 8          closure proceeding that it commenced in 2013, 

 9          and approved transmission upgrades of around 

10          600 megawatts, as well as demand response and 

11          energy-efficiency improvements in the area to 

12          help tamp down demand.

13                 And so through a combination of all of 

14          those resources, the NYISO concluded that 

15          there is no reliability need for Indian Point 

16          beyond the closure date in the settlement 

17          agreement.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.  The task 

19          force was also charged with assessing 

20          retaining opportunities for the jobs that are 

21          affected.  How many programs have been 

22          identified?

23                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  There are 

24          several existing programs.  NYSERDA has 


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 1          supported training programs for the renewable 

 2          energy sector.  These will be detailed in the 

 3          task force report due in April.  I know there 

 4          are several programs that will be included.

 5                 But more importantly, Department of 

 6          Labor is meeting with every individual 

 7          employee of the plant and determining for 

 8          each employee what the best track will be, 

 9          whether they want to participate in 

10          retraining programs, whether there are other 

11          employment opportunities within Entergy to 

12          stay at the plant post-closure or at other 

13          plants in the state or at other utilities in 

14          the state.

15                 And so there will be a detailed 

16          employment plan for each individual wishing 

17          to participate in that process.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  So there are 

19          plans to keep some employees through the 

20          decommissioning process?

21                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  That will 

22          be determined.  

23                 There will be a number of employees 

24          that will have to stay on post-closure even 


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 1          before decommissioning, just for the safe 

 2          transition of the fuel from the spent fuel 

 3          pools into dry cask storage.  

 4                 So for the sort of transition between 

 5          closure and decommissioning, they will need 

 6          to maintain a certain number of staff both in 

 7          operations and in security.  And that's 

 8          important -- even after decommissioning, they 

 9          will need to maintain a security force on the 

10          site.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Now, minus the 

12          security force, how many jobs are we talking 

13          about?

14                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  The total 

15          employees are approximately a thousand.  And 

16          there will be a gradual phase-out over the 

17          years post-closure of those positions.  And 

18          like I said, a portion of those will be 

19          necessary to be on-site for the transition 

20          and for security. 

21                 There's a large percentage of the 

22          employees who will be retirement-eligible at 

23          that time.  So they, I think, at Entergy 

24          expect that there will be -- a certain amount 


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 1          of the reductions will be achieved through 

 2          retirement.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay, thank you.

 4                 Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Chairman, good 

 7          afternoon.

 8                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Senator.

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thanks for being 

10          here.  

11                 A few questions on the Clean Energy 

12          Fund, rather than the Clean Energy Standard.  

13          How much has been collected so far under the 

14          new rates imposed for the Clean Energy Fund 

15          that are being paid by ratepayers on their 

16          bills?

17                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Senator, I'll 

18          have to get back to you on that.  What I can 

19          tell you is that the Clean Energy Fund, when 

20          it was put in place I believe in February of 

21          last year, both immediately started with a 

22          collection reduction of I believe $85 million 

23          from the prior year, and instituted basically 

24          a pay-as-you-go model where, you know, the 


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 1          collections would keep pace with the amount 

 2          needed to make the commitments that NYSERDA 

 3          was making.

 4                 So I'd have to get back to you on the 

 5          numbers, but the design of the Clean Energy 

 6          Fund was both to reduce collections and to 

 7          moderate the timing of those collections to 

 8          when those were actually needed to make 

 9          commitments.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And is it correct 

11          that the Clean Energy Fund, those fees being 

12          collected were a replacement of all the other 

13          fees that were on the bills, such as the 18A 

14          fees, the RGGI fees, all these things that 

15          are on there?  Because we've got one line 

16          item on there now for all this?

17                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The Clean Energy 

18          Fund collections really are a consolidation 

19          of several other collections.  There's kind 

20          of an alphabet soup of EEPS and SBC and SBC2.  

21          So it is a consolidation of those.  

22                 But it does not include the items that 

23          you mentioned, 18A, which is on the bill, nor 

24          does it include RGGI, which is a separate 


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 1          financial path.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So you really can't 

 3          tell me how much has been collected in the 

 4          Clean Energy Fund since last February?  

 5                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I'll have to get 

 6          back to you, because I know what we 

 7          authorized and I know we told -- I'm sorry, 

 8          the Public Service Commission at the time 

 9          told me, when I was at NYSERDA, to manage the 

10          funding so as not to take it before it was 

11          needed.  And so it's -- there's a matter of 

12          timing.  I'll just have to get back to you on 

13          where we stand on that.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How much was in 

15          reserves at the time the transition was made 

16          to the Clean Energy Fund last February?

17                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I don't know.  

18          I'll get back to you on that.  

19                 We shared the number with this 

20          committee over the years.  It was a larger 

21          number than we liked, and is part of the 

22          rationale behind the pay-as-you-go model we 

23          implemented.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I'm somewhat at a 


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 1          loss that you don't have answers to these 

 2          pretty basic questions, coming here to 

 3          testify at our budget hearing today.

 4                 Can you tell me where the Clean Energy 

 5          Fund -- where are they being expended 

 6          throughout the last year?

 7                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So the Clean 

 8          Energy Fund has four -- and the president of 

 9          NYSERDA is here.  The Clean Energy Fund has 

10          four portfolios, I believe they call them.  

11          So there is NY-Sun, which is a billion-dollar 

12          commitment to achieve 3 gigawatts of solar 

13          deployment in the state.  So that accounts 

14          for about a billion of the Clean Energy 

15          Fund's total.

16                 There's capitalization of -- 

17          completion of the capitalization of the Green 

18          Bank to the tune of about $840 million or 

19          $850 million that is being drawn down as the 

20          Green Bank is making its financial 

21          commitments.  

22                 There's about $700 million to be spent 

23          over 10 years on research and innovation.  

24          And that is about the pace that it's going 


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 1          on.  And then there's about $2.7 billion, 

 2          again over 10 years, on something called 

 3          market development, which is principally 

 4          energy efficiency, although that's also the 

 5          vehicle for funding things that have been 

 6          talked about here today, like anaerobic 

 7          digesters and the like.  So these energy 

 8          efficiency plus farm digestion setups account 

 9          for half of the spend of the Clean Energy 

10          Fund.

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Was that market 

12          development, was that $2.7 billion?

13                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yes, over 10 

14          years.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  With a B.

16                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yes.

17                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Can you provide us 

18          with specific breakdowns of each of those 

19          portfolios you mentioned, as to where exactly 

20          those resources are going?

21                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We can.  And I 

22          know that NYSERDA provides detailed reports 

23          to both houses, I believe on a six-monthly 

24          basis.  But yes, we can certainly get you 


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 1          that.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Let me switch to 

 3          the -- I believe it's Part F, or the fees for 

 4          the infrastructure for running cables, fiber 

 5          optics, along rights-of-way.

 6                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  This is a 

 7          Thruway Authority proposal or --

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Oh, is this DOT?  

 9          Okay, that's transportation.  That's not 

10          anything that PSC is overlooking?

11                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  No.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  All right.  That's it 

13          for now.

14                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Thank you, 

15          Senator.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

17          Englebright.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

19          very much, gentlemen.  

20                 I'm concerned about the issues 

21          relating to solar, and most particularly to 

22          the way that solar is envisioned for the 

23          future in order to meet the state's renewable 

24          energy goals.  There is a successful program 


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 1          that's been helping to propel the small-scale 

 2          solar forward to the point where we now have 

 3          a measurable amount of solar on a statewide 

 4          basis with the net metering.  Much of that is 

 5          on individual buildings and is located, you 

 6          know, really in a distributed model, as 

 7          opposed to a concentrated-site model.  It has 

 8          created thousands of jobs of installers and 

 9          has been increasing welcomed by the general 

10          public.  

11                 Now we have new regulations coming 

12          down from the Public Service Commission which 

13          have caused great concern to many of those 

14          who are in this industry because these 

15          regulations are confusing and have the 

16          functional effect of causing what had been a 

17          predictable incentive in the marketplace for 

18          unpredictability.  That has, in turn, brought 

19          about a measurable, palpable 

20          disincentivization within the marketplace to 

21          continue to go in the direction of solar for 

22          small-scale or distributed solar.

23                 And some have suggested that net 

24          metering is succeeding to register in the 


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 1          market in such a way that it's a threat to 

 2          large-scale single-site energy providers, and 

 3          that they are behind this, this confusing set 

 4          of new expectations.

 5                 And so I wonder, what's your 

 6          perspective?  Because it's coming from your 

 7          agency.

 8                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So my view is 

 9          that I think solar remains a success.  I 

10          believe we have got about 1 gigawatt, 1,000 

11          megawatts, installed in the state, and we 

12          have about that much again in the pipeline 

13          that is under development.

14                 And for the first time -- and again, I 

15          encourage you to talk to my colleague the 

16          president of NYSERDA -- we have received 

17          large -- the state has received, under their 

18          solicitation, it's a very exciting 

19          development, large-scale solar proposals, 

20          some of which are quite competitive.  So the 

21          market momentum is continuing.

22                 With respect to the issues that you 

23          raise, the net metering does remain in place 

24          for residential consumers -- rooftop solar.  


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 1          For the next level up, which until last week 

 2          was up to 2 megawatts, there's been a 

 3          transition away from net metering to 

 4          something called value stack, which is -- 

 5          it's a formula with a lot of terms in it, but 

 6          it's not that complicated for those who are 

 7          in the business and who can make it their 

 8          business to understand these things.  

 9                 And particularly in a shared solar 

10          model, it's fairly clear that the projects 

11          are coming along unabated.  And in the past 

12          few months, while this has been going on, 

13          we've had over a hundred of these community 

14          solar projects move along, pay a hundred 

15          percent of their development costs and 

16          account for more than a third of the 

17          pipeline.  

18                 And I made a little point about until 

19          last week the size was up to 2 megawatts.  

20          The commission ruled that we would increase 

21          the cap for that mechanism to 5 megawatts, 

22          which is a move that is welcomed by solar 

23          developers.  They like the idea.  I'll be 

24          frank; we did it to protect consumers, 


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 1          because it reduces costs in a way that's 

 2          beneficial to our strategies and good for 

 3          ratepayers all around.

 4                 So there's complexity involved, but 

 5          we're making progress.  The numbers in terms 

 6          of what's getting built and what's getting 

 7          invested in are extremely encouraging.  And 

 8          despite the complexity of the process, the 

 9          developers still consider New York one of the 

10          top states.  And when they think about 

11          regulatory stability, which is often a factor 

12          for them, we compare very favorably to some 

13          states in the Southwest where there's been 

14          quite a bit of turmoil, and that's just not 

15          something we have.

16                 So if the objective is to get stuff 

17          built, stuff that we want, that's happening.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Well, 

19          "stuff" needs a little clarification.  

20          Getting stuff built really should not be the 

21          goal.  The goal should be to reduce our 

22          carbon footprint and to do it in a way that 

23          has the maximum benefit for long-term 

24          stability --


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 1                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's right, 

 2          sir.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  -- and 

 4          maximum utilization of technology.

 5                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's correct, 

 6          sir.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I am very 

 8          concerned, within that context, that I don't 

 9          see much coming from your agency regarding 

10          the use -- maybe I just missed it, but I 

11          don't see much regarding the marriage between 

12          small-scale solar and geothermal on a 

13          building-by-building basis, and instead I 

14          hear you saying with excitement that 

15          large-scale solar is --

16                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Sir, we're --

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  -- is 

18          increasing, when in fact -- if I could just 

19          finish -- it should, it seems to me, be 

20          small-scale solar that should be increasing.  

21                 And I am concerned that if we come 

22          back and look at this emphasis that's coming 

23          from your agency toward large-scale solar to 

24          essentially replace or be a part of 


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 1          large-scale corporate investments made in the 

 2          past for single-site energy provision, that 

 3          this is a misdirection and not the best use 

 4          of the technology.  

 5                 Something like two-thirds of our 

 6          energy footprint statewide is in heating and 

 7          cooling.  Why are we not trying to develop 

 8          on-site single-building and small-scale for 

 9          attached buildings, the use of the latent 

10          heating groundwater driven by solar pushing a 

11          small motor?  Rather than to have a 

12          substitute power plant that is essentially 

13          using solar technology and is being pushed by 

14          investors who are really not so interested in 

15          the appropriate goals of reducing the 

16          reliance and dependency on large single-site 

17          investment, but instead to have a distributed 

18          investment?

19                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Let me correct 

20          an impression.  When I said that the pipeline 

21          that we have this year, that's going to get 

22          built within months, is more than double what 

23          we already have installed, that pipeline was 

24          all smaller-scale.  In addition, we're seeing 


                                                                   330

 1          good news on the larger-scale, which I think 

 2          is good news for the state.

 3                 So we are absolutely encouraging of, 

 4          both in design of our policies and programs 

 5          and in the effects that are happening in the 

 6          market, of rooftop solar and of solar 

 7          on-premises that makes sense for customers.

 8                 And we are absolutely convinced that 

 9          distributed solutions -- and solar is the 

10          pioneer of distributed solutions -- are 

11          really good for our energy and climate 

12          system.  

13                 And I will agree with you that 

14          geothermal as a solution to -- basically for 

15          renewable heating and cooling, is a 

16          technology whose time has come, and it is 

17          here and now, and it's not too soon.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  No, it's not 

19          too soon.  And it will have a dramatic 

20          impact.  I'm just looking forward 20 years 

21          from now.  I hope that we have in fact a 

22          distributed model that is the main model -- 

23          we can walk and chew gum at the same time.  

24          We can have some large-scale sites.  As you 


                                                                   331

 1          rightly point out, those are -- they have a 

 2          place.  But the emphasis that comes from your 

 3          agency will help drive the long-term 

 4          percentage of what we see as either 

 5          distributed or large-scale single-site.

 6                 And I'm hoping that you will help push 

 7          and allow what was happening because, quite 

 8          frankly, the net metering approach wasn't 

 9          broken, and you're fixing something that 

10          wasn't broken with your new complex 

11          regulations.

12                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  You can count on 

13          our commitment to distributed, sir.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Senator Krueger.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good afternoon.

18                 So going back to the REV questions, so 

19          the state's made a commitment to reach 50 

20          percent renewable energy by 2030.  California 

21          says it can do it by 2020.  

22                 So two questions.  One, are we on 

23          target to meet 50 percent renewable energy by 

24          2030?  And what could we do to get there 


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 1          sooner?

 2                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  First question, 

 3          yes, as I -- it's the same answer I gave to 

 4          Assemblyman Cusick.  We are on track to get 

 5          there.

 6                 To get there sooner, we're going to 

 7          rely on and bet on some technology progress.  

 8          And the way the world is working these days 

 9          is that pretty much every aspect of clean 

10          energy technology is getting cheaper and more 

11          cost-effective.  You think you're watching 

12          television prices come down, but -- and it's 

13          good news across the board.  

14                 The two that offer the most promise -- 

15          and again, I'm going to put my colleague on 

16          the spot, but offshore wind has seen a cost 

17          decline in the last two years of 50 percent.  

18          Costs have come down by half, which is 

19          remarkable and extremely promising.  And when 

20          coupled with just the fact that New York 

21          State is beautifully located with a terrific 

22          resource, offshore downstate, that's very 

23          encouraging and should help us get to our 

24          goals in some combination of faster, cheaper 


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 1          and higher certainty.

 2                 And the other technology -- which is 

 3          not strictly about renewables, but you can 

 4          see as I mention it that it is very 

 5          renewable-enabling -- is storage.  And it's 

 6          an absolute requirement, as you have more 

 7          renewables come onto the system, that you 

 8          have a way to store that energy for smarter, 

 9          later, more helpful to the system, more 

10          useful when consumers need it use of that 

11          energy.  

12                 And that too is seeing cost declines 

13          as well as really terrific, you know, 

14          advances in software that just make the 

15          solutions more useful.  And that's coming in 

16          all sizes, including the kind of sizes that 

17          we care most about for the energy system.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I'm going to bet 

19          with you that we could do it sooner and we 

20          could do it cheaper, because I read the 

21          reports coming out from around the world and 

22          go, oh, it's happening so quickly, and prices 

23          are coming down and people are being able to 

24          scale up with new sustainable energy.


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 1                 So if that's true -- and I'm very 

 2          optimistic that it is -- why are we at the 

 3          same time massively expanding our natural gas 

 4          infrastructure in New York State, when that 

 5          doesn't fall under the category of clean and 

 6          sustainable energy?

 7                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Well, I'm going 

 8          to dispute the characterization that we're 

 9          massively expanding our natural gas 

10          infrastructure.  We're taking a measured 

11          approach to the expansion of the 

12          infrastructure that we have a say over, which 

13          is really the distribution of an 

14          infrastructure, and where it makes economic 

15          sense and where it provides environmental 

16          benefit by displacing even other fuel, fossil 

17          fuels which are worse actors, it's good for 

18          New Yorkers, and it can make sense as part of 

19          the integrated plan.

20                 Our bet with you, which we make with 

21          some confidence, is that the renewable 

22          technologies, the cleaner technologies are 

23          just going to get cheaper and better.  And as 

24          you create more of those options, then you 


                                                                   335

 1          can steer the portfolio.  And so it's a 

 2          measured approach.  We do it in those cases 

 3          where it makes sense.  And I can just see the 

 4          fundamental economics diminishing in the 

 5          realms where it's going to make sense over 

 6          time.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And I said massive 

 8          expansion because I believe the Albany Times 

 9          Union today had an editorial talking about a 

10          report that came out I think while we were 

11          sitting in this room, with 23 new natural gas 

12          infrastructure projects on the table by the 

13          Cuomo administration.  So that sounded like a 

14          lot to me.

15                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That may be -- 

16          those probably are not of the ones that come 

17          before us if they're pipelines and the like.  

18                 To the extent that they're generation 

19          projects, they will come before the Siting 

20          Board.  The Siting Board, of course -- I 

21          shouldn't say of course -- is very directly 

22          concerned with environmental and community 

23          impacts as well as cost-effectiveness and our 

24          policy alignment.


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 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Change of topic.  So 

 2          over the last few months, many of us have 

 3          been following the story of a very bad FCC 

 4          decision killing net neutrality standards 

 5          that were put into effect by the Obama 

 6          administration.  There's lawsuits, the 

 7          Governor has a commitment to trying to keep 

 8          us in net neutrality in New York, and has put 

 9          out an executive order saying agencies and 

10          municipalities can't enter internet 

11          contracts -- excuse me, they can't enter 

12          contracts with service providers who don't 

13          respect net neutrality.  

14                 But what can we do to protect private 

15          consumers and their right to net neutrality 

16          within New York State?

17                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Well, I believe 

18          that the intent of the executive order is not 

19          just to protect those state entity consumers 

20          but to use the power of an important and 

21          meaningful customer in order to persuade, as 

22          you can in our market economy, providers that 

23          these are the standards, you know, that they 

24          should stick to.


                                                                   337

 1                 So those policies are for all 

 2          consumers, to the benefit of all consumers, 

 3          and to protect them against the erosion of 

 4          net neutrality.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And this shows my 

 6          lack of understanding, but I was in 

 7          discussions just yesterday morning with city 

 8          colleagues in New York City government about 

 9          frustrations around the failure of 

10          Charter/Spectrum to deliver on their 

11          commitments for internet service through the 

12          franchise agreement with the city, and the 

13          discussion about what the city couldn't do 

14          about it because of the FCC superseding.

15                 And I'm just curious, do we think the 

16          state, through the PSC or through some other 

17          role that the state might have about 

18          franchises throughout the state except for 

19          New York City, could use their power somehow 

20          to ensure that if you don't follow our 

21          definition of net neutrality, you're just not 

22          getting contracts to franchise or do anything 

23          anywhere in our state?

24                 And again, it was a badly worded 


                                                                   338

 1          question, but hopefully you understand.  

 2                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Sure.  So when 

 3          the commission approved Charter's acquisition 

 4          of Time Warner Cable, which I believe was 

 5          about two years ago, that approval was 

 6          conditioned upon some commitments by the 

 7          company.  And although, as a standard 

 8          regulatory matter, the commission does not 

 9          have great regulatory jurisdiction over cable 

10          and broadband companies, we do have 

11          enforcement power over contractual 

12          commitments, settlement commitments that 

13          companies make to us.

14                 And so we are very mindful of holding 

15          in this case Charter -- but honestly, we hold 

16          every company to the standard of keeping 

17          their commitments.  And in this case we're 

18          especially focused on the broadband buildout, 

19          which is an upstate endeavor.  But to the 

20          extent that they are falling short on 

21          commitments on other dimensions, including 

22          fulfillment of their franchise agreement 

23          conditions, and to the extent that they are 

24          falling short in other parts of the state, 


                                                                   339

 1          not just upstate, we are going to be 

 2          extremely attentive and are going to use -- 

 3          we're going to be hawks on making them keep 

 4          their commitment.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I might do some 

 6          matchmaking between you and the City of 

 7          New York on this issue.  I think that the 

 8          Attorney General is also suing on some of the 

 9          issues, so --

10                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I believe that's 

11          the case.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yes.  All right.  

13          Thank you very much.  My time is up.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

15          Jenne.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.

17                 Good afternoon.

18                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Hi.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I'm going to 

20          probably -- a little wide-ranging things 

21          here.

22                 You mentioned that the Governor 

23          desires to capture the windfall that the 

24          utilities are going to have from the federal 


                                                                   340

 1          tax plan.  Is that correct?

 2                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The commission 

 3          is pursuing a proceeding to capture that 

 4          windfall for the benefit of New York 

 5          customers, yes.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay, perfect.  

 7          So that benefit is where I'd like to zero in 

 8          on.  And I just wonder if those specific 

 9          benefits have been identified or if there 

10          will just be an offset on the bill.  You 

11          know, a -- or how do we plan to deliver that 

12          benefit?

13                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So there are 

14          options available to us.  One of the things 

15          about my job is that when we open a 

16          proceeding, I can't really comment on it in 

17          great detail.  I'm discovering it.  But I 

18          think I can listen to suggestions.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  Well, you 

20          know, as -- you know, as important as it is 

21          to try to keep our bills low in the short 

22          term, I also think it's important for us to 

23          maybe try to tackle some issues that have 

24          plagued the state for quite some time.  And 


                                                                   341

 1          while I know that it was referenced that in 

 2          2013 we made some investments in upgrading 

 3          transmission, I would argue that I still have 

 4          difficulty getting the energy that's produced 

 5          in my region of the state to other regions of 

 6          the state that would really like our power 

 7          that we generate.

 8                 And so I think it would benefit all of 

 9          the state, both the power-producing, 

10          generating parts of the state and those that 

11          need more energy, if we would invest more 

12          into upgrading transmission so that the 

13          energy can flow freely throughout the state.

14                 That also leads me into the siting 

15          issues.  And, you know, one of my colleagues 

16          talked extensively about having these big 

17          generating facilities and should we be 

18          looking more at distributive types of 

19          generation, although the big facilities do 

20          have their place.

21                 Well, I have these facilities that 

22          have their place, but we're bringing in, 

23          proposed in the pipeline, these renewables 

24          that because of the problems with 


                                                                   342

 1          transmission are closing down existing 

 2          generating facilities.  Specifically I have 

 3          biomass facilities that are closing down 

 4          because they can't make it, even though 

 5          they're green energy, because they can't sell 

 6          their power into more lucrative markets 

 7          because of problems with transmission -- yet 

 8          I've got 10 wind power facilities either in 

 9          the queue or in development at some level.  

10          And that doesn't even touch what you're 

11          talking about in terms of the solar 

12          proliferation and how great those things are.

13                 And so, you know, I'm from farm 

14          country, so we're putting the cart before the 

15          horse because we can't get the power out of 

16          my area.  And why are we allowing existing 

17          sited generation that now is part of our 

18          landscape to shut down so that we can throw 

19          even more money per megawatt at just a 

20          different type of green energy generation?

21                 So I just -- I have concerns that our 

22          goal is laudable but we're really screwing up 

23          the on-the-ground details.

24                 I'll add into this issue I guess a 


                                                                   343

 1          question.  I've heard rumors that Fort Drum 

 2          is going to be given a seat on the siting 

 3          board for these projects that are in close 

 4          proximity.  What is the status of those 

 5          discussions, as I understand that they're 

 6          emanating from the Governor's office -- has 

 7          Fort Drum been given a spot on the board for 

 8          these projects that are near them?  And if 

 9          so, is it a voting position or anything of 

10          that nature, or are they just going to be 

11          able to nod or go back and forth?

