Article

Tug of war ensues over utility-fee spending - Lawmakers want control over $200M fund set for energy-efficiency plans

ALBANY -- Some $200 million in utility surcharges slated for alternative-power plants and energy-efficiency projects is caught in a power struggle between Gov. George Pataki and the Legislature.

Lawmakers argue the money is a tax they should have a role in dispensing. Environmentalists and power plant operators agree the money should stay under the governor's control.

At stake are proceeds from two fees on New Yorkers' utility bills. The money is distributed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

System Benefit Charge and Renewable Portfolio Standard fees amount to a couple dollars a month for most people. The SBC raises about $175 million and funds things such as promotions of high efficiency appliances and home energy audits. The RPS generates about $25 million - slated to grow to $167 million by 2013 - which NYSERDA gives to companies trying to develop new forms of energy production such as wind or solar power.

Robert Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates, called the funds "the bedrock funding for New York's clean energy program."

Moore said the environmental community believes the money has been well spent by NYSERDA, with proceeds helping to jump-start such projects like a wind turbine complex on the Tug Hill plateau.

Key lawmakers say they would still use the money for energy efficiency, but they want to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Lawmakers argue the money is a tax they should have a role in dispensing. Environmentalists and power plant operators agree the money should stay under the governor's control.
 
At stake are proceeds from two fees on New Yorkers' utility bills. The money is distributed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
 
System Benefit Charge and Renewable Portfolio Standard fees amount to a couple dollars a month for most people. The SBC raises about $175 million and funds things such as promotions of high efficiency appliances and home energy audits. The RPS generates about $25 million - slated to grow to $167 million by 2013 - which NYSERDA gives to companies trying to develop new forms of energy production such as wind or solar power.
 
Robert Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates, called the funds "the bedrock funding for New York's clean energy program."
 
Moore said the environmental community believes the money has been well spent by NYSERDA, with proceeds helping to jump-start such projects like a wind turbine complex on the Tug Hill plateau.
 
Key lawmakers say they would still use the money for energy efficiency, but they want to control precisely how it's spent.
 
"We're not about raiding the funds," said Assemblyman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who heads the Energy Committee. But with waiting lists for government-funded home weatherization projects and schools that need better insulation, lawmakers want more of a say on priorities, he said.
 
Last year, lawmakers tried to move the money into the general fund but Pataki vetoed it. This year, though, insiders expect the move will stick. Republican senators, some speculate, would be more inclined to override Pataki's veto because they believe Democratic Attorney General Eliot Spitzer could become the next governor, which would leave them little or no influence in how the money is spent.
 
Power producers are worried, too. The RPS fund provides seed money for companies that are planning new energy projects like wind turbines or hydro plants, said Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of Independent Power Producers of New York, a trade group of electricity generators.
 
Rick Karlin can be reached at 454-5758 or by e-mail at rkarlin@timesunion.com.


Source: http://timesunion.com/AspSt...

MAR 25 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1978-tug-of-war-ensues-over-utility-fee-spending-lawmakers-want-control-over-200m-fund-set-for-energy-efficiency-plans
back to top