May 15, 2012

 ALBANY – Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I – Olean) announced legislation (S.7391) that would prohibit any electric corporation seeking to build or expand an electric facility or transmission line with that maintains a starting point outside the United States and an end point within New York State from using the power of eminent domain.

During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Senator Young joined Energy Committee Chairman George Maziarz and other fellow state Senators, power generators, and business groups to highlight the negative impacts of the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express Transmission Line (CHPE), a 1,000 MW underwater transmission line that would originate in Canada and end in New York City.

While the developers of the project say that it will be funded through private investments, there is a little noticed clause in the proposal before the Public Service Commission that could push some of the costs onto ratepayers, causing already high utility bills to go up.

“We already have power producers in our state. This Canadian transmission line would kill existing New York jobs, put power generators out of business and devastate the tax base in our communities that depend on having these plants operating,” Senator Young said.

“Right now, I am fighting to save the NRG clean coal facility in Dunkirk. Our goal is to pass legislation, in addition to this bill, by establishing a purchase power agreement with the New York Power Authority to supply electricity to the state’s ReCharge NY to grow jobs,” she added.

“NRG and smaller plants such as Indeck in Olean need to be protected from threats posted by this Canadian transmission line,” she said.

“We need jobs and investment in our state, instead of giving away our economic benefits to a foreign country,” Senator Young said.

Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, said, "Our members have raised both economic and technical issues with the proposal. The state’s electric grid connects New York communities that generate electricity with New York communities that consume electricity. Communities from around the state have benefited directly and indirectly through the purchase of in-state power, and projects that could jeopardize this relationship should be carefully examined. The Business Council supports the Senators’ devotion to improving the reliability of the state's energy systems and reducing the cost of energy for consumers..”

Michael Malek, Business Manager and Chairman of  NYS IBEW Utility Council, added, “The NYS IBEW Utility Council represents over 15,000 NYS Utility workers   “Currently, many power plants within NYS are struggling to stay in business – in part – due to an aged inadequate NYS transmission system that denies them the valuable NY City market.  When we learned of a plan by a Canadian developer to run a 1000 MW extension cord from NY City to Quebec that denies all NYS power generators a chance to compete and threatens the ability to finance our own desperately needed in state transmission upgrades, we began a call for action and voiced our opposition.” 

Jerry Kremer, former chairman of the New York Assembly Ways and Means Committee and chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance said, “This bill is both reasonable and makes compelling sense.  Importing large amounts of Canadian electricity means higher prices, lost jobs, lost tax dollars, and eventual turmoil for our electric grid.  Our focus should be on attracting billions of dollars for large, long-term capital investments in New York – investments which will create jobs, opportunity and build infrastructure that helps ensure economic growth.”

If adopted this legislation would effectively prevent this project or others like it from moving forward. S7391, which is currently pending in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, has seventeen bi-partisan co-sponsors.