12                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The proposal to 

13          give I believe the Department of Defense a 

14          seat on the board is something I read about 

15          this morning, and it was news to me.  So -- 

16          it was Senator Ritchie's proposal, as I read 

17          it.  But --

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I'll just say 

19          that proposal emanates from something I think 

20          that came out of -- came from the Governor 

21          directly.  It is something that was told to 

22          us as local legislators would happen, it 

23          wouldn't necessitate the need for legislative 

24          action.  You know, we can differ about what 


                                                                   344

 1          needs to happen, but that was something that 

 2          was communicated to us, as local 

 3          representatives, that would happen.

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So I have to 

 5          defer to you, you're aware of facts that I 

 6          don't know.

 7                 But let me talk about -- if I can 

 8          respond a little bit to the larger question, 

 9          which is, you know, we -- we absolutely 

10          believe that Fort Drum, the base, and the 

11          Department of Defense -- and however they 

12          want to tag-team that between them -- deserve 

13          an important hearing when it comes to siting 

14          these projects.  And we've been in discussion 

15          with both -- with senior officials at the 

16          Department of Defense and at the base and 

17          have done the best we can to explain our 

18          Article 10 process, the one that governs the 

19          work of the Siting Board that I mentioned.  

20          And they have been very clear that they 

21          believe that the Siting Board as it is set up 

22          gives them the right venue to make their 

23          concerns heard and to hear -- to have those 

24          concerns be accommodated in a way that makes 


                                                                   345

 1          most sense for all the considerations that 

 2          have to be balanced.

 3                 So in the larger picture, the 

 4          Article 10 process needs to -- and I think is 

 5          designed to -- find a way to include those 

 6          concerns and get them handled, mitigated, 

 7          reflected in whatever way that's needed.

 8                 You mentioned other kinds of 

 9          renewables, I assume you're talking about -- 

10          you mentioned biomass and --

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Yes.  And, you 

12          know, hydro is near and dear to my heart as 

13          well.

14                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yes.  And we've 

15          -- we issued late last fall a maintenance 

16          tier order that specifically gives those 

17          facilities that are in economic need a 

18          pathway to getting the missing money met so 

19          they can stay in operation.  And it's our 

20          understanding that some of the facilities 

21          that you're referring to are in fact, you 

22          know, moving forward to take advantage of 

23          that.  It's our understanding that for their 

24          own business reasons, some of the biomass 


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 1          projects are making other decisions.

 2                 And then you mentioned transmission as 

 3          a -- I forget what words you used, but to me 

 4          it sounded like unbottling this resource.  

 5          And absolutely that needs to happen, and it 

 6          needs to happen in a smart and thoughtful 

 7          way.  Again, siting rears its head as an 

 8          issue with transmission lines.  But --

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I'd rather have 

10          a power line than a 5-mile line of tankers or 

11          barges lined up in the Hudson.

12                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Understood.  So 

13          not to -- only to say this is a process that 

14          needs to be worked.  But the Governor has 

15          laid down some markers, and we're near 

16          completion of the Energy Highway with the 

17          AC transmission when that unfolds later this 

18          year.  And we're looking ahead.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  All right, I 

20          just think --

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

22          We'll move on to the Senate.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I'll come back.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, good.

 2                 So there was -- Senator O'Mara started 

 3          the discussion about the Clean Energy 

 4          Standard and REV.  And as far as the CES 

 5          goes, the Clean Energy Standard, as you know, 

 6          this system was put in place without the 

 7          input of the Legislature.  And the CES, 

 8          however, is largely funded by ratepayers, 

 9          slash, taxpayers.  So can you tell us, give 

10          us an accounting of how much has been 

11          collected from the taxpayers since the CES 

12          was put in place?

13                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I will get that 

14          to you.  I believe you're talking both about 

15          the Clean Energy Fund, with an F, which I 

16          think was Senator O'Mara's focus -- but we 

17          could also talk about the billing tax 

18          associated with the Clean Energy Standard.  

19          We'll get you an accounting of that 

20          information.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Could you 

22          ballpark it, guesstimate how much?

23                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The Clean Energy 

24          Fund had authorizations last year of 500 -- 


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 1          in the high 500s of authorized.  As I 

 2          explained --

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  500 million?

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yes.  And as I 

 5          explained to Senator O'Mara, under the 

 6          pay-as-you-go construct that was adopted, 

 7          what was actually collected was considerably 

 8          less, so that's what I have to get to you.  

 9          And that number is coming down steadily each 

10          year.  And so we can get you both the 

11          authorized numbers as those come down, as 

12          well as the collection numbers.  

13                 And the Clean Energy Standard is -- 

14          it's hard to do just now, and I say this 

15          because the first major action under the 

16          Clean Energy Standard is a significant 

17          procurement that is near completion with 

18          NYSERDA, and I'm not privy to the numbers 

19          that they will ultimately release.  But as 

20          soon as those become available, and hopefully 

21          they'll be completing their work soon, we can 

22          certainly share with you the consequences -- 

23          the impact on ratepayers of that as well.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And so just to 


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 1          clarify, that money came directly out of 

 2          ratepayers.

 3                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's right.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you.

 5                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Or will come.  

 6          But yes.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  And you said 

 8          it's being worked on right now as far as 

 9          accounting for it.  When will that be ready?

10                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I'm sorry, we 

11          can get you the accounting for the Clean 

12          Energy Fund by the end of the week.  

13                 To the extent that we're talking about 

14          the renewable procurement, which is the 

15          Clean Energy Standard -- I'm sorry to be so 

16          fussy -- NYSERDA has work to do to complete 

17          its procurement and decide how much of what 

18          it's actually going to do.  Once that work is 

19          complete, we'll be in a position to quickly 

20          turn around an estimate of ratepayer impact 

21          for you.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  So thank you 

23          for that answer.  

24                 So we're talking about more -- much 


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 1          more than $500 million in additional costs to 

 2          ratepayers in New York State.  Can you please 

 3          provide us with an accounting of exactly how 

 4          that money will be used that the ratepayers, 

 5          the taxpayers have given the state?

 6                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yes.  That is in 

 7          fact laid out in the Clean Energy Fund, and 

 8          it is laid out in reports that again the 

 9          Senate and the Assembly asked for from 

10          NYSERDA I believe two years ago and you've 

11          been receiving on a six-monthly basis since 

12          then.  But we can certainly get you the 

13          latest accounting.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Now, the Green Bank 

15          is part of the Clean Energy Fund, correct?

16                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's right.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  So Part EE 

18          of the Governor's proposal authorizes NYSERDA 

19          to obtain revenue from a special assessment 

20          on gas and electric companies not to exceed 

21          $19.7 million for certain projects, including 

22          NYSERDA's Energy Policy and Planning Program, 

23          which involves the Green Bank.

24                 As you know, the Green Bank is a 


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 1          state-run investment bank funded by NYSERDA 

 2          using funds from utility customers.  And it 

 3          is one part of the state's 10-year, 

 4          $5 billion Clean Energy Fund.

 5                 So how many people does the Green Bank 

 6          employ, where are their offices, and how is 

 7          the staff organized?

 8                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I'm going to 

 9          suggest that you direct those questions to 

10          the president of NYSERDA, who's right behind 

11          me.  

12                 I could give you estimates that I'm 

13          familiar with as of -- I could give you the 

14          numbers that I'm familiar with as of seven 

15          months ago, but ...

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, so you don't 

17          have direct knowledge of those, even though 

18          they're part of the Clean Energy Fund?

19                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Well, you're 

20          asking relative -- I believe the number of 

21          the staff is probably in the 17 or 18 range.  

22          The offices are in NYSERDA's offices in New 

23          York City.  And I'm sorry, I forget the third 

24          element you asked about.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, so I will 

 2          follow up on that.

 3                 But back to the Clean Energy Standard, 

 4          taxpayers were promised that they would see 

 5          savings in their utility bills, which was 

 6          even built into the annual investment plan 

 7          report that was issued on June 30th of 2017.  

 8          Can you say when they will start to see these 

 9          savings?

10                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We're already 

11          starting to see savings.  A good example of 

12          that is the Brooklyn-Queens Demand Management 

13          Project in Brooklyn and Queens in the city, 

14          where under REV, the commission -- the 

15          department worked with Con Ed to develop an 

16          approach to make smarter investments which I 

17          believe have already resulted in cost savings 

18          of 97 or so million dollars.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So is there a place 

20          where this is quantified?  Is there some kind 

21          of report that the Legislature can look at 

22          regarding this?

23                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We can get that 

24          to you.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That would be 

 2          helpful.

 3                 And then can you point on a consumer's 

 4          bill, is there a section on the bill where 

 5          you can show that the consumers are being 

 6          charged for this cost?  Because as you know, 

 7          there are other taxes and fees and so on, 

 8          charges on a consumer's bill, that are 

 9          outlined.  But I don't believe that the CES 

10          costs are outlined on the bills.  Is that the 

11          case?

12                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I'm sorry, Clean 

13          Energy Standard or Fund?

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I apologize.  Fund.

15                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Those I believe 

16          are outlined.  But I will confirm.  But let 

17          me get back to you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes, I would like 

19          to see that.  Because it's my understanding 

20          that it's not outlined.

21                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I'll make sure 

22          to get the facts to you.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 


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 1          Colton.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  (Inaudible.)

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Mic.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  I think it's on 

 5          now, yes.

 6                 Earlier you had indicated that about a 

 7          quarter, or 24 percent, estimated about 

 8          24 percent renewable energy was of the 

 9          electricity in New York, and that -- did you 

10          say solar was about 1 percent?

11                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I did.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  And 3 percent 

13          wind.

14                 What are the other percentages --

15                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  It's principally 

16          hydro.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Okay, so 

18          probably -- basically hydro.

19                 Now, in terms of hydro, do you have 

20          oversight over projects that develop with 

21          hydro-generated electricity?

22                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  It's -- it's a 

23          mixed story.  There are larger hydro 

24          facilities that tend to be operated by the 


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 1          New York Power Authority.  There are smaller 

 2          facilities that are of the magnitude that 

 3          Assemblywoman Jenne was speaking about that 

 4          go up to 10 megawatts or so, that we do have 

 5          jurisdiction over.  And we provide various 

 6          policy and program supports to.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  Have you -- are 

 8          you aware of any hydro-generated projects 

 9          that have been -- basically come online in 

10          the last year or so?

11                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  There are 

12          possibly some upgrades that have expanded 

13          capacity, but I'm not aware of any -- I'm not 

14          sure what the right word is -- greenfield.  

15          But, you know, from-scratch projects.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  So would you 

17          believe that most of the increase in 

18          renewables -- which we're going to have to do 

19          to reach the goal and even exceed the goal, 

20          we would hope -- would have to come from 

21          non-hydro sources?  Or what would be your 

22          expectation?

23                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  My expectations 

24          are that solar and wind, including the 


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 1          offshore flavor of wind, are going to be -- 

 2          it's a near certainty that those will be the 

 3          principal pillars of that achievement.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  And are there any 

 5          initiatives that we can use in order to 

 6          increase the amount of wind and solar so that 

 7          we can continue to move towards the goal and, 

 8          as I said, hopefully reach it sooner and 

 9          greater?

10                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We believe that 

11          the package of policies and initiatives that 

12          we have -- well, we're sure that the package 

13          of initiatives that we have is the best that 

14          we can come up with as we understand it 

15          today.

16                 So those principally are, where 

17          appropriate, support funding for certain 

18          projects -- the Clean Energy Standard and 

19          NY-Sun are examples of that.  They are 

20          policies that recognize the reality that in 

21          some places, distributed solutions like solar 

22          actually add value to the grid.  And if you 

23          add value to the grid, maybe you should get 

24          paid for some of that value you add, which 


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 1          would make the project more investable.  

 2                 So that's at the heart of REV that 

 3          we're working on.  And locational as well as 

 4          the idea that if the solar is producing at 

 5          the time of day when it's most needed -- 

 6          facing west, so afternoon peak, that same 

 7          thing.  

 8                 We are working to get and may keep our 

 9          siting policies focused on appropriate 

10          siting.  There are places that are suitable 

11          for these renewables.  There are places that 

12          are less suitable for these renewables.  

13          There are places where there's -- where the 

14          community concerns and sentiments are deeply 

15          in favor of these renewables, and there are 

16          other places where those are not the case.  

17          All those considerations need to be 

18          accommodated.  

19                 And then as Congressman Jenne -- 

20          excuse me, Assemblywoman Jenne pointed out -- 

21          I didn't say that.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  (Inaudible.)

23                 (Laughter.)

24                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Sorry.  Making 


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 1          sure that we have, again, an appropriately 

 2          sited transmission system that gets the 

 3          energy from where it makes sense to produce 

 4          it to where it wants to be consumed, that we 

 5          have those as well.

 6                 So those are the main ingredients.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN COLTON:  My time is about 

 8          up, but I just wanted to say that I agree 

 9          with the chair of the Environmental Committee 

10          in terms of the concern about individual 

11          solar projects and net metering and so forth 

12          as it affects them.

13                 Thank you.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator O'Mara.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yes, Chairman, 

16          following up on the Clean Energy Standard.  

17          And you responded to a few questions that we 

18          are on target to meet those percentages going 

19          forward?

20                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yes, I did.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And the investment in 

22          the clean energy, where has that been coming 

23          from?

24                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Historically 


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 1          it's come from a few buckets, and going 

 2          forward it's coming from a few buckets.  

 3          There's a little bit of time shift.  But 

 4          historically there is a Renewable Portfolio 

 5          Standard, which --

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Those -- I think you 

 7          misinterpreted my question.  Those are 

 8          sources of funds that you're helping assist 

 9          these projects with.  What industry, what 

10          companies are making the investments and 

11          undertaking these clean energy projects?  

12          They're not state-owned and -developed 

13          projects; correct?

14                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Some of them in 

15          fact are state-owned companies.  All of them, 

16          by definition -- these are construction 

17          projects, effectively, and construction is a 

18          local activity.  And the job generation 

19          associated with these projects is local job 

20          generation.  In some cases, there is 

21          meaningful -- the meaningful job generation 

22          is you build it and then it's there; in other 

23          cases --

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yeah, but -- but who 


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 1          owns it when it's built?

 2                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The developer 

 3          owns it.  In some cases --

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Can you break down 

 5          who the types of developers are -- private 

 6          industry, private marketplace, government, 

 7          utilities?  

 8                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The developers 

 9          are all private companies.  From time to time 

10          the resource is owned by the property owner, 

11          because that's a model that exists.  To the 

12          extent that that property owner is a 

13          government entity, such as a school, then 

14          they own it.  But by and large those property 

15          owners with solar, generally, on their 

16          premises are private entities as well.  Or 

17          not-for-profits such as other schools.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Right, okay.

19                 So we're meeting our goals and 

20          standards with private investment into 

21          these --

22                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's the 

23          design, and that's what's happening.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And we're doing that.  


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 1          So can you tell me why we need to authorize 

 2          NYPA to construct their own renewable energy 

 3          facilities?

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I think that's a 

 5          question best posed to NYPA.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Is that -- you're 

 7          working with the Clean Energy Standard, and 

 8          certainly those projects are going to factor 

 9          into that.  You're saying you're not involved 

10          with that at all?

11                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We -- we 

12          administer the Clean Energy Standard, and we 

13          have designed and work with NYSERDA to help 

14          them design aspects of it that, you know, 

15          welcome all developers that make sense.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  But if we're meeting 

17          our goals with private marketplace 

18          investment, then why does a governmental 

19          entity have to get involved in the process?

20                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I think you'd 

21          have to ask NYPA what the business case is.  

22          And I'm sure they have one if it's their 

23          proposal.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  Of our 


                                                                   362

 1          renewable energy that we have -- I forgot 

 2          what percentage you said.  What percentage 

 3          are we at now of our whole renewable 

 4          portfolio in the state?

 5                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I -- if you'll 

 6          accept an estimate, I'd say we're at about 28 

 7          or 29.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And how much of that 

 9          is hydro?

10                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  About 24.

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  So 4 percent 

12          is solar and wind at this point?

13                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  And I believe 

14          that it's approximately 3 percent wind and 1 

15          percent solar.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  So we've got a 

17          large percentage to make up with wind and 

18          solar.

19                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's correct.

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Because there's 

21          really not a whole lot of expandable hydro at 

22          this point.

23                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We believe there 

24          is -- as a matter of geographic potential, 


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 1          there is some hydro.  And certainly we're 

 2          willing to accept all good resources.  But 

 3          you're right, the emphasis -- the weight, if 

 4          you will, will be on solar and wind.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And we're about 

 6          1 percent solar right now?

 7                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's right.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And how much do you 

 9          think you can expand that with rooftop solar?  

10          What's the goal there?

11                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We're -- we're 

12          more convinced that the economics favor 

13          ground-mounted solar than rooftop solar.  

14          Ground-mounted as in a field at the facility.

15                 The numbers are just better, and 

16          that's a more appealing investment, since as 

17          you pointed out, we're trying to harness the 

18          private investor.  And as I mentioned, we 

19          have some hopes that there's the emergence of 

20          viable, investable large-scale solar as well.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  One of the 

22          state's largest investments in economic 

23          development is Solar City in Buffalo.  Their 

24          focus is rooftop solar, is my understanding.


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 1                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I believe that 

 2          the plant in Buffalo makes panels.  The 

 3          panels -- I don't know how else to say this 

 4          -- don't care where they go.  The panels can 

 5          go ground-mounted or they can go rooftop.  

 6                 I believe that there's a separate 

 7          division of Solar City -- not the panel 

 8          manufacture, but let's make a business of 

 9          selling these things -- that is focused on 

10          rooftops, and I believe they also have a very 

11          active business in ground-mounted.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, I believe 

13          they're developing panels that will take the 

14          place of shingles on a roof, that would be 

15          your entire roof surface.

16                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's -- that's 

17          -- that notion of what they call built-in 

18          photovoltaic is an exciting development.  I 

19          don't think it's quite ready -- it's not 

20          ready for prime time in the market just yet.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  As far as 

22          ground-mounted, in your experience and what 

23          you're seeing in your work on the Clean 

24          Energy Standard, what is the economical size 


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 1          of a solar field, acreage-wise, to be 

 2          cost-effective?

 3                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  It varies, of 

 4          course.  But we've seen -- I think it's -- 

 5          the bottom end is probably a megawatt, which 

 6          is probably around 7 acres.  And then it goes 

 7          up to 5 now, with our new cap.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Up to 5?

 9                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Excuse me, up to 

10          5 megawatts, 35 acres.  But I think that's 

11          the range for ground-mounted.

12                 That said, there clearly are use 

13          cases, if you will, where you can do that at 

14          a smaller level.  For comparison, a megawatt 

15          is about 200 rooftops.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  One thing I've 

17          always been perplexed about with the -- 

18          particularly the Solar City project, where 

19          it's a business that we've funded largely in 

20          New York State to encourage people to put 

21          rooftop solar on their homes --

22                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I beg your 

23          pardon?

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  They want to 


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 1          encourage people to put solar on their 

 2          rooftops, correct?  Wherever, whether it's 

 3          acreage in a field --

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yeah.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  But I'm perplexed by 

 6          the fact that they built a 23-acre facility 

 7          with a 23-acre rooftop and they don't have 

 8          one solar panel on it.  Can you explain that?

 9                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I can't, sir.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, neither can I. 

11                 Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

13          Assemblyman Carroll.  

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you, Chair 

15          Weinstein.  

16                 Good afternoon.  I would like to go 

17          back to our questioning around switching from 

18          net metering to VDER for residential use.  

19          I'm highly concerned that as we switch, as we 

20          approach the 2020 deadline when the switch 

21          would happen, that there would be a net 

22          chilling effect by both financiers of 

23          residential solar projects and the consumers 

24          of that product, because they can't figure 


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 1          out what they will actually get out of their 

 2          solar panel on their roof, on their 

 3          residential roof.

 4                 So I was wondering, is the PSC 

 5          considering a floor for value put back into 

 6          the -- for energy put back into the system?  

 7          So that when people invest in these projects, 

 8          when individual consumers invest in these 

 9          projects, they understand at least at a 

10          minimum how much they will get back out of 

11          system?

12                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So I think 

13          it's -- thank you, Assemblyman.  I think it's 

14          too early to say we're actively considering 

15          that specific option or any other option.

16                 What we do know is that a rate design, 

17          if you will, that's too complicated for 

18          people to understand is almost certainly 

19          guaranteed to have a chilling effect.  So 

20          that will not make sense, and that will not 

21          be what we do.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Then what do you 

23          say to the folks who have installed these 

24          panels, who have looked at the current VDER 


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 1          model who say that the current VDER model is 

 2          too hard to understand around a dinner table 

 3          when someone is thinking of whether to invest 

 4          in one of these systems?

 5                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We need to come 

 6          up with -- you say dinner table, but, you 

 7          know, our term is kitchen table -- a kitchen 

 8          table answer that someone can say yes to 

 9          with, you know, ordinary intelligent 

10          questions and get an answer and say yes or no 

11          in 20 minutes.  That's I think the model; we 

12          need to get there.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  And going back 

14          to what you have said to some of my other 

15          colleagues, is the PSC interested in fully 

16          investing in making sure that residential 

17          solar use is a priority?  Or is the PSC's 

18          priority solely based on large solar projects 

19          in open fields?

20                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The PSC's 

21          interest is driving what's right for New 

22          Yorkers.  And there are -- it's complicated, 

23          but quite simply, the closer the resource, 

24          the panel, is to the customer, the more value 


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 1          it provides.  And if you have, you know, 

 2          panels on a roof, 5 kilowatts at one extreme 

 3          and 50 megawatts in a field outside Syracuse 

 4          300 miles away, they provide vastly different 

 5          amounts of value to the system in terms of 

 6          how they respond to the local energy needs 

 7          and the reliance on pipeline and investments.  

 8          That's the engineer wonk side.  

 9                 And consumers get to vote.  And 

10          there's something that's -- that's -- that 

11          they say yes to that's panels on their roof.  

12          And so yes, we're absolutely attentive to 

13          that sector.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  So what is the 

15          PSC -- what measures is the PSC prepared to 

16          make so that that environmental value that I 

17          think you're talking about -- you know, in my 

18          district in Brooklyn, there are no open 

19          fields, but what I do know is that there are 

20          solar power panel companies in Brooklyn right 

21          now that every set of solar panels that they 

22          put on a roof in Brooklyn, they're taking 

23          another home off the grid.  And if we get 

24          smart battery technology and smart policy, 


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 1          that those homes -- and if we get a 

 2          collection of homes on a block -- will not 

 3          only be able to generate energy for 

 4          themselves but their neighbors.  

 5                 And how is the PSC going to make sure 

 6          that as we go into this VDER model that that 

 7          kind of capture is valued at the appropriate 

 8          rate?  Because I think that's what folks are 

 9          afraid of, that we're not going to get the 

10          appropriate rate, that net metering currently 

11          we at least have a standard that we can wrap 

12          our hands around and that if we go into 2020 

13          without understanding that, we're going to 

14          chill the kind of ingenuity and momentum 

15          that's going on in New York City, where 

16          75 percent of our greenhouse emissions are 

17          from buildings.  

18                 And we need to take as many of these 

19          homes off the grid, I think, as possible over 

20          the next number of years so we hit that 

21          standard of 50 percent renewable energy by 

22          2030.

23                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So I agree that 

24          that needs to be the standard.  I commit that 


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 1          that's what we'll be trying to do.  I can't 

 2          commit that we're going to solve the lack of 

 3          open space in Brooklyn problem, but we have 

 4          to have our policies that work in the world 

 5          as we have it.  So absolutely.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 8          Cusick for a second.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you.

10                 Just quickly, I want to just ask a 

11          follow-up on Senator Young's questions on the 

12          Clean Energy Standard.  Could you also 

13          provide the Assembly Energy Committee with 

14          those numbers on the ratepayers, the impact 

15          on the ratepayers?

16                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I'd assumed that 

17          I'd done that.  But for avoidance of doubt, 

18          yes.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Well, I have 

20          found, sir, I never assume anything around 

21          here.

22                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Well, then, in 

23          the spirit of redundancy, yes, I commit to 

24          that.


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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Yes.  And I -- 

 2          that was part of my questioning.  The other 

 3          question I had was concerning the ESCOs.  

 4                 You mentioned in your testimony that 

 5          reforming the ESCO market remains a priority.  

 6          Could you just give us a little detail on 

 7          that?  Or is there a report on what you have 

 8          found regarding ESCOs in the last year, and 

 9          what there have been in clamping down on some 

10          of the bad practices and the bad actors in 

11          the ESCO field?

12                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So there was an 

13          initial investigation of the impact of the 

14          bad practices or the questionable practices, 

15          if you will, of the ESCOs.  And I believe 

16          that that investigation yielded a number that 

17          customers in the state had overpaid by a 

18          little north of $800 million.  And that 

19          specifically low-income, a more vulnerable 

20          set of New Yorkers, had overpaid by 

21          $96 million.  

