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Veto freshens wind-power clash - Pataki move blocks takeover of 'renewables' fund

ALBANY — Among his 202 budget vetoes, Gov. George Pataki blocked a move by the Legislature to take control of grant money earmarked to spur renewable energy projects around the state.

They fear that if the Legislature takes control of the approximately $20 million fund, the money could become lost in the budget shuffle — becoming just another fund for "pork-barrel" projects — and companies would be scared away from investing in the state.

"If a developer sees that if the state would annually appropriate money, there's no guarantee that the money would be there," said Peter Mandelstam, president of Blue Water Wind, a company that has built renewable energy projects in several states. "It would kill all renewable development in New York state."

Legislators contend that their oversight would bring more openness to the way the money is spent.

At issue is a state plan that 25 percent of electricity sales be from renewable sources by 2013 — and control of the money to promote the change.

Currently, about 19 percent of electricity sales come from renewables, mostly hydropower. Less than 2 percent of New York's energy currently comes from wind farms.

The money for renewable-energy grants comes from a fraction of New Yorkers' energy bills, which legislators call a "hidden tax" on consumers. Currently, the money is administered by the New York... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
They fear that if the Legislature takes control of the approximately $20 million fund, the money could become lost in the budget shuffle — becoming just another fund for "pork-barrel" projects — and companies would be scared away from investing in the state.

"If a developer sees that if the state would annually appropriate money, there's no guarantee that the money would be there," said Peter Mandelstam, president of Blue Water Wind, a company that has built renewable energy projects in several states. "It would kill all renewable development in New York state."

Legislators contend that their oversight would bring more openness to the way the money is spent.

At issue is a state plan that 25 percent of electricity sales be from renewable sources by 2013 — and control of the money to promote the change.

Currently, about 19 percent of electricity sales come from renewables, mostly hydropower. Less than 2 percent of New York's energy currently comes from wind farms.

The money for renewable-energy grants comes from a fraction of New Yorkers' energy bills, which legislators call a "hidden tax" on consumers. Currently, the money is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, a quasi-independent agency that evaluates renewable-energy projects.

In his veto message, Pataki said that he is "concerned that introducing his programs into the state budget process would result in a significantly reduced level of transparency and certainty."

Additionally, Pataki said that move by the Legislature was an unconstitutional rewrite of his original budget plan and not subject to an override.

But lawmakers argue that not allowing the Legislature to approve spending measures is a blow to open government and transparency.

"It's a veto against good government," said Assembly Energy Committee Chairman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, Montgomery County.

He also said that developers' criticisms were self-serving.

"If you're so convinced that your project is the right thing to do and has an effective energy outcome then what's the problem?" he said.

Meanwhile, environmentalists, who usually do not agree with developers, have applauded the veto.

"Builders and environmentalists say don't mess with these programs," said Katherine Kennedy of the Natural Resources Defense Council.



Source: http://www.democratandchron...

APR 15 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2157-veto-freshens-wind-power-clash-pataki-move-blocks-takeover-of-renewables-fund
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