Farmers, Agribusinesses Would Qualify For Cheaper Energy Under Winner's Legislation

George Winner

April 11, 2005

Albany, N.Y.– Family farms and smaller agribusinesses in New York State would become eligible for lower-cost electricity through New York State’s successful "Power for Jobs" program under legislation proposed by State Senate George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira).

"A significant segment of our state’s largest industry is forgotten under the ‘Power for Jobs’ program. This program could help some struggling family farms and smaller agribusinesses stay in business. Allowing agricultural operations to qualify for low-cost power could help create jobs and expand economic opportunities in rural communities throughout the Southern Tier-Finger Lakes region, and across New York State," said Winner, who currently serves on the Senate’s agriculture and energy committees. "This legislation could particularly benefit the energy-intensive dairy industry."

The Power for Jobs program was created by the state Legislature and Governor George Pataki in 1997 to provide 400 megawatts (mw) of low-cost electricity to state businesses and not-for-profit corporations, in exchange for them keeping or creating new jobs in New York.

Over 700 large and small businesses have taken advantage of the program over the past eight years. The New York Power Authority, which administers Power for Jobs, estimates that employers have received a 10-to-25 percent savings on electricity bills. More than 300,000 jobs statewide are linked to the program.

Winner said that smaller family farms and agribusinesses have been overlooked in the Power for Jobs program. His legislation would identify a "farm or agricultural enterprise" as a specific category of small business eligible to apply for Power for Jobs benefits by demonstrating that low-cost energy could help them stem job losses and, ultimately, create economic opportunities in their communities.

"This represents another way for us to try to shore up our smaller dairy operations, family farms and agribusinesses. These operations are the foundation of many local economies," Winner said.

The legislation is currently in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, and in the Economic Development Committee in the Assembly. It’s sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman William Magee (D-1, Oneida), chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.