22                 There is litigation going on in this 

23          case which is yielding a fair amount of 

24          testimony, which generally on our side tends 


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 1          to amplify and validate those numbers.  And 

 2          we are pursuing that litigation, and it 

 3          restricts my ability to make comments, but -- 

 4          to comment too much.  But obviously our 

 5          mission is to be protective of New York and 

 6          avoid these practices and avoid those 

 7          consequences.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.  And could 

 9          you get back to us, though, on what 

10          specifically the PSC has implemented to cut 

11          down on these bad practices?

12                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So there's the 

13          litigation that's going on as a general 

14          matter.  And then specifically with respect 

15          to -- I mentioned low-income customers as a 

16          set of New Yorkers of special concern.  We 

17          have issued a prohibition against ESCOs 

18          serving low-income customers unless they can 

19          demonstrate to our satisfaction that they can 

20          guarantee no excess costs in their contract 

21          compared to utility service.  

22                 And I believe that we now have six or 

23          seven ESCOs that have come forward through 

24          our process and been able to demonstrate the 


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 1          ability to guarantee savings or at least no 

 2          cost increase.  And so they are -- they're 

 3          back in business on that basis of guaranteed 

 4          savings to low-income customers.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.  I'll 

 6          follow up with you on this issue offline.  

 7          Thank you.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 9          Englebright for a second.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

11                 We've been discussing siting matters 

12          in varying ways, so I just wanted to follow 

13          up with a couple of siting-related questions.  

14                 As you know, Secretary Ryan Zinke has 

15          recently suggested, actually put forward a 

16          new policy for offshore oil and gas 

17          exploration on all the coasts of our nation 

18          except for Florida.  This we had a hearing on 

19          last Wednesday, and we heard from various 

20          testifiers regarding the impact that this 

21          would have on our plans for offshore wind.  

22          It was made perfectly clear to us from the 

23          testimony that there was a direct conflict 

24          between these two offshore uses and that the 


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 1          negative impact on our need to be able to 

 2          rely upon offshore wind as a source of 

 3          renewables could be compromised.  

 4                 Have your offices weighed in on this 

 5          at all?  And are you planning --

 6                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I'd like to 

 7          defer on this one to my sister agency 

 8          NYSERDA, which is in the lead on most aspects 

 9          of offshore wind, and in particular is most 

10          engaged with the federal agencies that are 

11          central to this, the Bureau of Ocean Energy 

12          Management being the principal one, which is, 

13          as you point out -- which is part of the 

14          Department of Interior, which is where 

15          Secretary Zinke resides.  But it's certainly 

16          a problematic announcement.  

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  He's at the 

18          Department of Interior, actually.

19                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yes.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I believe 

21          that NYSERDA has, in conjunction with DEC, 

22          submitted their opinion.  But it would seem 

23          to me be appropriate for your agency to 

24          consider weighing in in a rather forceful 


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 1          way, given that your goals and worthy 

 2          long-term aspirations to carry out the 

 3          Governor's very thoughtful proposals 

 4          regarding renewables could be terribly 

 5          compromised.

 6                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So with no 

 7          disrespect to the eloquence of DEC and 

 8          NYSERDA, we'll take that on.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I appreciate 

10          it.  Thank you.

11                 My second question relating to siting.  

12          Senator O'Mara I think made a very thoughtful 

13          observation that I think it was a 23-acre 

14          site should have had some renewable energy 

15          built into it, and that he observed that 

16          there was none and was dismayed at that.  

17                 I would like to weigh in with a 

18          request that springboards from the same kind 

19          of feeling that I identify with my colleague 

20          from the Senate.  We have a situation on 

21          Long Island now where there is a solar 

22          proposal going into the Pine Barrens, to 

23          knock down parts of the oldest forest in the 

24          state to put up something between 60 and 


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 1          100 acres of ground-mounted solar.  

 2                 And the supervisor of the Town of 

 3          Brookhaven has offered to use already scarred 

 4          land at the landfill of the town, and the 

 5          missing piece here would really, it seems to 

 6          me, be the state.  We have a state interest 

 7          clearly in the Pine Barrens region, and here 

 8          we have Supervisor Romaine offering part of 

 9          the landfill as an alternate site.  It would 

10          be very useful if the State of New York would 

11          support the supervisor and offer some state 

12          siting as an alternative to knocking down 

13          primitive forest.  

14                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Understood.  

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  So I look 

16          around and I see the 800-acre campus at the 

17          State University of New York at Stony Brook 

18          with zero solar or wind.  I see the State 

19          Office Building in Hauppauge with zero solar 

20          or wind.  I see all of the DOT highway yards 

21          with zero solar or wind.  I see almost a 

22          hundred miles of Long Island Railroad-MTA 

23          right-of-way with almost zero solar or wind.  

24          And I kind of wonder why we're not seeing the 


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 1          Public Service Commission helping to advance 

 2          the possibility of siting on these state 

 3          properties and at the very least setting an 

 4          example of and demonstrating the enthusiasm 

 5          for renewable energy by making use of the 

 6          state's own resources.

 7                 Would your agency be willing to assist 

 8          in inventorying and helping to advance the 

 9          use of these state properties?  

10                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Yes.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator O'Mara.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  To change the subject 

14          a little bit, on the issue of storage, 

15          through your programs has the state or has 

16          the Public Service Commission been investing 

17          in storage projects?

18                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The Public 

19          Service Commission has encouraged a fair 

20          amount of solar activity to date.  It comes 

21          mostly in two forms.  There's a set of work 

22          that's going on at NYSERDA in order to 

23          advance storage and its deployability.  And, 

24          you know, some of it's really groundbreaking 


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 1          and important work -- for instance, dealing 

 2          with safety concerns that the FDNY has about 

 3          solar in or near buildings.  

 4                 And the other main set of activities 

 5          to date has been utilities coming forward 

 6          with proposals, innovative proposals, to 

 7          deploy solar as a --

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Solar?

 9                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Excuse me, 

10          storage.  I beg your pardon.

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Storage, okay.

12                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  -- as a way of 

13          proving that it can work as it should on 

14          paper in terms of the energy functionality 

15          and the reinforcement of grid systems.  

16                 And as the Governor announced in his 

17          State of the State when he put forward a goal 

18          of 1,500 megawatts of storage in the state by 

19          2025, we are committed to a process to arrive 

20          by the end of the year with an order to 

21          figure out the mechanics of how that will 

22          happen.  And we're doing that jointly --

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And that will be 

24          funded by the Clean Energy Fund?


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 1                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Sorry?

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Will that be funded 

 3          by the Clean Energy Fund?  

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Well, maybe.  

 5          The -- there's -- our anticipation is that a 

 6          lot of it will not require what we call 

 7          missing money.  That if we do it right, in 

 8          the right place, with the right rules, it 

 9          will be the cost-effective solution and will 

10          be investable without Clean Energy Fund 

11          monies.

12                 So that's path one.  And we're going 

13          to work that path as hard as possible.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Will those types of 

15          projects -- I mean, they're ultimately going 

16          to be paid by the ratepayers in some 

17          fashion --

18                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Sure.  But if 

19          they substitute for copper or substations or 

20          some other utility investment that's required 

21          for reliability and service, it's exactly the 

22          kind of investment that you ought to be 

23          demanding that we ensure that the utilities 

24          make.  If it's a smarter investment, we ought 


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 1          to go make them do it.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yes.  And the 

 3          renewable system won't work without that.

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  That's right.  

 5          It's essential for the renewable system, it's 

 6          essential for the resiliency challenges that 

 7          I'm afraid we're going to face, and it's 

 8          essential for making affordable the grid 

 9          modernization that we have.  Because we've 

10          got an aging infrastructure that needs to be 

11          updated, and doing it the same old way is a 

12          daunting, daunting bill.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Who is doing the 

14          reviewing of projects, proposals for 

15          feasibility, effectiveness, reliability, 

16          meeting the needs of the consumers, and 

17          making determinations of where you're going 

18          to invest the Clean Energy Fund?  Are these 

19          decisions and reviews all being done in-house 

20          by the Public Service Commission?  Or are you 

21          relying upon outside consultants for some of 

22          this work?  

23                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  The Clean Energy 

24          Fund looks in the first place to NYSERDA to 


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 1          develop its programs to those very standards 

 2          of feasibility and cost-effectiveness.  

 3                 The Public Service Commission reviews 

 4          the strategies and reviews the programs for 

 5          compliance with exactly those points.  

 6          NYSERDA and also the Department of Public 

 7          Service have an active stakeholder 

 8          market-facing set of work that -- so would 

 9          this make sense, would you buy this, would 

10          you do this?  For instance, you know, if you 

11          want to do something in a building, you 

12          should talk to the real estate industry.  

13          That kind of work.

14                 We use consultants from time to time 

15          in the spirit of getting work done, 

16          generating analysis that confirms this 

17          cost-effective or that technical feasibility.  

18          But not -- not in a decision-making mode.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  So the 

20          decision-making would be made based upon the 

21          commission's review or the --

22                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Initiated by 

23          NYSERDA, yes.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  -- of -- of what was 


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 1          produced by consultants?

 2                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  And informed by 

 3          stakeholder process.

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Is there available 

 5          information on the consultants being 

 6          utilized, how much they're being paid and the 

 7          availability of their contracts?

 8                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We can get you 

 9          that.  Or NYSERDA can get you that.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  We would like that.

11                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I understand 

12          that.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I've got a couple 

14          more questions.  You want to skip to somebody 

15          else?

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  No, why don't you 

17          finish up, Senator.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  And it was raised a 

19          little bit earlier about natural gas 

20          infrastructure and the massive amount of 

21          infrastructure buildout that the Public 

22          Service Commission has been involved in, I 

23          believe was what it was called.  

24                 And I would say it's just the opposite 


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 1          of that, that the commission has worked in 

 2          fact together with the Department of 

 3          Environmental Conservation to block every 

 4          pipeline project that's been proposed 

 5          recently, effectively cutting off 

 6          free-flowing, cheaper natural gas both to 

 7          New York State and to the entire New England 

 8          region.  

 9                 That's concerning to me because while 

10          we talk about the Clean Energy Standard and 

11          getting to 50 percent of our electricity 

12          demands by 2050, our heating supply is 

13          95 percent or more fossil-fuel-based.  How 

14          are we going to meet those needs going 

15          forward without infrastructure improvements 

16          for natural gas?

17                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I don't want to 

18          sound like I'm ducking, but the commission 

19          has a very limited role in permitting of 

20          natural gas transmission, the larger-scale 

21          work.  

22                 That is the Department of 

23          Environmental Conservation.  I'll observe 

24          that it's my observation that they do a 


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 1          serious and careful job of considering 

 2          economic, community, environmental impacts 

 3          when they consider those options.

 4                 We have infrastructure roles with 

 5          respect to distribution, kind of the 

 6          smaller-scale stuff that kind of reaches to a 

 7          home.  And we too have a serious and careful 

 8          process that evaluates those on the merits.  

 9                 In general, we recognize as you do 

10          that natural gas has a strong economic 

11          argument for its existence; that's why it's 

12          popular.  But we also know that there are 

13          geothermal solutions that can provide heating 

14          and cooling in a more renewable manner.  And 

15          I don't think you've heard me use the 

16          expression "non-wires alternatives," but in 

17          electricity that's the expression we use to 

18          say instead of laying copper and building a 

19          substation, can you do something else with 

20          storage or demand management and the like.

21                 Some of our utilities are now 

22          approaching us with non-pipe solutions, 

23          whereby via energy efficiency or storage or 

24          peak shifting, they're able to achieve the 


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 1          supply that they need without necessarily 

 2          counting on additional transmission.  

 3                 So it's going to take all of the 

 4          above, and obviously we're paying a lot of 

 5          attention to it.

 6                 SENATOR O'MARA:  What is the Clean 

 7          Energy Standard's goals for reducing fossil 

 8          fuels in our heating, for our heating supply?

 9                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  It's only very 

10          indirect.  The Clean Energy Standard is 

11          really about electricity.  And there's some 

12          but not very much electric heat that goes on.

13                 If you're talking about cooling, 

14          obviously air-conditioning is a significant 

15          electric load, and the Clean Energy Standard 

16          is about that.  But the bulk of heating comes 

17          from, if you'll pardon the expression, 

18          non-electric fuels.  So natural gas and 

19          propane and heating oil.

20                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Which is going to be 

21          with us for a very long time, correct?  

22                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I think 

23          they're -- the longevity is different among 

24          those different fuels.


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 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  So we should 

 2          be buying electric blankets?  

 3                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  No.

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you 

 6          very much.

 7                 Assembly, do you have any more?  

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  We have 

 9          Assemblywoman Addie Jenne.  And I think we 

10          have also another member who is interested in 

11          asking a question.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you again.  

13                 You know, I think you've heard from us 

14          loud and clear concerns about siting and 

15          siting of new generation that are greenfield 

16          builds instead of, you know, looking at 

17          existing state campuses and existing 

18          generation assets.  You know, we're looking 

19          at core forests being developed, contiguous 

20          tracts of grasslands that are going to be 

21          interrupted, spawning grounds, and our lakes 

22          and our oceans.  

23                 And that we really would like to see a 

24          larger focus on minimizing the extent of 


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 1          greenfield builds that would certainly 

 2          address some of the issues that I have in 

 3          terms of why are we incentivizing the 

 4          disruption of core forests near my district, 

 5          versus investments in the biomass facility 

 6          that could be used to sustainably manage that 

 7          forest.  You know, we just -- we don't seem 

 8          to link up in terms of we want green energy, 

 9          but we're really not being good stewards of 

10          our natural resources.

11                 I would like to, you know, point out 

12          that while we may not make huge gains if we 

13          invest in existing hydro generation, we may 

14          not move from 24 percent to 40 percent, but 

15          certainly we could increase the hydro 

16          generation with some investment there.

17                 Do you know when the last time hydro 

18          generation was given any financial incentives 

19          of any magnitude to upgrade their 

20          infrastructure?

21                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I'm not sure I 

22          understand the meaning of "any magnitude," 

23          but --

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Like something 


                                                                   389

 1          serious.  They were supposed to be in Tier 2, 

 2          but they were lobbed out at the last second.  

 3          So ...

 4                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I believe 

 5          that -- we'll take another look, but we 

 6          believe that Tier 2 is designed to allow -- 

 7          to accommodate the economics of upgrades in 

 8          order to preserve operation and also to do 

 9          cost-effective expansion.  But I'll make sure 

10          that I got that right.  

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  Do you 

12          guys know the magnitude of dilapidated hydro 

13          facilities throughout the state?  I mean, I 

14          live between two dams in the Village of 

15          Theresa.  One generates and one does not.  I 

16          have a hydro facility in the Village of 

17          Antwerp that hasn't generated in my lifetime.  

18          I've got two in the Village of Potsdam 

19          that -- you know, one broke down, they fixed 

20          it, the other one broke down.  So we 

21          constantly have hydro assets that are not 

22          generating.

23                 And so while to the common observers 

24          you may not realize, you know, how much 


                                                                   390

 1          generation we're leaving on the table because 

 2          you don't live in the communities where our 

 3          rivers are dammed up -- every village has at 

 4          least one if not more dams in my district.

 5                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  I believe we 

 6          have some pretty good estimates of that, but 

 7          I'm -- I'd like to do better and have a 

 8          better read.  So thank you.  We'll pay 

 9          attention and maybe come to you.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  And, you 

11          know, we had a policy change on the 

12          St. Lawrence River in terms of how it's 

13          regulated.  And, you know, for those folks 

14          that don't think there's any way to get more 

15          generation, you know, the power dam in 

16          Massena, because of the higher water levels, 

17          is now generating more power.  

18                 So to say that hydro is an area that 

19          is not ripe for investment so that -- and 

20          then the other thing is is they represent 

21          24 percent of our generation, correct, of the 

22          -- and that's 24 percent of 28 percent that's 

23          green in this state.  You know, if we don't 

24          invest in them, that 24 percent is going to 


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 1          crumble into the water and evaporate.

 2                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So I should not 

 3          have conveyed the impression that hydro is 

 4          not ripe for investment.  It's certainly a 

 5          terrific resource.  And, you know, wherever 

 6          it's possible, we want to see more.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  All right.  And 

 8          the last point that I wanted to make before 

 9          was we're putting a lot of state investment 

10          into these developments that are many times 

11          owned by foreign corporations -- so outside 

12          of the United States, not just outside of 

13          New York.  And the developers are coming in, 

14          and they're non-New York State developers as 

15          well.  

16                 And because of your regulatory 

17          ability -- and you've stated earlier that we 

18          have a favorable regulatory environment for 

19          these developments here in New York -- what 

20          are we doing to ensure that New Yorkers are 

21          actually building them?  Do we have project 

22          labor agreement requirements within these 

23          developments or within all of these 

24          incentives?


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 1                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We generally do 

 2          not.  But we are mindful and believe we're, 

 3          you know, getting some awfully good success 

 4          in terms of making sure that jobs are being 

 5          generated for New Yorkers and that those jobs 

 6          are good jobs at good wages.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay, because 

 8          we're having the exact opposite experience in 

 9          my area.  So it would be nice if we could 

10          close the loop on that.

11                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We'll close the 

12          loop on that one too.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Assemblyman 

15          Stec.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Thank you, 

17          Chairman.  

18                 A couple of questions.  I attended 

19          last night in North Creek a meeting regarding 

20          broadband with the Broadband Program office.  

21          And the state's initiative and the investment 

22          that this Legislature made of a half a 

23          billion dollars to bring internet to everyone 

24          in the state, high-speed access.  And at that 


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 1          meeting and other communications that I've 

 2          had to my office, there seems to be a lot of 

 3          complaints surrounding the issue of make 

 4          ready with National Grid to get on the poles 

 5          to put in the infrastructure for broadband.

 6                 The providers, the people that are 

 7          bidding on the grants that the state is 

 8          providing are telling us that they've had a 

 9          tremendous amount of backlog and difficulty 

10          with National Grid -- one, from a cost 

11          perspective, and two, from just a time delay, 

12          which is dragging out a lot of these 

13          projects.  

14                 Is your office aware of that?  And if 

15          so, what have you been doing about it?  

16                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  We are aware 

17          about it.  We are -- we're active.  

18                 And can I turn it over to Tom, whose 

19          day-to-day -- or it's a weekly thing, but --

20                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  Sure.  So 

21          we are aware of the challenges with the make 

22          ready.  It's an unprecedented level of 

23          broadband deployment across the state.  And 

24          so it's been an unprecedented challenge for 


                                                                   394

 1          the pole owners.  We have a pole attachment 

 2          process that's outlined in a PSC order from 

 3          several years ago.  It came to our attention 

 4          by the BPO that its grantees were having some 

 5          challenges.  

 6                 So we convened a working group of our 

 7          staff, the pole owners, and the BPO grantees 

 8          and the BPO itself, to meet on a weekly basis 

 9          to ensure those issues were getting addressed 

10          in a timely way.

11                 There's no question that we've had a 

12          lot of success through that process.  But 

13          there continue to be emerging issues that we 

14          are being made aware of, this being a recent 

15          one, in terms of the cost.  And we are going 

16          to meet at a high level in the near future to 

17          start to address that.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  The sense that I am 

19          getting -- and I don't want to put words in 

20          anyone's mouth.  But the sense that I'm 

21          getting is people smell that there's money on 

22          the table, and pole owners are perhaps aware 

23          of that, and that's changing the market as 

24          far as the cost or what poles need to be 


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 1          improved, replaced.

 2                 You know, and again, anyone that's 

 3          paying for something who usually doesn't like 

 4          to complain, they complain about the cost.  I 

 5          understand that.  But I've heard enough of 

 6          these kinds of grumblings where I wanted to 

 7          pass it on.  

 8                 Have you seen, you know, that kind of 

 9          complaint where people are getting a sense 

10          that, hey, there's a lot of state money 

11          involved now, and so let's get aggressive 

12          with what polls need to be replaced or 

13          improved or whatnot?

14                 EXECUTIVE DEPUTY CONGDON:  I think 

15          that there are a lot of safety standards.  

16          You're talking about hanging infrastructure 

17          on poles that cross highways, that has to be 

18          a certain distance from electrical wires.  

19          There's the potential for electrical shock to 

20          the public.

21                 So there are standards that are 

22          important that they be adhered to.  And of 

23          course in any project of this magnitude, 

24          there's going to be differences of opinion 


                                                                   396

 1          about when those standards come into play and 

 2          whose responsibility it is to comply with 

 3          them.  And we can act as sort of an objective 

 4          referee, if you will, to make sure that no 

 5          one on either side is gaming the system.  And 

 6          we can work to effectively address these 

 7          issues.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  All right, thank 

 9          you.  

10                 And if I could just quickly shift 

11          gears to an unrelated matter, National Grid 

12          seeking a rate increase.  And I was just 

13          curious where we are on that process, if you 

14          could give us an update on when we might see 

15          a timeline or where that is likely heading.

16                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  So we have just 

17          received a settlement proposal -- settlement 

18          meaning multiparty agreement on the 

19          proposal -- that is a meaningful improvement 

20          over the company's initial ask.  We're 

21          reviewing it now, and we will have an order 

22          that renders a view on it.  

23                 And so I'm afraid I can't talk about 

24          it all that much, other than to just 


                                                                   397

 1          objectively point out that rather than the 

 2          13, 14 percent one-year increases, we've got 

 3          first-year increases in the 1.4 and 1.7 

 4          ranges for electric and gas.  We've got 

 5          support from the business community.  We've 

 6          got support from the three biggest cities.  

 7          We've got labor support, we've got 

 8          environmental support.  And we -- and it 

 9          meaningfully advances some of the policy 

10          goals, including municipalities' abilities to 

11          do LEDs and more energy efficiency.  

12                 So it's a well-crafted settlement 

13          that's come before us.  And again, without 

14          binding my fellow commissioners, I would 

15          imagine we'd be able to move on it.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN STEC:  Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

19          Chairman.  I think we're done.

20                 PSC CHAIRMAN RHODES:  Thank you.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

24          President Gil Quiniones, State Power 


                                                                   398

 1          Authority, and he is replacing on the agenda 

 2          Justin Driscoll, who is general counsel.

 3                 (Discussion off the record.)

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Oh, I'm sorry, you 

 5          know what, I erred on that.  So we'll have 

 6          NYSERDA.  Thank you, President.  I guess 

 7          we're skipping ahead.  

 8                 So Alicia Barton, president and CEO of 

 9          NYSERDA.  Welcome.

10                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Thank you.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Look forward to 

12          your testimony.

13                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Good 

14          afternoon, Chair Young and the other 

15          distinguished members of the committees.  I 

16          am Alicia Barton, president and CEO of the 

17          New York State Energy Research and 

18          Development Authority, or NYSERDA.  

19                 I joined NYSERDA a little over six 

20          months ago, and I appreciate this opportunity 

21          to discuss the critical climate and energy 

22          issues facing our state.

23                 Governor Cuomo's commitment to 

24          fighting climate change can be seen in the 


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 1          nation-leading policies that New York has 

 2          implemented.  Clean energy is a cornerstone 

 3          of those efforts, and I'll highlight a few of 

 4          our most important initiatives at NYSERDA.  

 5                 First, Advanced Energy Storage 

 6          continues to be an emphasis for NYSERDA.  

 7          Consistent with the Governor's announcement 

 8          of a 1500-megawatt goal for energy storage 

 9          deployment, and guided by the framework 

10          agreed with the Legislature, we will work to 

11          establish policies that will enable the 

12          energy storage industry to reach the state's 

13          goals. 

14                 New York's forthcoming energy storage 

15          roadmap, being developed by NYSERDA and the 

16          Department of Public Service, will consider  

17          mechanisms to maximize the benefits of energy 

18          storage.  A recent study estimated that this 

19          sector has the potential to grow to nearly 

20          30,000 jobs, resulting in $8 billion in 

21          revenues for New York firms by the year 2030.  

22                 Offshore wind is also a high priority.  

23          The Governor's commitment of 2.4 gigawatts of 

24          offshore wind power, and the plan to solicit 


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 1          for 800 megawatts over the next two years, 

 2          will drive the deployment of offshore wind 

 3          capacity in New York.  NYSERDA recently 

 4          issued the state's Offshore Wind Master Plan 

 5          and proposed options for wind procurement, 

 6          which will lead to the responsible and 

 7          cost-effective deployment of this important 

 8          renewable energy resource. 

 9                 NYSERDA is in the process of 

10          finalizing awards of its latest large-scale 

11          renewables solicitation, which is the largest 

12          purchasing commitment to renewable energy by 

13          any state in the country.  We have seen a 

14          robust response, widely dispersed throughout 

15          the state, including wind, solar and 

16          hydroelectric proposals, and we are planning 

17          to make announcements shortly.  

18                 We are a little over a year and a half 

19          into the Clean Energy Fund and have launched 

20          over 50 CEF investment plans development, 

21          which are available on our website.  These 

22          plans are on track to meet or exceed the 

23          energy efficiency, fuel efficiency, and CO2 

24          emissions reductions goals identified for the 


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 1          CEF.  

 2                 Under NY-Sun, solar power increased 

 3          more than 1,000 percent from 2011 to 2017, 

 4          leveraging more than $2.7 billion in private 

 5          investment.  Our Solar for All initiative 

 6          will assist 10,000 New Yorkers joining 

 7          community solar projects to help low-income 

 8          consumers realize the benefits of solar 

 9          power.  

10                 The New York Green Bank continues to 

11          support the clean energy economy.  In 2017, 

12          the Green Bank reached self-sufficiency, a 

13          full year earlier than projected.  The Green 

14          Bank has committed over $440 million, 

15          supporting investments of nearly $1.6 billion 

16          in our state.  

17                 The Drive Clean Rebate has supported 

18          the purchase of more than 4,000 electric 

19          vehicles.  EV sales increased approximately 

20          70 percent in New York in 2017, outpacing the 

21          national average.  

22                 All of these efforts are delivering 

23          environmental improvements and fueling our 

24          clean energy economy.  In November, NYSERDA 


                                                                   402

 1          released its first-ever Clean Energy Industry 

 2          Report, showing that 146,000 New Yorkers are 

 3          employed in the state's clean energy sector. 

 4          These results are extremely exciting and 

 5          provide evidence that investments in clean 

 6          energy are already paying off for workers and 

 7          for the state's economy.  

 8                 The Executive Budget recommends 

 9          $19.7 million for NYSERDA to continue energy 

10          research and development, and statewide 

11          energy planning.  This supports critical 

12          research and development for energy 

13          efficiency and renewable resources, to reduce 

14          adverse environmental effects.  These funds 

15          are essential to our Fuel NY 

16          responsibilities, which provide critical 

17          support to fuel access and fuel reserves 

18          during extreme weather events across the 

19          state.  

20                 For nearly four decades, NYSERDA has 

21          also protected New York's interests at 

22          West Valley in Cattaraugus County.  The 

23          Executive Budget recommends $17 million for 

24          ongoing nuclear waste cleanup at West Valley, 


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 1          an increase of approximately $1.4 million 

 2          over last year's budget, to meet the federal 

 3          appropriations match.  

 4                 We are proud of New York's leadership 

 5          in advancing clean energy solutions and what 

 6          has been achieved with your help.  But we are 

 7          also aware that we have reached a critical 

 8          moment in our state's and our planet's 

 9          ability to deal with global climate change.  

10          Climate change is not just an energy issue, 

11          but one that reaches across all sectors of 

12          our economy, and we must continue our work to 

13          enable the fast-growing clean energy economy 

14          to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect 

15          our natural resources, and provide long-term 

16          economic development opportunities for the 

17          state.  

18                 This concludes my opening remarks, and 

19          I'd be happy to take any questions you may 

20          have. 

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you for your 

22          testimony.  And I apologize about the mix-up.

23                 But there were some questions that I 

24          wanted to ask.  First of all, I wanted to say 


                                                                   404

 1          thank you to you and the Governor for the 

 2          additional funding for West Valley 

 3          Demonstration Project.  As you know, that's 

 4          in my district, and it's been an ongoing 

 5          issue for many, many years.  So we really 

 6          appreciate the additional funds to match the 

 7          federal funding.

 8                 But the Fuel NY program.  So in the 

 9          Governor's budget there's an annual 

10          authorization for NYSERDA to finance a 

11          portion of its research and development, 

12          demonstration, policy and planning programs 

13          and Fuel NY program from the assessments on 

14          gas and electric corporations pursuant to 

15          Section 18A, which the Legislature is 

16          painfully aware of 18A of the Public Service 

17          Law.  This section would authorize collection 

18          of an amount not to exceed $19.7 million in 

19          assessments and includes a $150,000 

20          suballocation for NYSDAM for the Fuel NY 

21          program.

22                 While this is not the temporary state 

23          energy and utility service conservation 

24          assessment -- commonly known as the 18A 


                                                                   405

 1          surcharge -- that was fully phased out on 

 2          March 31, 2017, these are ongoing 

 3          assessments, and they're passed on to utility 

 4          customers.

 5                 So can you explain the suballocation 

 6          of $150,000 worth of 18A assessments to 

 7          Fuel NY?

 8                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I'm sorry, 

 9          can you clarify the question?  Are you asking 

10          in terms of the assessments, what they are 

11          budgeted to be spent for under the Fuel NY 

12          program?  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes.  So there's a 

14          suballocation of $150,000 worth of 18A 

15          assessments to Fuel NY.  So could you explain 

16          that more thoroughly?

17                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Sure.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

19                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  So the 

20          Fuel NY program is intended to provide a 

21          couple of services that are critical to 

22          supporting the state's ability to respond to 

23          fuel shortages, including those caused by 

24          extreme weather events.  


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 1                 So in particular, there are two 

 2          primary components of that program.  One is 

 3          the support that NYSERDA provides and works 

 4          closely with other agencies to provide in 

 5          allowing fueling stations, gas stations, to 

 6          have access to backup generation, including 

 7          access to either temporary generators or, in 

 8          some cases, support for purchasing permanent 

 9          backup generators.

10                 The other component relates to 

11          managing the Strategic Fuel Reserve for 

12          New York State, which is intended again to 

13          provide a buffer in those instances when fuel 

14          markets become tight due to disruption of one 

15          type or another. 

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  So just 

17          to clarify, which 18A are you talking about?

18                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I believe 

19          for NYSERDA's budget there's a single 18A 

20          assessment that is the $19.7 million you 

21          referenced.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  But is that -- so 

23          is that going backward on the 18A that was 

24          phased out this past year?  Is that 


                                                                   407

 1          reinstituting part of it?  Or is that the 

 2          other 18A program?  

 3                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I believe 

 4          this is going forward.  I apologize, I'm not 

 5          familiar with the one that was phased out 

 6          previously.  But I'm speaking to the proposed 

 7          Executive Budget for the upcoming fiscal 

 8          year.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

10                 Are these intended as ongoing costs to 

11          be paid for out of this assessment?  

12                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I'm sorry, 

13          could you repeat the question?  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Are these intended 

15          to be ongoing costs to be paid for out of 

16          this assessment?

17                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I believe 

18          that there's not been a determination made as 

19          to future-year budgets.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  So if -- so 

21          you're saying you don't have that 

22          information?

23                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I 

24          believe that decision is made on an annual 


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 1          basis.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  So you 

 3          expect that annually these costs will be paid 

 4          for for the program out of these assessments 

 5          going forward.

 6                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I 

 7          believe that will be -- the level of funding 

 8          would be determined on an annual basis as to 

 9          what the dollar amount would be.  But yes, in 

10          general, to continue the Fuel NY program and 

11          provide those fuel resiliency benefits, I 

12          believe that would be the source of funding 

13          that is contemplated.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

15                 So regarding the Regional Greenhouse 

16          Gas Initiative funds transfer, in the 

17          Article VII language, the sweeps and 

18          transfers bill, the Executive Budget once 

19          again proposes to transfer $23 million in 

20          off-budget assessed Regional Greenhouse Gas 

21          Initiative RGGI funds to the General Fund.  

22                 So there's a $23 million RGGI transfer 

23          to the General Fund, as I just said.  And the 

24          question is, is there a specific purpose 


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 1          intended by this transfer?  What would that 

 2          money be used for?

 3                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  That money 

 4          is intended to be used for environmental tax 

 5          credits that support clean energy projects 

 6          administered by the Department of 

 7          Environmental Conservation.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.

 9                 Going to the Green Bank -- and we 

10          started to discuss this a little while ago -- 

11          Part EE authorizes NYSERDA to obtain revenue 

12          from a special assessment on gas and electric 

13          companies, not to exceed $19.7 million for 

14          certain projects, including NYSERDA's Energy 

15          Policy and Planning Program, which involves 

16          the Green Bank.  The Green Bank is a 

17          state-run investment bank funded by NYSERDA 

18          using funds from utility customers, and it is 

19          one of the state's 10-year, $5 billion clean 

20          energy funds -- it's one part of the Clean 

21          Energy Fund.

22                 So how many people does the Green Bank 

23          employ?  Where are their offices?  And how is 

24          the staff organized?  


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 1                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Sure.  So 

 2          the New York Green Bank is a division of 

 3          NYSERDA, and those employees are NYSERDA 

 4          employees.  I believe the team that staffs 

 5          the division of NYSERDA that is the New York 

 6          Green Bank is approximately 25 individuals.  

 7          They work out of NYSERDA's New York City 

 8          office in Manhattan.  And they are organized 

 9          according to the mission of the Green Bank, 

10          which is to support project finance in 

11          renewable energy projects in New York State.

12                 I did want to provide one 

13          clarification, which is as to the 

14          $19.7 million.  That does fund energy and 

15          environmental research and development 

16          activities at NYSERDA, but that is not 

17          allocated to the Green Bank, which as you 

18          subsequently noted is really authorized 

19          separately as a ratepayer collection as part 

20          of the Clean Energy Fund.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I 

22          apologize, I'm losing my voice.

23                 Does the Green Bank hire consultants?  

24          And if so, what is the cost for these 


                                                                   411

 1          consultants per year?

 2                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  So the 

 3          Green Bank does hire consultants from time to 

 4          time to support the work that they do, to 

 5          ensure that they are living up to best 

 6          practices, have, you know, the best tools 

 7          available in terms of outside expert analysis 

 8          of markets and projects, due diligence on 

 9          projects and the like.

10                 I apologize, I don't have the total 

11          for the amount for consultants on an annual 

12          basis in front of me now, but we can 

13          certainly follow up and provide that.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes.  When do you 

15          think we could see that?  

16                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I think 

17          that should be easy to provide.  

18                 I should note that the New York Green 

19          Bank reports quarterly on its activities 

20          pursuant to the Public Service Commission's 

21          orders under the Clean Energy Fund, and as a 

22          result provides fairly robust reporting on a 

23          quarterly basis on the monies that they 

24          spend.


                                                                   412

 1                 In addition, again, all of these funds 

 2          roll up through NYSERDA's budget, and we 

 3          publicly post that budget on our website and 

 4          report on that from time to time to our board 

 5          of directors in public meetings.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you for that.

 7                 Actually, on June 22nd of 2017, the 

 8          Governor issued a press release that stated 

 9          that the Green Bank generated $2.7 million in 

10          positive net income as a result of the 

11          $291.6 million in investment in clean energy 

12          transactions.

13                 So the question is, what is the 

14          current rate of return on the Green Bank 

15          assets?  

16                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, the 

17          press release that was issued really related 

18          to the interest that was generated exceeding 

19          for the first time the operating costs of the 

20          Green Bank, which was a milestone that was, I 

21          should say, achieved a year ahead of 

22          schedule.  So that was a very positive 

23          development.  

24                 The return on investment again is 


                                                                   413

 1          specified in the quarterly reports of the 

 2          New York Green Bank.  I believe the updated 

 3          numbers from where we were in June and the 

 4          press release you cited to where we are today 

 5          and the most recent updating is that the 

 6          Green Bank had deployed approximately 

 7          $440 million of capital and has leveraged 

 8          $1.5 billion in total investment in those 

 9          projects.  

10                 So I think that's certainly one way of 

11          looking at the rate of return for the Green 

12          Bank's investment.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And what is the 

14          loan loss amount in reserves?

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I don't -- 

16          I don't have the -- any numbers for that.  I 

17          believe that, again, such amounts would be 

18          reflected in the quarterly reports that the 

19          Green Bank files.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  We'll check 

21          on that.  Thank you for that.

22                 How much private capital has been 

23          leveraged against ratepayer funds?  

24                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  That was 


                                                                   414

 1          the $1.5 billion number that I just cited 

 2          as on top of the Green Bank's $440 million 

 3          deployed to date.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  In 

 5          Connecticut, the Green Bank was created in 

 6          statute with funds subject to approval by the 

 7          General Assembly there and with some 

 8          oversight provisions, since ratepayer funds 

 9          are being used by the Green Bank.

10                 What do you think about that approach?  

11          Is that acceptable?

12                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I'm 

13          not familiar with the enabling legislation 

14          for the Connecticut Green Bank, I must 

15          confess.  

16                 As I detailed, I believe that there is 

17          a fairly robust set of reporting requirements 

18          that have been applied to the Green Bank, 

19          which allow for quarterly updating and 

20          transparency around the work that the 

21          Green Bank is doing, what it is achieving in 

22          terms of the metrics and goals that have been 

23          set out for it.  And that is a fairly robust 

24          process that I do believe provides 


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 1          significant opportunity for input on those 

 2          and transparency around the Green Bank's 

 3          work.  

 4                 They also hold quarterly webinars to 

 5          explain each of those quarterly reports.  

 6                 And generally we place a high priority 

 7          on transparency of operations so that the 

 8          public can have confidence in the work that 

 9          we're doing with their funding to achieve the 

10          clean energy goals we have set out.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  I guess, you 

12          know, it's apparent where I'm going with 

13          this.  But in other states, for example 

14          Connecticut, there is legislative oversight 

15          of a Green Bank.  And even though there are 

16          some reporting mechanisms that you're 

17          pointing out on the website, transparency 

18          still continues to be an issue.

19                 In 2015, Level Solar came to an 

20          agreement with the Green Bank to borrow up to 

21          $25 million.  The company went bankrupt, and 

22          SUNation Solar Systems took over for 

23          Level Solar.  What are the anticipated losses 

24          to the Green Bank from this bankruptcy?


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 1                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes, I'm 

 2          familiar with the Level Solar bankruptcy and 

 3          the decision by Level Solar's management to 

 4          abruptly close its doors last fall, which 

 5          certainly caused concern on behalf of NYSERDA 

 6          and the New York Green Bank to ensure that 

 7          two priorities would be met.  One is to 

 8          safeguard the ratepayer investment in those 

 9          Level Solar projects, and the second would be 

10          to ensure that customers were not adversely 

11          impacted by that event.

12                 As you mentioned, SUNation took over 

13          the servicing of the systems.  And I believe, 

14          to the best of my knowledge, that has been a 

15          relatively smooth transition, and that 

16          customers have access to subsequent servicing 

17          for their projects that are continuing to 

18          operate.

19                 As to the bankruptcy's impact on the 

20          New York Green Bank investment, that's 

21          something we're monitoring very closely and 

22          participating in the bankruptcy process 

23          actively.

24                 It's our -- it's a fundamental feature 


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 1          of the work that the New York Green Bank does 

 2          to structure its investments in a way that 

 3          reduces, as much as possible, exposure and 

 4          risk to the New York Green Bank balance sheet 

 5          from the deployment of these projects, using 

 6          structured finance techniques and 

 7          best-in-class due diligence and other tactics 

 8          to minimize risk.  

 9                 As a result of that, we believe that 

10          those structures will likely be successful in 

11          safeguarding the New York Green Bank 

12          investment in these assets, which as I 

13          mentioned are continuing to operate and which 

14          do secure the New York Green Bank investment 

15          that was made through that particular loan 

16          with Level Solar.  

17                 Nonetheless, as I said, we are 

18          aggressively monitoring that situation and 

19          participating through the bankruptcy process 

20          to ensure that ratepayers are protected as 

21          much as possible.  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

23                 Assembly?

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  


                                                                   418

 1          Assemblywoman Jenne.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Yes, thank you.  

 3          You mentioned that you're getting ready to 

 4          make announcements on funding projects.  Are 

 5          those projects that have already gone through 

 6          the Article 10 siting process?

 7                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes.  I was 

 8          referring to the first RFP under the Clean 

 9          Energy Standard for renewable energy 

10          solicitation.

11                 Those projects, as we previously 

12          announced when last fall we did see a very 

13          robust response to that particular 

14          solicitation -- I believe there were 88 

15          different projects proposed.  Which means 

16          that there was a wide range of projects 

17          proposed as well, some of which would fall 

18          below the criteria for triggering Article 10 

19          review, and others of which would very much 

20          require Article 10 review.

21                 So, for example, I believe -- I 

22          believe most of the -- or all of the wind 

23          projects that would have been proposed would 

24          exceed the size threshold easily to trigger 


                                                                   419

 1          Article 10 review, whereas some of the solar 

 2          projects would not.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I guess my point 

 4          is, are you allowed to provide funding to 

 5          projects that have not been -- their site 

 6          hasn't been approved?  Or do they come to you 

 7          for the financing first and then go to 

 8          Article 10 second?

 9                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Those 

10          processes can work in parallel, or one can 

11          lead the other slightly.  So there's not --

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  So there's it's 

13          a requirement to have the siting locked down 

14          before they would get a financial incentive.

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  It's not a 

16          requirement to have approval under Article 

17          10.  There are other requirements as to site 

18          control that NYSERDA does specify in the 

19          solicitation to -- really to provide evidence 

20          that the projects are real.  However, the 

21          Article 10 approval is not a necessary 

22          condition.

23                 What is a necessary condition to 

24          getting paid under the contract would be 


                                                                   420

 1          completion of all required permits and 

 2          approvals such as --

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  So doesn't 

 4          providing a promise of funding before the 

 5          siting has occurred kind of -- well, I used 

 6          it before -- put the cart before the horse or 

 7          create a project that is, you know, already 

 8          so far down the road in terms of investment 

 9          by everyone involved that it kind of stacks 

10          the deck against any local community 

11          opposition to a project?  Because, I mean, 

12          just kind of the weight of the process is 

13          stacked against somebody -- you know, a 

14          community that opposes a project.  

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, the 

16          award of a NYSERDA contract again would 

17          certainly be contingent on completing all 

18          permitting requirements -- state, local, 

19          otherwise -- in order to receive the funding.  

20          So it's a -- you know, it is an award, but it 

21          is necessarily contingent on going through 

22          those steps.  And there's no circumventing of 

23          those steps that occurs by virtue of the 

24          NYSERDA award.


                                                                   421

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I'm just saying 

 2          in terms of -- process in terms -- you know, 

 3          I think everybody understands what I'm trying 

 4          to say.

 5                 I am aware of projects that have -- 

 6          the same projects that have applied for 

 7          NYSERDA funding and to RFPs by the Power 

 8          Authority.  Are you guys coordinating your 

 9          awards of financial incentives?  Are you 

10          competitors out there?  I guess I don't 

11          understand why we have two organizations 

12          essentially getting responses from the same 

13          projects.

14                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  NYSERDA and 

15          NYPA did issue RFPs at the same time, but 

16          those RFPs were structured fairly 

17          differently.  So NYSERDA, our solicitation 

18          was intended to make available contracts for 

19          long-term purchase of renewable energy 

20          attributes -- the RECs that projects would 

21          generate over a 20-year basis.

22                 The NYPA solicitation offered 

23          different opportunities for developers in 

24          all --


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 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Is it possible 

 2          to get -- be successful with both pots of 

 3          state money?

 4                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  No.  As I 

 5          was trying to explain, the proposals were 

 6          issued side by side but they carried very 

 7          different offerings.  There also was a 

 8          provision in the solicitation that required 

 9          at some point in the process the developer 

10          essentially to choose which path they would 

11          take.  They will not be -- projects will not 

12          be receiving awards from both.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  Now, I 

14          have had a very particular problem in my area 

15          with small projects in terms of residential 

16          projects where a homeowner decides that 

17          they're going to do a good thing for the 

18          environment and upgrade a piece of equipment 

19          in their home to be more energy-efficient.  

20          And NYSERDA has all sorts of strict 

21          requirements on -- your engineers approving 

22          the system and approved installers and all 

23          sorts of -- I mean, essentially they turn 

24          over their home to you, to NYSERDA.  


                                                                   423

 1                 And NYSERDA engineered the project 

 2          completely wrong, used the wrong type of 

 3          system for the location and the application.  

 4          And instead of a $30,000 project that we've 

 5          already invested into, now the solution is to 

 6          do another reengineered project for like 

 7          $60,000, and the homeowner really being on 

 8          the hook for a series of failures of NYSERDA 

 9          professionals.  And there seems to be no 

10          process to stop the bleeding.  We're just 

11          throwing good money after bad money 

12          continuously.

13                 And so why is there not a process at 

14          NYSERDA to say, We have inflicted enough pain 

15          on you, homeowner, who only wanted to do the 

16          right thing -- and help them to get their 

17          life back and their home back?  Because there 

18          seems to be no process.  

19                 And I only bring this up because I was 

20          promised a solution, and it wasn't 

21          forthcoming and I was supposed to have a 

22          phone call with you folks and you canceled it 

23          and then you didn't fulfill your promise.  

24                 So I'd really like you folks to look 


                                                                   424

 1          into this horrible situation you've caused 

 2          for my constituents and to put a process in 

 3          place that helps people get redress from 

 4          horrible mistakes by the staff at NYSERDA.

 5                 And I know you're new.  I know you're 

 6          new to this.

 7                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I 

 8          take our obligations to support homeowners 

 9          who participate in NYSERDA programs or who 

10          adopt clean energy solutions very seriously.  

11          We -- I'm not sure if I, you know, have all 

12          the details of the project you're referring 

13          to, but I'm absolutely --

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  I'm sure your 

15          staff will have it for you tomorrow.

16                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  And I'd be 

17          happy to speak to you in further detail to 

18          assure we can discuss a way to address the 

19          concerns that you're raising.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

22                 Senator O'Mara.

23                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

24                 I don't know where to begin.  The 


                                                                   425

 1          Clean Energy Fund, what is -- what's 

 2          NYSERDA's role in determining where Clean 

 3          Energy Fund dollars are spent?

 4                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Thank you 

 5          for the question.  The Clean Energy Fund is a 

 6          substantial effort that we participate in in 

 7          NYSERDA to meet the requirements that were 

 8          set out by the Public Service Commission in 

 9          the order authorizing the Clean Energy Fund.  

10          Essentially, NYSERDA administers those funds 

11          under the regulation and supervision of the 

12          Public Service Commission and the Department 

13          of Public Service.

14                 As I mentioned in my opening remarks, 

15          to date NYSERDA has proposed and received 

16          approval for 50 investment plans, all of 

17          which are posted on our website.  And that 

18          really lays out the decisions that have been 

19          made to date around how to spend those funds, 

20          what initiatives to target them to, and very 

21          importantly what benefits we would expect to 

22          receive as a result of the investments that 

23          we're making under those investment plans.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How much is in that 


                                                                   426

 1          fund dollarwise under your control right now?  

 2                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Thank you 

 3          for the question.  I'll try to get at the 

 4          numbers that you're asking for, although I 

 5          may not have all of them available.

 6                 So to date, the Clean Energy Fund, 

 7          which was authorized a couple of years ago -- 

 8          and I'm really referring here to NYSERDA's 

 9          budget, which again is posted on our website, 

10          and speaking to both the current fiscal year 

11          that we're in, which we have not quite yet 

12          completed under FY 2017-2018, and then 

13          looking forward to the next fiscal year.

14                 I believe the amounts that were 

15          budgeted around the Clean Energy Fund -- 

16          which I want to be clear are the amounts that 

17          are transferred to NYSERDA under the 

18          bill-as-you-go approach that has been 

19          described previously.  So in order to avoid 

20          the situation of collecting dollars from 

21          ratepayers that would not be immediately 

22          deployed, NYSERDA now under this approach 

23          seeks reimbursement for funds on a more 

24          as-needed basis.


                                                                   427

 1                 I believe the numbers under -- that 

 2          are anticipated for the year we're about to 

 3          complete -- I don't have the year to date 

 4          actual -- but anticipated on the FY '18 

 5          budget year is $351 million for the Clean 

 6          Energy Fund, and budgeted to increase next 

 7          year to $823 million.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  And that money 

 9          is transferred into NYSERDA to pay as you go?  

10                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  That's 

11          correct.  So that's --

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So from that fund 

13          that I'll call the reserve fund, who holds 

14          that and how much is in it?

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  The 

16          utilities collect the surcharge that is 

17          imposed on bills, and I believe they each 

18          hold those individually.  I don't know the 

19          amounts that are in those funds.  They're not 

20          at NYSERDA.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  They're not at 

22          NYSERDA?  

23                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  No.  The 

24          amounts that get transferred under 


                                                                   428

 1          bill-as-you-go are the ones that -- the 

 2          numbers that I just referenced.  Those are 

 3          the amounts that come in from the utilities 

 4          to NYSERDA, pursuant to again the approach 

 5          that the Public Service Commission has 

 6          approved.  And those are the numbers that I 

 7          can speak to.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So you don't know how 

 9          much the utilities are holding in reserve?  

10                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I don't.  I 

11          don't know the answer to that question, no.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Do you know who does 

13          know that?  

14                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Presumably 

15          the utilities know that.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Do you think the 

17          Public Service Commission knows that?  

18                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I 

19          believe they set out a schedule for 

20          collections and that by comparing the 

21          schedule versus the amounts transferred to 

22          NYSERDA, yes, you could -- I believe you 

23          could identify that information.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  It just seems odd 


                                                                   429

 1          that we don't know that, how much money is 

 2          out in reserve.  And you just make requests 

 3          and that money shows up in the fund?  

 4                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes.  

 5          Again, pursuant to a bill-as-you-go approach 

 6          where we project needs to fund the programs 

 7          that have been authorized to be expended 

 8          under the Clean Energy Fund, and then set a 

 9          schedule for transferring those funds as 

10          they're needed.

11                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, in your 

12          processes of identifying projects to fund -- 

13          and the next party testifying here today is 

14          the New York Power Authority.  There's a 

15          proposal to have the New York Power Authority 

16          invest in renewable generation.  Now, as 

17          Chairman Rhodes testified, the current 

18          process demands are being met by the private 

19          marketplace.  Why should we have New York 

20          Power Authority getting involved in this when 

21          the private marketplace is meeting the 

22          criteria right now?

23                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, as 

24          Chair Rhodes did, I would have to defer to 


                                                                   430

 1          the New York Power Authority as to the 

 2          proposal that they've put forward.  

 3                 But in general I believe it is, you 

 4          know, incumbent on us, with our renewable 

 5          energy goals that we have in place as a 

 6          state, to look hard at a variety of options 

 7          to how to meet those goals, and to scrutinize 

 8          in each case the cost-effectiveness and the 

 9          pros and cons of any particular proposal.

10                 SENATOR O'MARA:  How many employees 

11          are there at NYSERDA?  

12                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  There 

13          are -- I believe at year end, December 31, 

14          2017, we had 310 employees.

15                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Does that include the 

16          Green Bank?

17                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  It does.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Do you know how many 

19          of those are identified as Green Bank 

20          employees?  

21                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  As I 

22          testified before, I believe it's on the order 

23          of 25.  It could be plus or minus a few 

24          people.


                                                                   431

 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay, I'm sorry, I 

 2          missed that part of your testimony.

 3                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  No, that's 

 4          okay.

 5                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Now, what is the goal 

 6          ultimately -- I know you're getting started 

 7          in the Green Bank and you said you'd finally 

 8          made some money on the fund this year, less 

 9          than 1 percent in the last fiscal year.  

10                 What is the goal for the rate of 

11          return on these investments?  Is there a 

12          standard?  Are other states doing this that 

13          we -- something we can look for?  Or what's 

14          your target for return on investment?

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, the 

16          order authorizing the ratepayer investment in 

17          the New York Green Bank set out a number of 

18          aggressive targets for return on investment 

19          of the ratepayer dollar.  And that can be 

20          measured in several ways.  One would be 

21          mobilizing private investment.  And I 

22          mentioned that we see the New York Green Bank 

23          doing that already today.  

24                 There are specific targets for 


                                                                   432

 1          leveraging private investment that are 

 2          included in the order authorizing the 

 3          New York Green Bank.  There are return on 

 4          investment criteria for carbon emissions 

 5          reductions that would be associated with the 

 6          projects that get installed, and the like.  

 7          So there are a number of targets that are set 

 8          out pretty clearly in the order.

 9                 As I mentioned, the New York Green 

10          Bank reports on a quarterly basis as to 

11          progress towards those targets, based on the 

12          work that they've done to date.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Are there any other 

14          Green Banks nationally to compare to?  

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, there 

16          are a handful of Green Banks in other states.  

17          And I confess that I haven't looked at their 

18          metrics filings on a side-by-side basis to 

19          see how we stack up.  

20                 But I am pleased to say that based on 

21          the reporting that we have been doing, that 

22          we believe we are on track to meet or exceed 

23          the targets over the life of the fund.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I asked Chairman 


                                                                   433

 1          Rhodes about use of outside consultants, and 

 2          he indicated NYSERDA uses them as well.  Can 

 3          you elaborate on to what extent, how much is 

 4          spent on consultants per year, and whether 

 5          that information is available to us on who 

 6          they are, how much they're being paid, and 

 7          what the contracts are?

 8                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes.  I 

 9          don't have all of the numbers in front of me, 

10          but we do report on those under a couple of 

11          different reporting mechanisms.  But again, 

12          on a quarterly basis to our board of 

13          directors in a public meeting, we provide an 

14          update to our board both on the -- all the 

15          contracts that NYSERDA enters into, which 

16          would include contracts with consultants.

17                 So procurement for goods or services, 

18          that is a compliance filing that we make on a 

19          quarterly basis.  And then going farther, we 

20          also provide information on all contracts 

21          even if they fall outside that definition 

22          of -- I believe it's goods or services.  I 

23          may have the exact wording from the law not 

24          quite correct.


                                                                   434

 1                 But these are available, and we can 

 2          certainly make those available to you at any 

 3          time.

 4                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Are they publicly 

 5          available?

 6                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes, they 

 7          are.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  On your website?  

 9                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I'd have to 

10          check whether they're on the website.  I want 

11          to say yes, but I would have to confirm that.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  Do you have a 

13          rough estimate on how much is spent on 

14          consultants annually?  

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I'm sorry, 

16          I can't hazard a guess, but I'd be happy to 

17          update you.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

20                 Assembly?

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Assemblyman 

22          Cusick.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you.  Thank 

24          you, Mr. Chair.


                                                                   435

 1                 Thank you for being here.  I just want 

 2          to follow up on Senator Young's question on 

 3          the RGGI proceeds, the transfer of the money.  

 4          I heard your answer; I just have a follow-up 

 5          question.  How much uncommitted RGGI money 

 6          remains in NYSERDA's accounts for the 

 7          authority for the remainder of this fiscal 

 8          year?

 9                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, the 

10          RGGI auction proceeds, which NYSERDA 

11          administers on behalf of the state, are 

12          programmed on an annual basis into what we 

13          call a RGGI operating plan.  

14                 This year we recently approved the 

15          operating plan for the future fiscal year 

16          budget and actually provided a planned 

17          projection for a three-year period, 

18          essentially to reflect the fact that we have 

19          seen a trend where RGGI allowance proceeds 

20          have come in lower than were originally 

21          estimated by, you know, the outside 

22          projections that we relied on and that all 

23          the RGGI states relied on.

24                 As a result, there is -- there was 


                                                                   436

 1          reflected an overcommitment of funds, not on 

 2          a cash basis but on a forward-commitment 

 3          basis, which was part of the plan that we 

 4          reflected this year.  So as a result, there 

 5          are no further uncommitted funds.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  So there are no 

 7          uncommitted funds.

 8                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  No, I 

 9          believe the RGGI funds that we have -- that 

10          we expect to collect are fully committed and 

11          programmed.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.

13                 To stay on RGGI, what would be 

14          required to expand RGGI to cover smaller 

15          "peaker" power plants?  

16                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  So there 

17          was a proposal to -- I believe to do just 

18          that, that the Department of Environmental 

19          Conservation is pursuing that would allow 

20          smaller peakers to be captured within RGGI.  

21          That will go through a regulatory proceeding, 

22          where that would be an update to the RGGI 

23          regulations.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Is that happening 


                                                                   437

 1          now or --

 2                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes, I 

 3          believe that is under active development.  I 

 4          apologize, I don't have the exact dates for 

 5          the regulatory process.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Is there a way we 

 7          could get that for them?  

 8                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Sure.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay, thank you.

10                 Earlier this morning the commissioner 

11          of DEC had mentioned that DEC was working 

12          with NYSERDA on the Governor's plan that was 

13          announced in last year's budget of reaching 

14          100 percent renewable.  The commissioner did 

15          not get into details.

16                 Could you get into some details on 

17          where we are on that right now?

18                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Sure.  

19                 Yes, we are working with DEC and with 

20          a consultant and with outside academic 

21          stakeholders for the purposes of peer review 

22          to complete an analysis around the 

23          feasibility of achieving 100 percent 

24          renewables.  That work is ongoing.  We're 


                                                                   438

 1          really actively in the middle of that and 

 2          expect that we would be able to provide 

 3          initial results to stakeholders later this 

 4          spring.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Later this 

 6          spring, you said?  

 7                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay, great.  

 9          Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Thank you.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

11                 Senator Krueger.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good afternoon.  

13                 So the state spends approximately 

14          $1.6 billion on tax expenditures that promote 

15          fossil fuels.  Do we really think this is a 

16          good use of taxpayers' money?  And given all 

17          of our focus on investing in renewables and 

18          sustainable energy, might you think that it 

19          would be a better use of taxpayers' money to 

20          not have all of these tax credits and 

21          expenditures for use of the nonsustainable 

22          fuels?

23                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, 

24          NYSERDA is certainly working aggressively 


                                                                   439

 1          every day to support the development of 

 2          renewable energy sources.  That is core to 

 3          our mission and to our day-to-day work.  And 

 4          as I highlighted in my opening testimony, I 

 5          think we are starting to see some initial 

 6          successes that I'm very excited about.

 7                 I'm not familiar with the specific tax 

 8          credits that you're referencing, however, so 

 9          it's difficult to comment on them.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So what I would ask 

11          you to do is to go take a look at the Tax 

12          Expenditure Report that's published every 

13          year, and it has a specific chapter on 

14          petroleum product tax expenditures.

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Okay, thank 

16          you.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And then we can chat 

18          later about that.  I would appreciate that.

19                 I asked a question of DEC, I guess it 

20          was this morning or it could have been the 

21          other day -- it's been a long day -- and they 

22          directed me back towards you, about what we 

23          can be doing to potentially speed up and 

24          expand our offshore wind targets, given the 


                                                                   440

 1          fact that it appears that it's almost the 

 2          most promising sustainability model that's 

 3          out there at the moment.

 4                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, thank 

 5          you for the question.  And I'm incredibly 

 6          enthusiastic about the potential for offshore 

 7          wind in New York State.

 8                 As you are aware, the Governor has set 

 9          a goal of achieving 2400 megawatts of 

10          offshore wind for New York by the year 2030, 

11          which is an extremely aggressive goal.  And 

12          he's also indicated that we should procure 

13          the first 800 megawatts of that over 2018 and 

14          2019, effectively jump-starting our activity 

15          in this sector.  Which is really fundamental 

16          to the strategy of being a first mover in the 

17          United States in order to capitalize not only 

18          on the extremely substantial clean energy and 

19          environmental benefits associated with 

20          offshore wind, but also the economic 

21          development opportunity.

22                 NYSERDA earlier this year, in 

23          partnership with many, many other state 

24          agencies, released the New York Offshore Wind 


                                                                   441

 1          Master Plan, which provides what I strongly 

 2          believe is the most comprehensive vision for 

 3          offshore wind development by any state in the 

 4          country.  It represented years' worth of work 

 5          by NYSERDA and other state agencies to look 

 6          at issues across the board, including 

 7          responsible siting of offshore wind 

 8          facilities, procurement and cost- 

 9          effectiveness of offshore wind and how to 

10          design our policies to drive towards 

11          cost-effective outcomes as fast as possible, 

12          as well as again focusing on the significant 

13          potential for economic development and job 

14          creation that could result from the 

15          development of these projects.

16                 So with all of those pieces in place 

17          as part of that master plan, we've really 

18          laid out a very aggressive schedule and I 

19          believe are working quickly to start to bring 

20          this resource to the market.

21                 It is a long term-effort, however.  

22          Offshore wind projects are extremely 

23          substantial infrastructure projects.  They 

24          have multiyear development timelines.  But 


                                                                   442

 1          really starting with this procurement that I 

 2          mentioned that will take place by the end of 

 3          2018, that will be the first way to really 

 4          jump-start activity in the sector.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I know it's 

 6          multiyear for infrastructure.  But when we 

 7          look at how fast Europe has been bringing it 

 8          online once they got some of the technology 

 9          down, I have to just say, you know, talking 

10          about a target at 2030 just seems so far away 

11          when it seems like the Europeans -- maybe 

12          they're 10 years ahead of us already on this, 

13          but it seems like we ought to be able to, you 

14          know, speed up the process where we get to 

15          where they are.

16                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I 

17          share your enthusiasm for the potential that 

18          offshore wind holds for New York.  And I 

19          believe that we can learn the lessons from 

20          Europe and hopefully do things a lot faster.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Just very quickly 

22          also, in my last few minutes, what about the 

23          proposals that are out there to use carbon 

24          taxes to go after decreasing pollution?  Is 


                                                                   443

 1          NYSERDA looking at any of these options at 

 2          this point?  

 3                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I 

 4          believe there are a number of ideas out there 

 5          around carbon taxes and --

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Carbon pricing is 

 7          actually what I should have said, sorry.

 8                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yeah, 

 9          carbon pricing.  Again, and they go by 

10          different names and they have different 

11          variants.  And I think all of them share the 

12          common factor that they are incredibly 

13          complex and bear a great deal of thought and 

14          analysis before we can take a definitive 

15          position on any particular proposal.  

16                 But NYSERDA stands ready to 

17          participate in conversations or to help 

18          analyze specific proposals as they come 

19          forward.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  But you're not 

21          studying any of those at this time?  

22                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  No, we do 

23          not have an effort underway to study that.  

24          I'm aware that there are external parties who 


                                                                   444

 1          are making proposals.  And again, I think we 

 2          would look at each of them individually on 

 3          the merits quite carefully.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And my time is up.  

 5          But a year ago in the State of the State the 

 6          Governor said that somebody was working on a 

 7          100 percent renewable study.  Is that your 

 8          department, or is that some other department?  

 9                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes, we are 

10          working on that actively now, along with DEC, 

11          other state agencies, and with the assistance 

12          of consultants and outside academic experts.  

13          We are actively working to complete that 

14          review and expect to have proposals -- sorry, 

15          the initial results for sharing with 

16          stakeholders later this spring.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  In the spring.

18                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Yes.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

21                 Assembly?

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you.

23                 Assemblyman Carroll.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you, 


                                                                   445

 1          Chair, and good afternoon.

 2                 I would like to again talk about what 

 3          NYSERDA's role is in the switching of net 

 4          metering to VDER for residential solar use.  

 5          And what NYSERDA's point of view is that 

 6          there -- many of the current solar 

 7          installers, local solar installers around the 

 8          state believe that the current rubric for 

 9          what will become the VDER system is 

10          unworkable for the average person to 

11          understand what he or she would get out of 

12          putting solar panels on their residential 

13          roof.  

14                 And so I would want to know if NYSERDA 

15          would accept putting some type of floor for 

16          the VDER system so that people would know at 

17          least that there's a minimum that they would 

18          get out of their system every year, or if 

19          there's some other form of calculation, 

20          either doing some type of parallel system as 

21          we integrate VDER into the system, that you 

22          could keep net metering for a period of time 

23          until you're sure of what your results will 

24          be.  And if you could just kind of explain 


                                                                   446

 1          that.

 2                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, thank 

 3          you for the question.  

 4                 And, you know, I want to reiterate I 

 5          think supporting residents who wish to adopt 

 6          solar energy is something we take very 

 7          seriously at NYSERDA.  Residential solar has 

 8          been a success story in our state thus far, 

 9          and we believe it does have a significant 

10          role to play going forward, both in the 

11          instance of individually installed systems on 

12          rooftops and in the form that we see 

13          increasing enthusiasm and market appetite for 

14          around community-shared solar gardens.

15                 NYSERDA is doing a couple of things to 

16          support those efforts today.  In particular, 

17          under the NY-Sun program NYSERDA provides 

18          incentives for both types -- again, 

19          residential installations as well as 

20          supporting community solar development 

21          projects, of which there is a substantial 

22          pipeline in our state today.

23                 In particular, NYSERDA is working now 

24          to kind of revise or tweak the program rules 


                                                                   447

 1          under NY-Sun to make sure that as a result 

 2          of, for example, some of the changes to net 

 3          metering policy through the Value of 

 4          Distributed Energy Resources proceeding, that 

 5          we will see continued development and that we 

 6          can provide some longer-term stability within 

 7          the NY-Sun program, which has historically 

 8          been structured as a declining block program 

 9          to give longer-term visibility to developers 

10          so that they can in turn around and have 

11          those conversations that you're talking about 

12          with solar consumers, and be clear and 

13          articulate about what the benefits are.

14                 Going forward, as Chair Rhodes said, 

15          there hasn't been, you know, a specific 

16          conversation about changing the policy 

17          following a transition in 2020.  But we'd 

18          certainly be eager and active participants in 

19          taking a look at those options to ensure that 

20          we do continue to see solar development 

21          progress and allow consumers in New York 

22          State to adopt solar energy, which we think 

23          is an important part of the long-term 

24          strategy.


                                                                   448

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you.  

 2                 And just switching gears, I would just 

 3          like to echo some of the sentiments of 

 4          Senator Krueger and what we're doing with our 

 5          offshore wind policy off the State of 

 6          New York.  I don't think we need to look to 

 7          Europe, we can just look right to our south, 

 8          in New Jersey, and I think see a more 

 9          ambitious plan.  

10                 And I do think it's so important that 

11          if we're committed to meeting our renewable 

12          guidelines, that we have a more ambitious 

13          offshore wind plan in the coming years and 

14          not take till 2030 to build out that 

15          infrastructure.

16                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I 

17          appreciate the comment.  And we are working 

18          aggressively every day to ensure that 

19          New York is at the forefront of the U.S. 

20          offshore wind market.  We believe that we are 

21          well-positioned today, and we will continue 

22          to work to make sure we stay there.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN CARROLL:  Thank you.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator O'Mara 


                                                                   449

 1          assures me he only has one more question.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I do.

 3                 Can you shed any light on why Solar 

 4          City/Tesla doesn't have any solar panels on 

 5          its 23-acre roof?  

 6                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  

 7          Unfortunately, I cannot.  I have not spoken 

 8          to them about that particular facility.  

 9                 But to the degree that NYSERDA 

10          programs can help support the company to 

11          develop something like that, we certainly 

12          would be willing to have that conversation 

13          with them.

14                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, I think they 

15          make them, so it shouldn't be too difficult 

16          to put them on the roof. 

17                 No further questions.

18                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Assembly?  

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Yes, I'd 

21          like to ask a question or two.  

22                 First, welcome.

23                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Thank you.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Six months 


                                                                   450

 1          into this now, and you're still alive.  So 

 2          that's good.

 3                 Regarding the RGGI commitment that you 

 4          spoke of before, the commitment includes a 

 5          commitment to send about $23 million to the 

 6          General Fund.  Is that one of the 

 7          commitments?  

 8                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  There is 

 9          $23 million that is allocated to 

10          environmental tax credits that does flow 

11          through the General Fund, that's correct.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Okay.  That 

13          has the feeling of an unnecessary extra step.  

14          It seems to me that if the money could be 

15          retained and the General Fund not involved, 

16          that it could be deployed for use in one of 

17          the other programs or one of the directions 

18          that might be an innovative new program.  

19                 So I'm a little concerned that in 

20          addition to, you know, the other major 

21          programs that the tax credit program is less 

22          directly logical for the use of those 

23          dollars.  I know you inherited this, because 

24          we've been seeing it as part of the budget 


                                                                   451

 1          for a number of years.  But it is a matter of 

 2          concern.  It has the feeling of manipulation 

 3          and see if you can find the pea under the 

 4          appropriate thimble.  I'm just telling you 

 5          how it feels.  It feels like a shuffle.

 6                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I 

 7          appreciate the comment.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Regarding 

 9          the new directions to go in, there is an 

10          electric panel for heating in homes called 

11          far infrared.  Are you familiar with it?

12                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  I don't 

13          believe I am.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  It's being 

15          used in Europe.  If you're not familiar with 

16          it, I won't ask you further about it.  But I 

17          would just ask that you try to be aware that 

18          this has some potential to help answer some 

19          of our energy needs, because it uses a lot 

20          less electricity but it is an 

21          electricity-driven heating source.  Mount on 

22          the wall like a flat TV screen.  Presently in 

23          use in Europe, and starting to be imported.

24                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Well, I 


                                                                   452

 1          certainly would welcome the opportunity to 

 2          learn more about that technology.  And I'll 

 3          find out the --

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I'll see if 

 5          I can get some information to you.

 6                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Terrific.  

 7          Thank you.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I'll defer 

 9          at this time because the day is long.  But I 

10          hope to have an opportunity to meet with you 

11          further when your deck is clear and we have 

12          an opportunity to meet and talk about some of 

13          these important issues.  Thank you for being 

14          here today.

15                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

17          much.  That concludes your part of the 

18          gathering today.

19                 NYSERDA PRESIDENT BARTON:  Thank you.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And next I would 

21          like to welcome President Gil Quiniones, who 

22          is the president of the New York Power 

23          Authority.  

24                 And thank you for being here all day; 


                                                                   453

 1          I know you've been sitting waiting.  Go 

 2          ahead.  And if you want to summarize, that 

 3          would be great.

 4                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Yeah, thank 

 5          you, Chair.  Chairperson Young, Assemblyman 

 6          Englebright on the Assembly side -- in fact, 

 7          in the interests of time and stamina -- and 

 8          by the way, I'm talking about me -- I'm 

 9          willing to just go directly to Q&A if that's 

10          your preference, and just rely on my written 

11          testimony.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Sure.  If you just 

13          want to maybe point out a couple of things 

14          that you think are very important, that would 

15          be good.

16                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Okay.  I 

17          will do so.  

18                 Once again, I was prepared to say good 

19          morning, but I kind of scratched off "good 

20          afternoon," and so now good evening to all of 

21          you.  My name is Gil Quiniones, and I am the 

22          president and CEO of the New York Power 

23          Authority.  

24                 I thank you for the opportunity to 


                                                                   454

 1          talk about what NYPA has been doing during 

 2          2017 and 2018 and provide testimony today 

 3          concerning two proposals that, if enacted, 

 4          would provide benefits to the state, the 

 5          municipalities -- and I mean local 

 6          governments -- and NYPA's power supply 

 7          customers.

 8                 As you know, you know, we've been 

 9          talking tonight about renewable energy, about 

10          NYPA, 24 percent -- we're 24 percent or 

11          30 percent to our 50 percent goal.  Twenty 

12          percent of that is from clean renewable 

13          low-cost hydropower from the Power Authority.  

14          And that supports over 400,000 jobs and over 

15          $33 billion in capital investment in the 

16          state.

17                 I just want to mention a couple of 

18          things that are related to what NYPA has been 

19          doing during the past two years.  We have 

20          updated our strategic vision -- we call it 

21          Strategic Vision 2020 -- and have established 

22          a bold new goal for NYPA becoming the first 

23          end-to-end digital utility in the 

24          United States.


                                                                   455

 1                 We are determined to become even more 

 2          proficient at using data and digital tools to 

 3          provide customers with better insight into 

 4          their energy supply and demand.  We are 

 5          placing our customers at the center of all 

 6          that we do, providing them with greater 

 7          choice and control over their energy use.

 8                 We also want to become more adept at 

 9          operating in the marketplace, where energy is 

10          increasingly distributed, digitized, 

11          data-driven and, perhaps most importantly, 

12          customer-controlled.  

13                 In that regard, NYPA's New York Energy 

14          Manager, also known as NYEM, is linking 

15          almost 11,000 state-run buildings in New York 

16          on a single platform that combines the power 

17          of big data, advanced analytics, and is an 

18          important part of our asset management 

19          effort.

20                 The expansion of NYEM is helping 

21          accelerate Governor Cuomo's BuildSmart 

22          New York program.  BuildSmart New York 

23          requires all state-owned and -managed 

24          buildings to cut their energy use 20 percent 


                                                                   456

 1          by 2020.  Under BuildSmart New York, state 

 2          agencies have significantly reduced 

 3          greenhouse gas emissions and save taxpayers 

 4          an estimated $131 million in avoided energy 

 5          costs.  

 6                 We have also been involved in the 

 7          solar area.  In that regard, New York State 

 8          Parks hired NYPA to provide solar advisory 

 9          services.  We are essentially the "owner's 

10          rep," and we provided all the services 

11          required, from the site evaluation to power 

12          purchase agreement specs, RFP solicitation, 

13          developer evaluations and selection.

14                 In addition, the New York State 

15          Department of Corrections hired NYPA to 

16          provide this same service.  This will be for 

17          13.3 megawatts, pending final interconnect 

18          approvals at six locations.

19                 As for our efforts in Puerto Rico, 

20          directed by Governor Cuomo, New York public 

21          and private utilities led by NYPA responded 

22          to the terrible destruction of Hurricanes 

23          Maria and Irma.  A contingent of more than 

24          450 utility workers, 350 trucks, tools and 


                                                                   457

 1          equipment, have been working in Puerto Rico 

 2          to restore power to the San Juan metro area 

 3          since November.

 4                 And by the way, I'm pleased to report 

 5          that we should be complete this week in 

 6          restoring San Juan, which is 70 percent of 

 7          the electric load on the island.  We expect 

 8          to be redeployed to other priority regions, 

 9          such as the Caguas region, and continue our 

10          effort in this humanitarian mission.

11                 There are two important proposals for 

12          NYPA and the state in this year's budget.  

13          One proposal would amend the definition of 

14          energy-related projects, programs and 

15          services in NYPA's energy services statute, 

16          in order to clarify and enhance NYPA's 

17          authority to support projects, programs and 

18          services in three areas:  Energy management 

19          and control; energy supply security, 

20          resiliency and reliability; and energy 

21          procurement.

22                 This proposal would provide eligible 

23          entities opportunities for cost savings, 

24          expand tools for addressing climate change 


                                                                   458

 1          impacts, and increase private and 

 2          public-sector investment in clean energy 

 3          technologies to the economic benefit of the 

 4          state.

 5                 The second proposal is also a natural 

 6          fit for NYPA, which already owns and operates 

 7          extensive green power generation, mostly 

 8          hydro, throughout the state, and supplies 

 9          power to numerous public entities and private 

10          businesses.  

11                 This proposal would enhance NYPA's 

12          existing statutory powers by authorizing it 

13          to pair up the renewable energy products 

14          produced from these projects with those NYPA 

15          customers desiring such products.  The 

16          proposal is expected to have numerous 

17          benefits, including favorable pricing for 

18          energy products through utilization of NYPA's 

19          lower cost of capital; support of the State 

20          Energy Plan goals of providing 50 percent 

21          electricity from renewable resources by 2030; 

22          and promoting economic development through 

23          construction of renewable energy projects.

24                 In conclusion, the proposals discussed 


                                                                   459

 1          would deliver real benefits to the state, 

 2          local governments, and businesses, and would 

 3          continue to advance the state's leadership in 

 4          the energy and environmental arenas, and 

 5          provide new work for the state's businesses 

 6          and private-sector workforce.  

 7                 This concludes my testimony, and I 

 8          welcome your questions.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

10          President Quiniones.

11                 I do have several questions, and 

12          specifically regarding the Article VII 

13          language, Parts FF and GG.  And basically 

14          this language of these two parts would work 

15          in concert to radically expand NYPA's 

16          authority.  

17                 So currently NYPA provides power to 

18          more than a thousand customers -- local and 

19          state government entities, municipal and 

20          rural cooperative electric systems and 

21          industry, large and small businesses, and 

22          nonprofit organizations.  And Part FF would 

23          authorize NYPA to provide energy-related 

24          projects, programs and services to any of its 


                                                                   460

 1          power customers.  This part would expand the 

 2          services provided to include energy 

 3          management and control projects and services, 

 4          energy supply security, resiliency or 

 5          reliability projects and services, energy 

 6          procurement programs and services for public 

 7          entities.

 8                 And then Part GG authorizes NYPA to 

 9          develop renewable energy projects and to 

10          procure and sell renewable products to public 

11          entities and existing NYPA customers.  This 

12          part would authorize NYPA to finance, plan, 

13          design, engineer, acquire, construct, operate 

14          or manage throughout its area of service such 

15          renewable power and energy-generating 

16          projects.

17                 This part also authorizes NYPA to 

18          allocate or sell renewable power produced and 

19          recover all costs related to power 

20          development from the entities that purchase 

21          renewable power.

22                 So basically, what it does is that it 

23          allows NYPA to own the power production, sell 

24          it, manage it, and deliver it.  Are you 


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 1          concerned about creating a monopoly here?

 2                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Not really, 

 3          Senator.  

 4                 I think we need to start with the 

 5          recognition that the statutory customers of 

 6          NYPA comprise a very small slice of the total 

 7          customer base of our state if you consider 

 8          all the homes, small businesses, large 

 9          commercial and industrial customers.

10                 So for the Part FF, because of changes 

11          in technology, you know, now that digital 

12          technology and advanced controls are more in 

13          place, and because of all the severe weather 

14          events that we've encountered, the demand and 

15          need of our customers for resiliency is much 

16          more pronounced, we needed to enhance and 

17          clarify our statutory authority.  

18                 Because in the past, we would do the 

19          normal energy efficiency projects -- for 

20          example, retrofit a light, lighting retrofit, 

21          HVAC, chillers, boilers -- when now there are 

22          services that require energy management and 

23          control more in a digital sense and also 

24          facilities, especially governmental 


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 1          facilities, mission-critical facilities that 

 2          require resiliency projects such as battery 

 3          storage or microgrids, that we felt that we 

 4          needed that clarification that we can provide 

 5          those new technologies to our statutory 

 6          customers.

 7                 In terms of the Part GG, which is the 

 8          renewable energy, again, let's start with the 

 9          premise -- or with the fact that our 

10          statutory customers comprise a very small 

11          piece of the total pie.  For the past two 

12          decades, when we procure electricity supply 

13          for our customers, we've always done it 

14          through requests for proposals, through 

15          partnerships with the private sector.  And we 

16          believe that that is the right strategy.  

17          That is our first strategy to do.  

18                 However, there are situations when 

19          there is no viable market solution.  I'll 

20          Give you an example.  Back in the '50s, the 

21          Schoellkopf Power Plant came crashing down 

22          the Niagara River Gorge.  NYPA was asked to 

23          step in to build the Niagara Power Project.  

24                 In 2000, there was an electricity 


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 1          supply crisis in New York City.  NYPA was 

 2          asked to build 11 small power plants in 

 3          11 months.

 4                 So what we're saying here really is 

 5          that we need to keep that option, when there 

 6          is no viable market solution, for NYPA to be 

 7          able to build and construct renewable energy 

 8          sources.  But in the first instance, as we 

 9          have done repeatedly, we want to do it 

10          through RFP, we want to do it through 

11          partnership with the private sector.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you for that 

13          answer.  

14                 And I think there are a lot of issues 

15          that are related to this particular proposal, 

16          and one of them has to do with the taxpayers, 

17          who would be on the hook for increased costs.

18                 So under the current structure any 

19          resolutions authorizing NYPA to issue bonds 

20          must contain a covenant by NYPA that will at 

21          all times maintain rates sufficient to pay 

22          the principal of and any interest on any 

23          bonds it issues for its projects.  So that's 

24          the current status.


                                                                   464

 1                 So the new part that's proposed by the 

 2          Governor would authorize the development of 

 3          significant new renewable energy projects 

 4          which would be backed by bonds and notes that 

 5          NYPA would issue for those projects.  And 

 6          therefore, NYPA's customers would be on the 

 7          hook for paying off the bonds and notes that 

 8          NYPA would issue.

 9                 And also, I know you just mentioned 

10          partnerships, but there is a concern that it 

11          would depress the private marketplace and 

12          that innovation that's out there privately 

13          would be depressed in New York State because 

14          the government would be competing with them.  

15          And on top of it, that would be a reason 

16          maybe for some of these innovators to go to 

17          other states.  

18                 So could you comment on that?

19                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Yeah.  Let 

20          me take the last portion of your question.  

21                 We actually see the opposite.  We have 

22          heard from developers and our customers that 

23          they want options.  One of the reasons why we 

24          issued our RFP is our RFP includes very 


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 1          creative structures.  So for example, we are 

 2          not only asking for the renewable attribute, 

 3          or the RECs, we are asking -- products like 

 4          capacity and energy with the RECs bundled or 

 5          unbundled.  We are proposing prepaid PPA.  

 6          And by doing so, we reduce the cost of the 

 7          renewable purchase.  

 8                 And our customers, who are government 

 9          buildings, local government buildings and 

10          state government buildings, they want the 

11          best deal at the lowest cost because their 

12          costs are automatically, by definition, a tax 

13          burden.

14                 And so -- and we hear from the 

15          developers that in fact they want the option 

16          to be able to sell the project that they 

17          developed, say after six, seven years when 

18          the federal tax credits are realized, because 

19          they would like to then recycle that capital 

20          and develop more projects; hence, spur more 

21          economic development and more activity in 

22          developing renewable energy in our state.

23                 So our participation, albeit that 

24          we're addressing a small slice of the 


                                                                   466

 1          customer sector, in fact catalyzes innovation 

 2          rather than suppresses it.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.

 4                 What about the taxpayers?  So right 

 5          now they would be held to the same rate of -- 

 6          you know.  And if this goes forward, wouldn't 

 7          they be on the hook for paying additional 

 8          costs?

 9                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, the 

10          way we structure these contracts is what we 

11          call back to back.  So because we are 

12          obligated to supply electricity to our 

13          customers, the contract -- so if our 

14          customers buy X amount of power from us, we 

15          would only contract X amount also with a 

16          private developer.  So it's a fully 

17          back-to-back contract.  

18                 And because of our cost of capital and 

19          because of, again, these creative financing 

20          structures that we can do, like prepaid PPA, 

21          we are finding out that we actually extract a 

22          tremendous discount, meaning that the 

23          ultimate cost to our customers is much lower 

24          than if it were done the normal way.


                                                                   467

 1                 So it's -- the end result is that it's 

 2          cheaper rather than costlier.  And it's less 

 3          risky rather than riskier.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So I notice in the 

 5          budget memo it claims that savings would 

 6          result from these two parts.  So that's what 

 7          you're referencing in your comments just now, 

 8          that those would actually supply savings.  

 9          And if that's the case, how much are those 

10          savings?

11                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, we 

12          estimate in the large-scale renewable that 

13          savings can be between 10 and 20 percent 

14          compared to a normal deal.

15                 So for example, if we do a prepaid 

16          PPA, a prepaid power purchase agreement, with 

17          an option to buy an asset from a developer 

18          after the federal tax credits have been 

19          realized, that we have been seeing proposals 

20          that have savings between 10 and 20 percent.

21                 And again, all of those savings accrue 

22          to our customers -- government buildings, 

23          state buildings.  And as you know, local 

24          government and state government budgets are 


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 1          tight, and it's very critical that we provide 

 2          them the best deal at the lowest cost.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 4          Mr. President, for those answers.  

 5                 But how can the savings be claimed 

 6          when it's not possible to compare NYPA's 

 7          financial strength and its bonding ability to 

 8          the market revenues that private developers 

 9          would get from the competitive wholesale 

10          electricity market?

11                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, 

12          it's -- you know, you see it because there's 

13          price discovery when you do an RFP.  Right?  

14          When you do an RFP like ours, we say give us 

15          a price without a prepaid PPA and an option 

16          to purchase, and give us a price based on 

17          taking advantage of a prepaid PPA.  And we 

18          could see the difference.  So the RFP itself 

19          is a price discovery.

20                 Now, it's important -- and I must -- 

21          you know, a related issue, some -- not all, 

22          some developers say that because NYPA is 

23          participating in the market, it's suppressing 

24          competition --


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Correct.

 2                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  -- in the 

 3          private market.  But in fact what we're 

 4          seeing is that it actually enhances the 

 5          competition because we see -- you know, we 

 6          become -- it's important for all of us to 

 7          have somebody like a NYPA that serves as a 

 8          yardstick.  You want to know whether, hey, 

 9          are the private sector also offering a 

10          competitive product.  You won't know that if 

11          there's nothing to compare with.  

12                 By us providing the services to a 

13          sliver or a smaller size of the customer 

14          base, you could see whether indeed it is a 

15          better deal or not a better deal.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  What happens if 

17          it's not a better deal?

18                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, if 

19          it's not a better deal, our customers will 

20          tell us:  Buy it from the market.  And that's 

21          what we do.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  How will your 

23          customers be able to do that?

24                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  We will buy 


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 1          it for them.  Since we are their load-serving 

 2          entity and we have the obligation to buy 

 3          power for them, we look for the best deal.  

 4          Either we buy it from the market or we buy it 

 5          through partnership with the private 

 6          developers.  Our goal is to give them the 

 7          best deal.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you want to 

 9          build renewables, new renewables.  How much 

10          will that cost?  Have you outlined projects?  

11          Have you done estimates, have you done any 

12          planning?  What are we looking at?  

13                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  So, yeah, 

14          we currently have an RFP right now, so -- and 

15          it's still part of the evaluation period and 

16          I can't really speak to the details of that.  

17                 But that is part of the process by 

18          which we procure renewable energy for our 

19          customers to help them comply with the 

20          50 percent goal by 2030.  And it will be, you 

21          know, feathered in over that period of time.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

23                 Now, NYPA currently has debt, correct?

24                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Very little 


                                                                   471

 1          debt.  In fact, NYPA is probably, if not the 

 2          strongest public power utility in the 

 3          nation -- we're rated AA, and our debt 

 4          service coverage ratio or our fixed-charge 

 5          coverage ratio is at the top quartile of all 

 6          of our peers.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So do you know how 

 8          much in bonds does NYPA have outstanding?  

 9          And what are those bonds for?

10                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  I don't 

11          know the exact amount right now of what's 

12          outstanding in our debt.  I can tell you that 

13          our equity and debt structure is 65 equity, 

14          35 debt.  Which is, again, one of the 

15          strongest capital structures of any utility, 

16          whether it's investor-run or a public utility 

17          of the United States.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

19                 How much in payments does NYPA make 

20          for the bonds?  And from where within NYPA 

21          does that money come from?

22                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, we 

23          pay our bonds through our operating revenues.  

24          And as I've mentioned, NYPA has had, for over 


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 1          a decade now, an accelerated debt repayment 

 2          plan.  And that's the reason why NYPA is -- 

 3          has been one of the strongest, financially, 

 4          public power utilities in the United States.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 6                 And just one final question.  What's 

 7          the status of the RFP that NYPA issued in 

 8          2017 to buy renewables as part of its efforts 

 9          to meet the Clean Energy Fund?  

10                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  It's 

11          currently under evaluation.  So we are 

12          working with our customers on the one hand.  

13          And we're also trying to get the best deal 

14          amongst the developers who responded.  We're 

15          in the middle of the process.  And, you know, 

16          it will probably take a couple of months, a 

17          few months before we finalize the results.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, so you don't 

19          know when the award dates will occur, then?

20                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No 

21          definitive date at this point.  Because as 

22          I've mentioned before, we need to match what 

23          our customers would prefer to what we can get 

24          from the developers.


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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 2                 Assembly?  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 4          Cusick, chair of Energy.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you.  

 6                 Thank you, Mr. President.  I look 

 7          forward to working with you in my new 

 8          capacity as chair of the Energy Committee of 

 9          the Assembly.

10                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  I look 

11          forward to working with you as well.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you.  Nice 

13          to meet you tonight.

14                 I want to follow up Senator Young's 

15          questioning on the Article VII provision, the 

16          Part GG.  I do have some questions on it.  

17          Specifically, you know, we've been asking 

18          this question to other panelists who have 

19          been here.  What can NYPA provide in the 

20          renewable space that other existing entities 

21          cannot?

22                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  So for our 

23          statutory customers -- you know, we have 

24          governmental customers in southeastern 


                                                                   474

 1          New York, we have 51 small municipal and 

 2          rural cooperative utilities we serve, and we 

 3          have economic development customers that we 

 4          serve.  

 5                 What NYPA can provide to those 

 6          customers, like I described before, are a set 

 7          of creative structures that result in the 

 8          best deal that our customers can get at the 

 9          lowest cost.  Because of our cost of capital, 

10          because of the way we could structure the 

11          financing and be able to buy multiple types 

12          of products -- not just the attributes of the 

13          renewables, but we can buy capacity, we can 

14          buy energy and we can bundle or unbundle -- 

15          that flexibility and that creativity results 

16          in better deals at the lowest cost for our 

17          customers.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  And taking on 

19          this new responsibility if this goes 

20          through -- Senator Young also asked about 

21          debt that NYPA has, and you said very little.  

22          But would this affect your current position 

23          and your current projects that are out there?

24                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Not 


                                                                   475

 1          materially, because of the way we structure 

 2          our contracts as back to back.  Meaning that 

 3          if we sell X amount of power to a set of 

 4          customers, we will only buy X amount of power 

 5          from the developer.  So they match perfectly.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  So you're not 

 7          concerned that it might be too much, that 

 8          NYPA may be taking on too much.

 9                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No, not at 

10          all.  Again, it does not materially impact 

11          our capital structure.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  And you don't 

13          consider it a monopoly also.

14                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  It's not, 

15          because we are only addressing a small 

16          section of the customer base.  We're talking 

17          about local governments, state buildings, our 

18          municipal customers and our economic 

19          development customers.  Which again, taken 

20          compared to the whole, is a small part of the 

21          market.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  When you talk 

23          about that specific constituency, do you have 

24          specific projects in mind that you would take 


                                                                   476

 1          upon yourself with this legislation going 

 2          through?  

 3                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No.  Most 

 4          of the -- no specific projects.  We would do 

 5          RFPs.  In the first instance, what we would 

 6          like to do is to partner with the private 

 7          sector.  We will only consider building 

 8          ourselves if there is no viable 

 9          private-sector solution.  Or if there is an 

10          emergency or a compelling public policy 

11          reason for us doing the actual designing and 

12          building.

13                 But in the first instance, our goal is 

14          to partner with the private sector.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  So you would 

16          partner with the private sector on the 

17          construction part of this -- this --

18                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No, it will 

19          just be a contractual agreement.  We will -- 

20          the winning developer or developers will 

21          develop, design, permit, construct, finance, 

22          build the project, and they will just sell us 

23          electricity that we will then sell to our 

24          customers.  Under a long-term contract.


                                                                   477

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  In coming up with 

 2          this plan, before it was announced was there 

 3          any talk of including utilities or privately 

 4          owned companies in going forward with this 

 5          NYPA plan?

 6                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No.  We 

 7          wanted to make sure that we're only 

 8          addressing primarily our statutory customers, 

 9          and not really expand it and --

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  They don't 

11          provide for those statutory customers that 

12          you provide to also?

13                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No.  No.  

14          We have our own customers, and the utilities 

15          have their customers.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  So moving forward 

17          on that, would you be open to amending for 

18          utilities?

19                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  To?

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  To the -- for the 

21          NYPA supporting amending legislation --

22                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Right 

23          now -- I think I understand your issue.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Yeah, hang on.  I 


                                                                   478

 1          lost my train of thought.  It's been late in 

 2          the night.  I apologize.

 3                 Let me go back to -- on the renewable 

 4          projects, you don't have any specific 

 5          projects in mind?  

 6                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No.  To 

 7          serve our customers, we do it through RFPs.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.  And you 

 9          would -- I'm just going back, backtracking.  

10          So you would provide private companies a hand 

11          in those contracts?

12                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  We will 

13          sign long-term power purchase agreements to 

14          buy the output of their projects, and then 

15          sell that to our customers.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  All set?

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  I just have one 

18          more, I'm sorry.  (Pause.)  I'll come back.  

19          I'll come back.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Senator 

21          O'Mara.

22                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Good evening.

23                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Good 

24          evening, Senator.


                                                                   479

 1                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thanks for hanging 

 2          around.

 3                 First of all, now that you're the 

 4          proud owner of a canal system celebrating its 

 5          200th anniversary this year --

 6                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  It was 

 7          great, we celebrated the canal's 

 8          bicentennial, and we had a series of events.  

 9          It's a great history of our state, it's a 

10          great metaphor on what we can achieve as the 

11          people of this state.

12                 SENATOR O'MARA:  There's a lot of 

13          celebrations going on throughout this year, 

14          continued.  

15                 So I want to thank you for your 

16          involvement with the Power Authority in 

17          assisting with so many of the events along 

18          the canal, and coming up this year, and in 

19          particular with the Corning Glass barge 

20          that's a big part of that.  And that's going 

21          to be a big year for that as well.  So I 

22          appreciate your assistance in that.

23                 On the getting into renewables, do you 

24          support the opportunity for other utility 


                                                                   480

 1          companies to be able to build their own 

 2          renewable power facilities?

 3                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  That is 

 4          really for the Public Service Commission to 

 5          deal with and opine.  I would leave this 

 6          issue to them.

 7                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Okay.  Now, we've 

 8          heard testimony from Chairman Rhodes, 

 9          NYSERDA, on our Clean Energy goals being met 

10          through the private sector and the private 

11          marketplace.  So why do you feel there's a 

12          need for -- based on that, what is the need 

13          for NYPA to get involved in doing these 

14          generation projects?

15                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  As I had 

16          mentioned, Senator, we also help our 

17          customers achieve the Clean Energy Standard 

18          through partnerships with the private sector.  

19          So it is completely aligned with the goals of 

20          NYSERDA and the PSC.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  But you've indicated 

22          that you only will need to do these projects 

23          when there's no viable market solution.

24                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  So in our 


                                                                   481

 1          first -- in the first instance, our goal is 

 2          to do RFPs and work with the private sector.

 3                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Which you can do now.

 4                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Yeah, 

 5          exactly, to help our customers reach their 

 6          goals.

 7                 And we also want to supply all local 

 8          government and government buildings across 

 9          the state.  Right now we can only supply 

10          government buildings in southeast New York, 

11          state buildings and local government 

12          buildings.  And I believe that local 

13          governments and state buildings in upstate 

14          New York should have that opportunity as 

15          well, as they have the same issues in terms 

16          of trying to manage their budgets to get the 

17          best deal.

18                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Shouldn't residents 

19          and individual consumers be able to do the 

20          same?  

21                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No, it will 

22          be -- it will be targeted to government 

23          entities.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So the government 


                                                                   482

 1          will get an unfair advantage over us in our 

 2          homes.

 3                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  I wouldn't 

 4          say it's an unfair advantage, because we are 

 5          all taxpayers and we support -- as we lower 

 6          the cost of government at the state or local 

 7          level, that benefits everybody.

 8                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, we live in a 

 9          very uncompetitive state, as you're well 

10          aware -- 48th, 49th or 50th in every economic 

11          indicator, trailing in the United States.  I 

12          would think we'd be worrying about making 

13          more competitive power prices for everyone, 

14          and not just local governments.

15                 And you indicated that the only 

16          projects that you would take on under this 

17          thing would be projects where there's no 

18          viable market solution.  Well, if there's no 

19          viable market solution and we're meeting our 

20          goals right now with viable market solutions, 

21          then perhaps we shouldn't be pursuing 

22          projects that aren't viable.

23                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, I 

24          think that it is not prudent for this state 


                                                                   483

 1          to preclude the option for NYPA to step in 

 2          when there is no viable market solution or if 

 3          there is a compelling public policy goal or 

 4          emergency.  Why preclude that option for the 

 5          state?  I don't think that is beneficial to 

 6          this -- and by the way, I disagree in terms 

 7          of the energy markets.  New York State is 

 8          probably one of the most open and competitive 

 9          marketplaces when it comes to energy.  A 

10          third of our country is still not deregulated 

11          and are fully integrated utilities and do not 

12          have any competition.  

13                 So I disagree with the premise that 

14          our state is not competitive when it comes to 

15          energy.

16                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Well, we're not 

17          competitive on the price of energy.  We're 

18          competitive as regards to deregulation, which 

19          was done, what, 15 years ago.  Which -- I 

20          lost my train of thought.  But the -- let me 

21          just move on to my next points I wanted to 

22          make, which is -- I'll think of that in a 

23          second.

24                 But if you go ahead with this and you 


                                                                   484

 1          get the power to -- well, I know what I was 

 2          going to say.  I was going to say I agree 

 3          with you on emergency projects, to be able to 

 4          do this.  You've done it in the past, you've 

 5          given examples of those, and that to me may 

 6          make sense.  But it doesn't make sense to me 

 7          to pursue these where there -- just because 

 8          it's not a viable market solution.

 9                 If this authority is given -- and you 

10          don't have any plans right now to pursue any 

11          specific projects, correct?  

12                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  None.

13                 SENATOR O'MARA:  If you were going to 

14          pursue a project, does the Power Authority 

15          have the power of condemnation and eminent 

16          domain?

17                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  I don't 

18          know exactly the answer to that question, but 

19          I can get back to you.  I don't know what our 

20          legal authority is in that specific area.

21                 SENATOR O'MARA:  I believe you do.  

22          Would projects you intend to pursue, would 

23          they be covered by Article 10 or the SEQR 

24          process?  


                                                                   485

 1                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Article 10.

 2                 SENATOR O'MARA:  So that would take 

 3          much local input out of the planning process, 

 4          Article 10.

 5                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Yeah, 

 6          Article 10.  If we build transmission, we are 

 7          subject to Article 7.  So all the siting law 

 8          of the state applies to NYPA projects.

 9                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Yeah.  And so where 

10          you might be looking at locating one of these 

11          project facilities, it wouldn't be subject to 

12          local SEQR process.

13                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  It will be 

14          subject -- depending on the size of the 

15          project, it will be subject to either -- if 

16          it's a power plant, it will be Article 10.  

17          If it's a transmission line, it will be 

18          Article 7.

19                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Are your projects 

20          covered under prevailing wage laws?

21                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  I am not a 

22          hundred percent sure.  I believe so, but I'll 

23          get back to you with that answer.

24                 SENATOR O'MARA:  Thank you.


                                                                   486

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 2                 (Discussion off the record.)

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 4          Jenne.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.

 6                 Thank you.  This is very intriguing.  

 7          Just full disclosure, I live in a muni, so 

 8          essentially I'm one of your little segment of 

 9          the -- I guess the market that you serve.

10                 And would it be fair to say that some 

11          of these changes are aimed at kind of untying 

12          your arms from behind your back and allowing 

13          you to modernize and come up to speed with 

14          other entities that essentially supply energy 

15          to people like the muni I live in?  

16                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Part of it.  

17          As I had mentioned, you know, especially 

18          nowadays with renewable energy, it's no 

19          longer a one-size-fits-all.  And it's 

20          important to support municipal utilities, 

21          state buildings, local governments, that we 

22          provide all the options to get the best deal 

23          at the lowest cost.  Because in the end, cost 

24          of government, whether it's state or local, 


                                                                   487

 1          is a tax burden.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  Okay.  

 3          Yup.

 4                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Now, in 

 5          times of --

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  So you're also 

 7          talking about school districts as well, I'm 

 8          assuming.

 9                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Yup, school 

10          districts.  And as you know, we have a 

11          program we call K-Solar, where we are 

12          installing solar panels in public schools 

13          around the state, offering innovative power 

14          purchase agreements.  And we have had many of 

15          those in our pipeline.  Some are already 

16          getting installed.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay, I only get 

18          five minutes, unlike the 10 that everybody 

19          else gets, for some reason, because I'm not a 

20          chair.  

21                 So I understand the benefits, and I 

22          would like to get to a bunch of other things.  

23          So I understand what you do because I live 

24          it, I'm one of your customers.


                                                                   488

 1                 One of the things that happens -- 

 2          because when I bought my house a few years 

 3          ago, I have electric heat.  And in the 

 4          winter, my bills go through the roof because 

 5          we go over our allocation.

 6                 If you're going to be able to acquire, 

 7          to purchase or build your own, more 

 8          generation, will you be working with your 

 9          customers to increase their allocation, even 

10          if it's at a blended rate?  Because we're 

11          paying for high-demand type of energy right 

12          now, versus stuff that you can procure in a 

13          more cost-effective way.  Would you be 

14          looking to increase allocations to your 

15          customers?  

16                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Before I do 

17          that, I would probably ask you to look into 

18          either ground-source or air-source heat pumps 

19          to replace your electric baseboard heating.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Well, if you 

21          want to help finance that -- but those 

22          programs are few and far between, because I 

23          don't get NYSERDA type of incentives.  And so 

24          those programs within the muni systems are 


                                                                   489

 1          difficult to access, if they even exist.  I 

 2          can get light bulbs and maybe if I replace a 

 3          wash or dryer or something.

 4                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Yeah, the 

 5          municipal and rural cooperatives have their 

 6          own energy efficiency program.  But we'll be 

 7          more than happy to work with you to look at 

 8          options.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  But we're also 

10          unable to expand, you know, from an economic 

11          development standpoint, because our 

12          allocations are kind of constrained.  And so 

13          I guess maybe I'm suggesting that that may be 

14          a way to garner some more support, is if, 

15          well, we have energy efficiency targets we'd 

16          like to meet, you know, we're constrained 

17          from development within these communities 

18          because it's kind of a process to get an 

19          increase in allocation even though we're 

20          trying to grow.

21                 It's very -- you can make power, say, 

22          in Massena very cheaply.  But are there 

23          instances when you're not really even getting 

24          the price for your power that -- you know, 


                                                                   490

 1          what it costs to generate it versus what you 

 2          can get for it?

 3                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, there 

 4          are times in the year -- there are hours, I 

 5          would say, in the year where we have 

 6          experienced very low or even negative 

 7          pricing.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Is that because 

 9          of transmission issues, partly?

10                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  It's 

11          because of transmission constraints.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  And it's outside 

13          of your territory?  You know, I know you're 

14          upgrading the Adirondack line.  But once you 

15          get south of Utica, are those transmission 

16          issues being addressed so that you can fully 

17          get your power to other parts of the state?  

18                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, at 

19          NYPA we have a -- what we call an 

20          transmission extension and modernization, 

21          life extension and modernization program.  

22          We're investing $730 million over 12 years.  

23          As you had mentioned, we are rebuilding our 

24          Moses Adirondack transmission line, which 


                                                                   491

 1          starts from Massena and goes all the way to 

 2          the Adirondacks, 85 miles.  That should help.

 3                 Chairman Rhodes talked about the 

 4          AC proceeding, the competitive process that 

 5          will build transmission south of Albany to 

 6          southeastern New York.  The previous 

 7          competitive process in Western New York was 

 8          just completed, and a winner has been 

 9          declared to rebuild a transmission line 

10          there.

11                 All of those projects are going to 

12          help to move power where they're generated to 

13          where they're needed.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Okay.  I'll come 

15          back, unless I'm allowed to continue.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

17          Cusick for another question.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay, thank you.  

19                 Thank you.  I just wanted to follow up 

20          on the question that escaped me before.  And 

21          my confusion in that matter was doesn't the 

22          definition of public entity -- isn't it 

23          amended in this legislation?  And doesn't 

24          that expand your statutory customer base?


                                                                   492

 1                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Well, it 

 2          does allow us to deal with local development 

 3          corporations and local government in the 

 4          provision of our electricity supply and 

 5          energy services.

 6                 But again, that is -- as I had 

 7          mentioned before, we do that in southeast 

 8          New York right now.  We serve state and local 

 9          government buildings in southeast New York 

10          and Westchester County.  And we think that it 

11          is appropriate that that opportunity be given 

12          as well to localities in upstate New York.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  So it doesn't 

14          expand your customer base.

15                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  No, it's 

16          still within that government segment.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.  Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That's it.  So 

19          thank you, President Quiniones, for being 

20          here today -- 

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Does that mean I 

22          don't get a second pass?

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Oh, I'm sorry.  I 

24          was told you were done.  


                                                                   493

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 2          Jenne.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.

 4                 In testimony with other officials 

 5          there was a lot of emphasis on siting.  And 

 6          you have -- and obviously if it's over 

 7          20 megawatts, it's going to go through the 

 8          Article 10 process.  But if it's under, 

 9          obviously it would go through the normal 

10          local process.

11                 Do you have any policies in place to 

12          try to locate whatever generation you help to 

13          bring online closer to your customers?  

14                 As I mentioned earlier, I live between 

15          two dams, one generates and one does not.  

16          And in another small village, there's one 

17          that hasn't operated in a while.  That's just 

18          5 miles away from one of your customers.  And 

19          in the Village of Potsdam, I have dams 

20          that -- it's difficult for those 

21          municipalities sometimes to get their arms 

22          around how to get them repaired and up and 

23          running, and that's what you're proficient 

24          in, is hydro.  


                                                                   494

 1                 And so are you looking to think about 

 2          siting as a major component to the 

 3          development of new generation?

 4                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  As I 

 5          mentioned before, we will do it through a 

 6          competitive process, so we will not be so 

 7          specific where those projects will be because 

 8          we would like to get the most competitive 

 9          deals from developers when we do those --

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  But arguably 

11          that could be calculated in, because the 

12          closer you are to your end user, the cheaper 

13          the rate is going to be.  And if you're 

14          making decisions based on the rate that 

15          you'll be able to get your customer, 

16          collocation or close location would be 

17          probably -- it would a component to drive 

18          development.

19                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  And that 

20          should be reflected in their proposal, in 

21          their pricing to us.  If indeed there's an 

22          advantage, then it should be priced in.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  And that's -- 

24          all right.  And that's -- I mean, you've set 


                                                                   495

 1          up a really interesting competition between 

 2          yourself and NYSERDA, it seems like.  I have 

 3          developers that have applied to both 

 4          entities, you know, to see which one they get 

 5          the money from.

 6                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Competition 

 7          is great, because it drives prices down.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  So there's this 

 9          concern that for some reason you're being 

10          monopolistic and you're going to have this 

11          ability to do something that others can't.  

12          But it will be really interesting to see what 

13          you're able to deliver in terms of megawatt 

14          hour cost of -- you know, NYSERDA may be 

15          28 cents per kilowatt, but what you might -- 

16          well, whatever the measurement is -- but what 

17          you might be able to do based on how you've 

18          designed your programs to get this green 

19          energy production.

20                 Is there -- was it a conscious 

21          decision for you to structure things 

22          dramatically different than NYSERDA?  

23                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  It was a 

24          conscious thing in the sense that we are 


                                                                   496

 1          different in that we are a load-serving 

 2          entity.  So we have customers today where we 

 3          are obligated to supply them electricity, 

 4          energy and capacity, and now renewable 

 5          energy, with the renewable energy attributes 

 6          that come with that.

 7                 NYSERDA is not a load-serving entity.  

 8          They do not have customers that they supply 

 9          electricity to.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  So they're blind 

11          to that whole dynamic of energy generation 

12          and supply.

13                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  It's apples 

14          and oranges.  

15                 But I want to make clear that a 

16          developer is not going to be able to double 

17          dip, meaning get an award from NYSERDA and 

18          get an award from NYPA.  That's not going to 

19          happen.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Well, it will be 

21          interesting to see which one they choose.  

22          Because I have developers, like I said, with 

23          both, and to see if they think that yours is 

24          a better deal for them and is also cheaper 


                                                                   497

 1          for the ratepayer, it might lead us to make 

 2          some changes over at NYSERDA in how they run 

 3          their programs.

 4                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  And then 

 5          sometimes developers will choose just the REC 

 6          value because that's simpler, that's faster, 

 7          and they can just go ahead and do a deal.  

 8                 In our case, we need to have a deal 

 9          with our customer first before we can sign a 

10          deal with them.  It's more complicated.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Now, I would 

12          also -- I'm also interested in whether these 

13          projects have to pay prevailing wage, but 

14          probably for the opposite reason than my 

15          colleague is concerned about it, because I 

16          would really like them to be prevailing wage.  

17          And if there is an opportunity for project 

18          labor agreements, if it's not going to be -- 

19          these projects are not going to have existing 

20          NYPA employees.  But also I'm cognizant of 

21          the fact that you do a lot of outsourcing and 

22          consulting, and I would much rather see, if 

23          we're going to have NYPA get into this type 

24          of activity on a larger scale, that they be 


                                                                   498

 1          actual NYPA employees on the books, not 

 2          consultants, not private contractors.  

 3                 I think you're aware of my position on 

 4          these types of things, that we try to do 

 5          things in-house and build the expertise 

 6          in-house.  I think it probably served us well 

 7          when you went to Puerto Rico, and thank you 

 8          for going and assisting in that country.

 9                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  And that's 

10          what we're doing even with our own existing 

11          power plants now, and transmission lines.  We 

12          work very closely with our union, IBEW, both 

13          in Western New York and Central and Northern 

14          New York, in the upkeep and the maintenance 

15          of our assets.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JENNE:  Thank you.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

18                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Thank you 

19          very much.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We're all set.  

21          Thank you so much.

22                 NYPA PRESIDENT QUINIONES:  Thank you.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

24                 So now we are starting the citizen 


                                                                   499

 1          portion of the hearing, and we'll start with 

 2          the Farm Bureau.  We have their testimony; 

 3          they had to leave.  So we'll start with 

 4          Samantha Levy, policy manager from the 

 5          American Farmland Trust.  

 6                 And I would like to remind everyone 

 7          that you have five minutes.  And if you can 

 8          summarize your testimony, that's most 

 9          helpful.  We did get it in advance.  

10                 And we really, really appreciate your 

11          patience in being here today.  Good to see 

12          you.

13                 MS. LEVY:  Good to see you too, 

14          Senator.  The last time I saw you was on a 

15          farm in Livingston County.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  One of the greatest 

17          places to be.

18                 MS. LEVY:  So I'd like to thank all 

19          the members for still being here.  I know 

20          that this has been a very long day.

21                 So as you know, I'm from American 

22          Farmland Trust, a conservation organization 

23          looking to save the land that sustains us.  

24          And I am going to summarize my testimony 


                                                                   500

 1          today, in the interests of time and out of 

 2          consideration for my colleagues.  

 3                 I'm here with four requests that I ask 

 4          for you to consider including in this year's 

 5          state budget.  

 6                 American Farmland Trust leads a 

 7          Farmland Protection Coalition of over 30 land 

 8          trusts and agricultural organizations across 

 9          New York State.  This Farmland Protection 

10          Coalition supports the first two requests 

11          that I'm going to detail right now, the first 

12          being that the Governor, in his Executive 

13          Budget, proposed $20 million for farmland 

14          protection in New York as part of a 

15          $300 million EPF.  This Farmland Protection 

16          Coalition and American Farmland Trust 

17          strongly support this level of funding for 

18          this important program.  

19                 Since 1980, in New York State we have 

20          lost 5,000 farms to development.  This 

21          program protects farmland forever, in 

22          perpetuity, and helps farmers invest in their 

23          businesses.  It's incredibly popular and 

24          oversubscribed.


                                                                   501

 1                 And the second request that I'm going 

 2          to make is this coalition supports investing 

 3          $400,000 -- asks that the state invest 

 4          $400,000 in a Farmland for a New Generation 

 5          program.  This program would address an 

 6          emerging issue that we have facing our 

 7          farmland in New York State and our farmers.  

 8          In New York, 30 percent of our farmers are 

 9          over the age of 65, nearing retirement, and 

10          access to affordable land remains one of the 

11          main barriers for new farmers.  And as a 

12          result, we have fewer new farmers now than we 

13          did a decade ago.

14                 This program that we're asking the 

15          state to fund would create a centralized 

16          resource center to help farmers access land 

17          anywhere in New York State.  It would also 

18          create a regional support network housed in 

19          Cornell Cooperative Extension offices and 

20          land trusts and agricultural organizations, 

21          to help farmers access land anywhere in 

22          New York and farmers transfer their farmland 

23          to the next generation.  

24                 And I know that this is an important 


                                                                   502

 1          issue across all regions in New York State,

 2          so I'd like to thank Cornell for their 

 3          support of this program.  I'd like to thank 

 4          Senator Helming for her leadership, and the 

 5          Legislative Commission on Rural Resources.  

 6          I'd also like to thank Assemblymember Magee 

 7          for his leadership in supporting this 

 8          proposal, as well as Assemblymember Woerner, 

 9          Frank Skartados, Assemblymember Thiele, thank 

10          you very much as well.

11                 The third request that American 

12          Farmland Trust and our coalition has -- this 

13          is a separate coalition called the New York 

14          Grown Food for New York Kids coalition.  

15          Earlier today, Commissioner Ball mentioned 

16          that the Governor proposed $10 million to go 

17          toward a reimbursement incentive for schools 

18          to purchase more food from our farms in 

19          New York.  This is a win/win for our farmers 

20          and for our children who will have access to 

21          more healthy food in schools.

22                 We strongly support the creation of 

23          this program and the $10 million put into the 

24          budget, the Executive Budget proposal, to 


                                                                   503

 1          create this program, as well as doubling the 

 2          Farm to School grants.

 3                 This coalition is made up of over 70 

 4          public health, anti-hunger, environmental, 

 5          food, farm, and school organizations across 

 6          New York, and the support for this program is 

 7          very broad.

 8                 We ask for two minor adjustments to 

 9          this program that the Governor proposed, and 

10          those are detailed in my testimony.  So I'll 

11          let you -- I ask that you strongly consider 

12          including these -- if you put this proposal 

13          into your budget, that you strongly consider 

14          including these adjustments to make sure that 

15          this program is as impactful as it possibly 

16          can be.

17                 And then finally, the fourth request 

18          that we have comes from American Farmland 

19          Trust and our Farmland Protection Coalition.  

20          Assemblymember Thiele, I know that you are 

21          intimately familiar, as well as 

22          Assemblymember Englebright, with this 

23          issue in Suffolk County that our Farmland 

24          Preservation Program is currently facing.  


                                                                   504

 1          American Farmland Trust and our Farmland 

 2          Protection Coalition strongly support 

 3          inclusion of language in the state budget to 

 4          ensure that our Farmland Protection Program 

 5          in Suffolk County and across the state 

 6          maintains its integrity.  

 7                 And I know that Rob Carpenter from 

 8          Long Island Farm Bureau, as well as 

 9          John Halsey from Peconic Land Trust, will be 

10          speaking more about this later, so I will 

11          defer to them.  

12                 And the language developed with the 

13          Department of Agriculture and Markets is also 

14          included in my written testimony.  

15                 And thank you very much for the 

16          opportunity, and I welcome any questions that 

17          you might have.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I just 

19          have one quick question from the Senate.  

20                 In your Farming for the Next 

21          Generation program -- and I have visited the 

22          training facility in the Hudson Valley, it's 

23          very impressive --

24                 MS. LEVY:  Thank you.


                                                                   505

 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- are you looking 

 2          at the fact that actually New York State has 

 3          many immigrants who come to our state who 

 4          were farmers in their home countries?  And 

 5          it's never clear that we're doing enough to 

 6          encourage them to continue a set of skills 

 7          they had in one country now that they have 

 8          come to New York, and I'm wondering if anyone 

 9          is building that into their thinking.

10                 MS. LEVY:  Yes.  Absolutely.  I thank 

11          you very much for that question, it's very 

12          important to us.  

13                 I know that there are people who come 

14          to our country with degrees in agricultural 

15          engineering, and it would be a missed 

16          opportunity not to take full advantage of 

17          their knowledge and expertise.

18                 One of our partners in the Hudson 

19          Valley Farmlink Network is GrowNYC, which 

20          administers the Farm Roots program which 

21          helps immigrant populations find land across 

22          New York.  They're part of the Hudson Valley 

23          Farmlink network and would potentially serve 

24          as a regional navigator who would help these 


                                                                   506

 1          people access land in New York to be able to 

 2          grow food.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 4                 MS. LEVY:  You're welcome.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.

 6                 MS. LEVY:  Thank you very much.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And our next 

 9          testifier is Jessica Mahar of the Nature 

10          Conservancy.  

11                 And for people who are getting ready 

12          to line up, after that will be the Audubon 

13          New York followed by Long Island Farm Bureau, 

14          if people want to move towards the front.

15                 Good evening, Jessica.

16                 MS. MAHAR:  Hi.  Thank you all for 

17          staying.  There's a lot of you here, and it's 

18          late, so we appreciate that.

19                 I'm Jessica Ottney Mahar.  I'm the 

20          policy director for the Nature Conservancy in 

21          New York.  I submitted testimony, it's 

22          long -- it's really long -- I won't read any 

23          of it.  

24                 Thank you so much for all the work you 


                                                                   507

 1          did in last year's budget to ensure a $300 

 2          million EPF.  The Environmental Protection 

 3          Fund is a critically important source of 

 4          revenue for capital environmental projects in 

 5          our state as well as some operating support 

 6          for key institutions around the state.

 7                 So earlier in the testimony, I believe 

 8          during the testimony given by two of the 

 9          commissioners, you had heard about the zoos, 

10          botanical gardens, and aquaria program which 

11          supports our living museums across the state 

12          and the Nature Conservancy -- in full 

13          disclosure.

14                 That program is slated in the 

15          Executive Budget proposal to receive a 

16          funding reduction of $2.5 million.  And we 

17          would urge you to take a second look at that.  

18          Those, as I said, actually provide operating 

19          support to those institutions, and it's 

20          critically important funding for a lot of 

21          organizations, and it's funding that's hard 

22          to raise, frankly.  

23                 And when the budget is cut, the plants 

24          still need to be maintained, the animals 


                                                                   508

 1          still need to eat, and these facilities are 

 2          critical to not only education in our 

 3          communities but also really important 

 4          environmental research that benefits medical 

 5          and other fields in our society.  So I would 

 6          urge you to take another look at that.  

 7                 Likewise, I did want to note -- and 

 8          I'm looking directly at Assemblyman 

 9          Englebright, because he has been a really 

10          incredible champion, as have a number of you, 

11          for the Land Conservation Program in the 

12          Environmental Protection Fund, which is 

13          slated for another cut.  This used to be a 

14          $60-million-a-year program in the EPF when it 

15          was less than $300 million, and we're now 

16          seeing it cut back again this year.  

17                 So that gives us a lot of pause.  And 

18          there is still a lot of work to do across the 

19          state, certainly in places like Long Island 

20          and the Hudson Valley, where we have heavy 

21          development pressure, but also in other areas 

22          where we're seeing organizations really take 

23          hold through programs like the Land Trust 

24          Alliance Conservation Partnership program, 


                                                                   509

 1          which is strengthening the power of the land 

 2          trust community.  We want to make sure that 

 3          the state program is there and able to do 

 4          partnership programs with communities and 

 5          not-for-profits, then, once those 

 6          organizations are there.

 7                 Moving on, I wanted to thank you also 

 8          for the work you all did to create a 

 9          $2.5 billion Clean Water fund last year.  

10          That was incredible.  New York has a bond act 

11          basically for clean water funding, and it's 

12          incredible work.  And you all added to it.  

13          You went over and above what was in the 

14          initial budget proposal last year, so thank 

15          you.  

16                 We're starting to see that money 

17          already come into communities across the 

18          state for things like upgrading 

19          infrastructure, protecting the sources of our 

20          drinking water supplies.  And just last week 

21          or the week before was an announcement about 

22          a program that will help communities upgrade 

23          septic systems, which are a big problem in a 

24          lot of areas, including the Finger Lakes and 


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 1          Tug Hill and Long Island.  There's a big 

 2          problem there.  It's causing a lot of beach 

 3          closures and red tide and brown tide and just 

 4          really serious conditions for our coastal 

 5          areas.  

 6                 So that's incredible work.  We would 

 7          urge you to keep that funding in the budget 

 8          this year, keep it going.  It's a pretty 

 9          aggressive schedule to try and spend 

10          $2.5 billion in five years, so we urge you 

11          just to keep an eye on that and keep up the 

12          great work.

13                 Another big piece of the budget that 

14          the Nature Conservancy is focused on this 

15          year is a proposal called Empire Forests for 

16          the Future.  This is a very-long-awaited 

17          proposal to amend our forest tax abatement 

18          program.  And this sounds really boring 

19          because it's a forest tax abatement program, 

20          but actually by making some changes to our 

21          tax laws, we can unleash huge conservation 

22          throughout the state.  

23                 Right now, 75 percent of New York 

24          State's forests are actually owned by private 


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 1          land owners.  We always think of places like 

 2          the Adirondacks and Catskills for the 

 3          publicly owned lands like our forest 

 4          preserves, but most of New York's forestlands 

 5          are owned by private owners.  And that's 

 6          great.  

 7                 What we can be doing is improving our 

 8          property tax laws, our property tax abatement 

 9          program, to allow more landowners to enter 

10          into a program that emphasizes sustainable 

11          forest management, broaden out the goals of 

12          this program beyond just timber harvesting to 

13          things like habitat management for wildlife, 

14          which is what the majority of forest owners 

15          are interested in, managing their forests for 

16          climate mitigation.  

17                 So the Nature Conservancy did a global 

18          study recently, last year, and found that 

19          37 percent of the climate mitigation goal -- 

20          we have to hit those Paris goals, those Paris 

21          reduction goals -- can be met through what we 

22          call natural climate solutions.  That means 

23          the way we manage our lands and our waters to 

24          keep carbon in the ground can help us achieve 


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 1          our goals.

 2                 And so this program is another way 

 3          New York can put our forests to work and help 

 4          us achieve climate change goals.  And it's 

 5          not through -- we have heard a lot about, you 

 6          know, renewable energy and windmills and 

 7          solar, which is all great.  This is another 

 8          piece of the solution for climate change in 

 9          New York State.  

10                 And it also -- this initiative would 

11          help fill the tax shift that exists right now 

12          from the current program by reimbursing from 

13          the state communities who experience a tax 

14          shift of 1 percent or more from program 

15          enrollment of those property owners who are 

16          enrolling.  So there's a lot of great 

17          advantages to this.  There's a lot more 

18          information in my testimony.

19                 And then the last thing I'll hit 

20          really quickly is there is a proposal to 

21          change the way New York State pays ad valorem 

22          tax payments on land that it owns throughout 

23          the state.  There's a lot of attention being 

24          paid to this right now in places like the 


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 1          Adirondacks and Catskills, but again, this 

 2          would be a statewide change, changing from 

 3          the right of local assessors to tax those 

 4          lands and assess those lands to a PILOT 

 5          payment.  

 6                 We have deep concerns about this, and 

 7          we would ask you to take a hard look at that 

 8          and perhaps not include it in your budget 

 9          responses.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

11          much.

12                 MS. MAHAR:  Thank you.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We appreciate you 

14          being here today.

15                 MS. MAHAR:  Thanks.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  From Audubon 

17          New York, we have Conservation Director 

18          Michael Burger.

19                 Welcome.

20                 MR. BURGER:  Thank you.  Good evening, 

21          everyone.  I appreciate the opportunity to 

22          offer testimony from Audubon on the budget 

23          proposal.

24                 I am Mike Burger, the conservation and 


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 1          science director for Audubon New York, which 

 2          is a state program of the National Audubon 

 3          Society.  In New York our network includes 

 4          50,000 members.  We have 27 local chapters, 

 5          and we have seven nature centers scattered 

 6          across the state.  Our mission is to protect 

 7          birds and their habitats based on science, 

 8          education, advocacy, and on-the-ground 

 9          conservation.

10                 Regarding the 2018-2019 Executive 

11          Budget proposal, I do have five things I 

12          would ask you to consider.  The first is to 

13          dedicate $300 million to the EPF and restore 

14          the ZBGA funding, which you heard about a 

15          couple of times today.  

16                 The Environmental Protection Fund has 

17          proven to be a stable source of funding, 

18          essential for environmental programs in 

19          robust and challenging economic conditions, 

20          and an appropriation of $300 million for the 

21          EPF for this fiscal year will help New York 

22          meet its five-year capital improvement plans, 

23          and that's something that -- maintaining that 

24          level -- that we would ask you to do in the 


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 1          enacted budget.

 2                 Within the EPF we urge the Legislature 

 3          to restore proposed cuts by the Governor of 

 4          $2.5 million to the Zoos, Botanical Gardens, 

 5          and Aquaria program and restore that to last 

 6          year's funding level, which was $15 million.  

 7          The proposed funding cut would reduce the 

 8          services that can be provided by 

 9          organizations that operate living museums, 

10          and that would include three educational 

11          centers operated by Audubon:  The Montezuma 

12          Audubon Center in Savannah, the Constitution 

13          Marsh Audubon Center in Oyster Bay, and -- 

14          I'm sorry, in Cold Spring -- and the Theodore 

15          Roosevelt Center in Oyster Bay.  I noticed 

16          somebody actually caught that slip.  

17                 The second thing I would ask is that 

18          you establish the Empire Forest for the 

19          Future Initiative.  As you just heard, 

20          75 percent of the forests in New York are 

21          privately owned.  What that means is the 

22          actions of private forest owners will largely 

23          determine the health, the diversity, and the 

24          resiliency of our forests as well as the 


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 1          public benefits that those forests provide to 

 2          all of us.  

 3                 So a very high priority for Audubon is 

 4          the Empire Forest for the Future Initiative.  

 5          It's a proposal in the Executive Budget that 

 6          includes modifications to the current Forest 

 7          Tax Law, and it creates a new 480-b program 

 8          that will broaden the types of lands that are 

 9          eligible for tax incentives.  It provides 

10          grants to help local governments and 

11          nonprofits acquire and manage community 

12          forests, and it provides grants to help 

13          private forest owners implement best 

14          management practices that improve forest 

15          health and diversity and habitat for 

16          wildlife.  

17                 Audubon is part of a diverse coalition 

18          of 24 environmental conservation business and 

19          forestry organizations that urges the Senate 

20          and the Assembly to support this proposal and 

21          include it in the enacted state budget.

22                 The third thing I would ask you to 

23          consider is to support capital investments in 

24          New York's historic places and outdoors.  We 


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 1          strongly support Governor Cuomo's budget 

 2          proposal to continue significant capital 

 3          improvements to our world-class state parks, 

 4          our wildlife management areas, and the 

 5          Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves.  

 6                 The state's sustained attention to 

 7          preserving and enhancing our historic and 

 8          green spaces not only helps connect people 

 9          with New York's cultural and natural 

10          histories and resources, but also strengthens 

11          local economies and creates jobs.  Each of 

12          these environmental capital investments will 

13          pay dividends for New York State.  

14                 The fourth thing I would ask you to 

15          consider is to continue funding for the 

16          Clean Water Infrastructure Act.  As you know, 

17          few issues are as important to our health, 

18          our economy, and our environment as clean 

19          water.  Access to clean water is also 

20          essential for the survival of wildlife, and 

21          New York's clean waterways provide the 

22          foundation for healthy ecosystems.  

23                 We are pleased that the Executive 

24          Budget proposes to continue the state's 


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 1          $2.5 billion investment in clean water 

 2          pursuant to the Clean Water Infrastructure 

 3          Act of 2017, for which we thank you.  This 

 4          funding makes an enormous difference to 

 5          communities that lack the resources to make 

 6          these investments independently.  And the 

 7          support for clean water infrastructure is 

 8          critical to protecting public health as well 

 9          as the environment.

10                 The last thing I would ask you to 

11          consider is to protect the Washington County 

12          grasslands.  Washington County contains the 

13          last remaining large grasslands in eastern 

14          New York, and this place provides habitat for 

15          a number of threatened and endangered bird 

16          species.  To protect this area, the state has 

17          already acquired 286 acres of critical 

18          habitat.  It is hoping to preserve and 

19          protect additional areas.

20                 We strongly support the state's 

21          efforts to protect these grasslands.  

22          However, we also believe that conservation 

23          efforts are most successful when they have 

24          the support of any affected communities.  


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 1          Audubon believes that it's important for the 

 2          state to pay reasonable property taxes on 

 3          land that is put into conservation status in 

 4          the towns of Argyle, Fort Edward, and 

 5          Kingsbury.  

 6                 Accordingly, we urge the Legislature 

 7          to include language in their budget bills to 

 8          authorize the state payment of property taxes 

 9          on state-owned lands in these towns as is 

10          otherwise proposed in A6759, sponsored by 

11          Assemblyman Woerner, and S1672, sponsored by 

12          Senator Little, and to provide an 

13          appropriation of funds to make those 

14          payments.  

15                 Thank you again for allowing me to 

16          testify.  My contact information is in the 

17          written testimony I provided.  If you have 

18          any additional questions, please contact me.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

20          Mr. Burger.  We appreciate you being here 

21          today.

22                 Our next speaker is from the 

23          Long Island Farm Bureau, and that's Robert 

24          Carpenter, who is the administrative 


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 1          director.  Welcome.

 2                 MR. CARPENTER:  Thank you for having 

 3          me.  I've been sitting since 1 o'clock, 

 4          watching, and I have to applaud all of you 

 5          for your dedication for staying here and 

 6          asking very, very pointed and very 

 7          informative questions.  I salute your 

 8          dedication.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

10                 MR. CARPENTER:  My name is Robert 

11          Carpenter, administrative director of 

12          Long Island Farm Bureau.  We're a membership 

13          association that represents agriculture on 

14          Long Island.  

15                 I'm here today to respectfully request 

16          that you include the attached legislation in 

17          your one-house budgets to ensure that 

18          buildings and structures for bona fide 

19          agricultural production are permitted on 

20          privately owned farmland when the 

21          municipality acquires farmland development 

22          rights.  

23                 In the early 1970s, Long Island was 

24          rapidly facing a conversion of farmland to 


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 1          housing due to suburban sprawl.  Suffolk 

 2          County Executive John Klein worked with the 

 3          farm community to develop the first farmland 

 4          preservation program in the United States.  

 5          The basic premise is that farmers who wanted 

 6          to preserve their farmland would sell to a 

 7          municipality a portion of their rights, in 

 8          this case the right to develop their land for 

 9          houses, and in return the municipality would 

10          place a restriction on that land to be 

11          utilized for farming purposes.

12                 This unique program is truly a 

13          public-private partnership where farmers own 

14          and maintain the land while the municipality 

15          owns a specific right.  The intent of this 

16          program was to keep working lands available 

17          to farmers and preserve farmland for future 

18          generations.  Please let me be clear.  The 

19          farmland preservation program is not intended 

20          to be an open space program but a working 

21          lands program.  

22                 Farmers never agreed to open space 

23          provisions when they sold rights, nor did 

24          they give the municipality or anyone else the 


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 1          right to determine what happens on that land 

 2          other than what is in their contract.

 3                 Long Island's farm land preservation 

 4          program has worked extremely well over the 

 5          number of years, preserving 20,000 acres.  

 6          But the very existence of our program is now 

 7          being threatened by a decision of Justice 

 8          Whelan in September of 2016, whose 

 9          interpretation of GML247 viewed Suffolk 

10          County's TDR program as an open lands program 

11          and ruled the county could not permit 

12          buildings and structures in this program.  

13                 Today's agriculture requires 

14          infrastructure such as barns to house 

15          equipment or animals, which in some cases is 

16          required by law.  New food safety regulations 

17          will require measures to ensure our food is 

18          safe, which means structures such as washing 

19          stations or refrigeration units.  Greenhouse 

20          production is also a form of agriculture, and 

21          many farmers are considering growing their 

22          food year-round in greenhouses.  Fences, 

23          irrigation wells, trellises, and other means 

24          of farm production are considered structures 


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 1          by code, so this decision could essentially 

 2          render agriculture powerless to farm on 

 3          preserved land.

 4                 Additionally, the uncertainty of what 

 5          farmers will and will not be able to do with 

 6          their land in the future will prevent further 

 7          preservation.  This legislation, if passed, 

 8          will provide the necessary surety to farmers 

 9          so they know they will be able to continue 

10          their farm operations.  Currently this 

11          decision is being appealed, but we ask you to 

12          ensure the future of our program today by 

13          including this legislation in the budget.  

14          Respectfully, our farming industry is too 

15          important to leave to a decision of 

16          non-farming judges.

17                 Long Island's agricultural industry is 

18          one of the top agricultural producing areas 

19          of New York State, with almost 40,000 acres 

20          in production and $240 million annually in 

21          sales.  Agriculture remains an economic and 

22          social benefit to the region.  

23                 However, with increased costs of 

24          production, new regulations, and pressure 


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 1          from outside sources, we are at a crossroads.  

 2          This decision could undo 40 years of effort 

 3          by many individuals who have worked 

 4          tirelessly to preserve our industry.  

 5                 New York routinely supports 

 6          agriculture in the state budget to the tune 

 7          of hundreds of millions of dollars for 

 8          economic, environmental protections, 

 9          promotion of agriculture, and funding for our 

10          colleges for research and education.  We have 

11          many partners that are in support of us and 

12          our efforts:  Peconic Land Trust, the League 

13          of Conservation Voters -- who I believe will 

14          be here later -- American Farmland Trust, the 

15          Wine Council, Farm Credit, in addition to 

16          Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and 

17          the Suffolk County Legislature.

18                 Long Island remains the mecca of 

19          current happenings, and what happens today 

20          will make its way through the rest of 

21          New York State.  We ask that you add this 

22          attached language into the budget to ensure 

23          that structures and buildings used for 

24          farming will be allowed in General Municipal 


                                                                   525

 1          Law 247.

 2                 Thank you.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  We have 

 4          a question.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

 6          Englebright.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  I just want 

 8          to say thank you for your very genteel way of 

 9          asking us to help solve a problem that is 

10          dividing two of the most important 

11          constituencies on Long Island, which are the 

12          farming community and the natural resource 

13          community.  

14                 And we're clearly interested in 

15          helping to resolve what, if left going in the 

16          direction it's going, will leave a permanent 

17          scar in the environmental advocate community.

18                 So thank you for asking us to help 

19          today.  We're hoping to explore the issues 

20          that you've raised and hopefully find a 

21          solution.

22                 MR. CARPENTER:  Thank you.  With about 

23          20,000 acres left to still preserve, we feel 

24          this is a very important and critical issue 


                                                                   526

 1          for us.  And I remain willing to work with 

 2          you and hope that you'll be willing to work 

 3          with us and support us.  So thank you very 

 4          much.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN ENGLEBRIGHT:  Thank you 

 6          for your testimony.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 9                 Assemblyman Thiele.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Yes, Rob, thank 

11          you for first of all making the long journey 

12          from Long Island, and second of all for your 

13          patience in waiting to testify today.

14                 Section 247 of the General Municipal 

15          Law has an interesting history.  It actually 

16          was enacted back in 1976, because back in 

17          1976 the idea that government would spend 

18          money to buy land and then do nothing with it 

19          and let it just sit there was an issue of:  

20          What was the public purpose of doing that, 

21          you were just buying it and leaving it alone.  

22                 So the Legislature actually had to put 

23          a provision in there that that was a 

24          legitimate public purpose.  And they also had 


                                                                   527

 1          the provision in there that they wanted to 

 2          make sure that agricultural lands were part 

 3          of that, not just for open space preservation 

 4          purposes, but also to provide for a 

 5          sustainable agricultural future for the 

 6          state.

 7                 And as you know and as you said, you 

 8          know, Suffolk County was the first county in 

 9          the nation to utilize those provisions to buy 

10          the development rights to farmland so that in 

11          the competition between development and 

12          agriculture, it was a fair fight.  This 

13          program allows agricultural lands to be 

14          devoted for agriculture without having to 

15          fight for what is very expensive land now on 

16          Long Island as far as development.  

17                 And that program went forward for 

18          40 years with the full understanding of what 

19          the program was, what the intent was, which 

20          was to keep the vistas in the land open and 

21          to allow the land to continue to be farmed.  

22          And this decision that you've referred to has 

23          kind of been kind of the aberration away from 

24          that.


                                                                   528

 1                 My question for you -- well, a couple 

 2          of questions.  One is the proposal that 

 3          you're looking at -- what happened in Suffolk 

 4          County obviously could happen anywhere, so 

 5          the proposal is a statewide proposal.  Is 

 6          that correct?

 7                 MR. CARPENTER:  That is correct.  We 

 8          would like to see this go so that every 

 9          farmer in the New York State area that has 

10          preserved land ultimately will be protected 

11          by this.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  All right.  

13                 And secondly, while you know I don't 

14          like to pit conservation and agriculture 

15          against each other, they've been allies so 

16          many times through the years, but as I 

17          understand it -- we'll be hearing from them 

18          later, but the New York State League of 

19          Conservation Voters also supports this 

20          proposal, don't they?

21                 MR. CARPENTER:  That is correct.  I'll 

22          let Patrick speak to that, but I believe they 

23          did sign on to an amicus brief or friend of 

24          the court brief that a number of us submitted 


                                                                   529

 1          to the court to voice our concerns about 

 2          Judge Whelan's decision.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  And my last 

 4          question is on the ground, literally and 

 5          figuratively.  What impact has this had on 

 6          the operation of the program, both for 

 7          farmers that are already in the program as 

 8          well as trying to attract new farmers and 

 9          farmland to participate in the program in the 

10          future?

11                 MR. CARPENTER:  So from the county 

12          perspective, I don't believe that there's 

13          been very many people that have expressed 

14          interest to preserve farmland both within the 

15          county and the town programs.  Which is very 

16          unfortunate, because both do have funding 

17          available to purchase farmland.  

18                 From anecdotal evidence in talking to 

19          the farmers in the community, they're very 

20          concerned, both if they're in the program, 

21          about what they can do with their operations, 

22          or, if their land is not preserved, saying, 

23          you know, I'm really thinking -- I don't know 

24          if I want to enter this program to preserve 


                                                                   530

 1          my farm because there's so much uncertainty 

 2          about where the program is going and what I'm 

 3          going to be able to do in the future.  

 4                 Which, if I channel back to John Klein 

 5          in the '70s, was the exact opposite of what 

 6          he intended.  His intent, I believe, was to 

 7          preserve the land so that farmers would have 

 8          the ability to farm and do what they need to 

 9          do in order to survive and to help feed the 

10          millions of residents of Long Island, both 

11          here and the 8 million in New York City as 

12          well.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN THIELE:  Okay.  And 

14          finally, I just want to thank Assemblyman 

15          Englebright, certainly as the chairman of the 

16          Environmental Conservation Committee, for his 

17          remarks tonight and his willingness to try to 

18          work through this as we go through the budget 

19          process to try to find a solution that 

20          certainly will serve the program well into 

21          the future.  Thank you.

22                 MR. CARPENTER:  Very good.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I guess 

24          we're all set.  Thank you for coming all this 


                                                                   531

 1          way.

 2                 MR. CARPENTER:  Thank you very much, 

 3          and thank you all for your support.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 5                 Our next group of speakers is a panel 

 6          from the Police Benevolent Association of 

 7          New York State.  And that's Drew Cavanagh, 

 8          Forest Ranger captain, Jason DeAngelis, vice 

 9          president, and Arthur Perryman, New York 

10          State Forest Ranger director.  I'm missing 

11          one.  Oh, no, I'm not.  

12                 Okay.  Welcome.

13                 MR. CAVANAGH:  Thank you, and good 

14          evening.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You've got some 

16          lengthy testimony here today, so if you could 

17          summarize.

18                 MR. CAVANAGH:  We are going to do our 

19          best to abbreviate our testimony and hit the 

20          highlights.

21                 MR. DeANGELIS:  We'll summarize.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

23                 MR. DeANGELIS:  Absolutely.

24                 MR. CAVANAGH:  My name is Drew 


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 1          Cavanagh.  I'm here in my capacity as the 

 2          director of the Forest Rangers Superior 

 3          Officers Association of the PBA of New York 

 4          State.  To my left is Art Perryman; he's here 

 5          in his capacity as the director of the Forest 

 6          Ranger Association of the PBA.  And to my 

 7          right is Jason DeAngelis; he's here in his 

 8          capacity as the director of the Environmental 

 9          Conservation Officers Association of the PBA.

10                 Again, I'll try to be brief.  I have 

11          been a Forest Ranger for 25 years.  I'm  

12          currently the Forest Ranger captain assigned 

13          to DEC Region 6.  My testimony today is 

14          really about our staffing situation.  

15                 The DEC administers approximately 

16          5 million acres of public land, and we have 

17          137 Forest Rangers.  Half a century ago, in 

18          1970, we had 3.5 million acres of public land 

19          and we had 140 Forest Rangers.  So our 

20          staffing is at best stagnant, and we've 

21          accumulated an additional 1.5 million acres 

22          of public land that we need to protect and 

23          patrol.  That's a problem for us.

24                 In addition to that, as I like to put 


                                                                   533

 1          it -- the good news is the public has 

 2          discovered public lands and the forest 

 3          preserve.  The bad news is the public has 

 4          discovered public lands and the Forest 

 5          Preserve.  We have a lot more use, but we 

 6          don't have a lot more people out there to 

 7          protect the public and to protect the 

 8          resource.  Again, that is a problem for us.

 9                 My written testimony goes into a great 

10          degree, you know, extent about comparisons 

11          with national, you know, on a national scale, 

12          the number of forest rangers they have for 

13          Yellowstone and for all the national parks.  

14          And we're well under half of the staffing for 

15          what they do, and I'll allow you to just read 

16          that, if you will.

17                 I did want to put up what we're 

18          looking for is 175 Forest Rangers.  That's an 

19          appropriate number of staffing force that 

20          would reduce the number of acres of land that 

21          a forest ranger has to patrol from over 

22          40,000 acres to about 28,000 acres, which is 

23          much more -- it's much more manageable and 

24          possible.  It allows us to do our job and not 


                                                                   534

 1          wreck people with overtime and overwork and 

 2          unsafe -- what we know is basically we're 

 3          putting them out when they're way too tired 

 4          to do their jobs.  That's what we're looking 

 5          for.  

 6                 I do have to thank Assemblyman 

 7          Englebright, the chair of the EnCon 

 8          Committee, and Senator Funke, chair of the 

 9          Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and 

10          Recreation Committee, both of whom have 

11          acknowledged this, that we need more Forest 

12          Rangers, and have both written the Governor 

13          and asked for an increase in Forest Ranger 

14          staffing.  And we urge the Legislature to 

15          take action and increase Forest Ranger 

16          staffing.  

17                 I also want to mention A1459, 

18          Assemblywoman Jenne's bill, with Senator 

19          Funke, S3987.  It's an act to amend the 

20          Environmental Conservation Law in relation to 

21          protecting newly acquired state lands.  This 

22          bill would mandate that another Forest Ranger 

23          would be hired for every additional 

24          30,000 acres of land that was acquired.  And 


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 1          we just -- it would just give us breathing 

 2          space so we could at least continue to do our 

 3          job. 

 4                 And that's it, I'll stop there.  And I 

 5          will defer to Art Perryman.

 6                 MR. PERRYMAN:  Thank you.  I want to 

 7          just focus on search-and-rescue missions, and 

 8          I'm going to abbreviate.  

 9                 New York State Forest Rangers are now 

10          conducting nearly one search-and-rescue 

11          operation for every day in the year.  Some of 

12          these are lasting a few hours, and some a few 

13          weeks.  

14                 You may have heard in September of 

15          2017 of the search for a hiker on Wallface 

16          Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness.  

17          Searchers needed to be lowered from 

18          helicopters, use chainsaws, stay interior for 

19          days at a time, set up communication relays, 

20          manage multiple resources, and use advanced 

21          land navigation.  This was all done in 

22          extreme terrain.  In short, it was a job for 

23          Forest Rangers and Forest Rangers only. 

24                 We responded to 19 other 


                                                                   536

 1          search-and-rescue missions during that time.  

 2          In fact, some rangers had to leave the search 

 3          to respond to these other missions.  Alex 

 4          died during the search effort, and I believe 

 5          this outcome would have been different if we 

 6          had more Forest Rangers.

 7                 Even recently in the winter months, 

 8          the Forest Rangers have been busy.  During 

 9          the past month we responded to 

10          search-and-rescue missions across the state 

11          in really extreme conditions.  

12                 Most of you were sitting down to enjoy 

13          the Super Bowl when a team of 37 rangers, 

14          six climbers, and six firemen were 30 hours 

15          into a rescue effort for a climber in the 

16          High Peaks Wilderness, one of the most remote 

17          locations there is.  Forest Rangers battled 

18          50-mile-per-hour winds and temperatures in 

19          the single digits.  During this rescue, some 

20          of my fellow Forest Rangers suffered 

21          fractured bones, hypothermia, and frostbite 

22          to bring this hiker to safety.  

23                 Two days later, many of the same 

24          Forest Rangers were working night and day on 


                                                                   537

 1          Whiteface Mountain for another search for a 

 2          missing skier that you may have read about.

 3                 Over this past week, rangers were 

 4          called upon again to conduct a search in 

 5          Thatcher State Park right here in Albany 

 6          County.  

 7                 We've met with many of you to explain 

 8          these critical issues.  We know you all 

 9          believe the people in New York State deserve 

10          the very best.  They deserve a ranger force 

11          of sufficient size that spends its days in 

12          the wildland ceaselessly training in every 

13          discipline of search and rescue and large 

14          incident management.  

15                 We have made it our career and our 

16          calling to help people in their hour of need, 

17          and today we're asking for your help.  Please 

18          give us the staffing and funding to carry out 

19          the mission.  The time for decisive action is 

20          now.  Thank you.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

22                 MR. DeANGELIS:  I'm Jason DeAngelis.  

23          I'm the vice president of the union.  I've 

24          been a Conservation Officer for 15 years, and 


                                                                   538

 1          a former New York City police officer for 

 2          three.

 3                 So I'm going to talk about the 3/4 

 4          disability bill:  S5594B, Golden, and A7600B, 

 5          Abbate.  Some of our members do have the 

 6          3/4 disability, and some do not.  That is a 

 7          huge disparity.  

 8                 Last year, November -- I'm sorry, 

 9          November 29, 2016, Officer James Davey was 

10          shot in a field in Columbia County where he 

11          suffered a very significant shot in the 

12          pelvis with a high-caliber rifle, shattering 

13          his pelvis and severing his femoral artery 

14          almost completely.  

15                 He is not afforded a viable 

16          retirement, and he worked tirelessly to come 

17          back to work because he did not have a viable 

18          retirement.  Okay?  He was very fastidious in 

19          his dedication to his rehabilitation.  

20                 This is a bad fit, this 3/4 

21          disability.  We face all the same dangers 

22          that any other police officer in New York 

23          State faces, okay?  And we do not have this 

24          3/4 disability, as well as the Park Police, 


                                                                   539

 1          also in our unit.

 2                 We would like it to also become 

 3          statute for the other members of the unit, 

 4          the 1250 members.  This is at a cost of -- a 

 5          $2.78 million annual cost to New York State 

 6          for th