The executive order issued last week by Gov. David Paterson to create a comprehensive state energy plan is long overdue and needs input from all localities so that the resulting policy doesn’t pit one part of the state against another.
Instead, the resulting plan should carefully assess the state’s future energy needs and determine the best way to meet those needs with the least negative impact on the people.
Paterson ordered the establishment of a state energy planning board to work on such a plan, which has been lacking since the old policy expired Jan. 1, 2003. The policy was restructured in 1998, when utilities were required to sell off their generation facilities and a wholesale competitive market for electricity was created. Prior to that, investor-owned utilities had owned electricity generation plants and transmission lines and distributed energy to customers.
The state has been without an official energy policy since one expired Jan. 1, 2003. The lack of policy is one reason why some upstate communities now face a threat from the power line being proposed by New York Regional Interconnect. The proposed 1,200-megawatt line would run from Marcy to Orange County and would cut through the very heart of this region.
Paul DeCotis, state Deputy Secretary for Energy and the chairman of the new planning board, said any future policy would not have a direct effect on NYRI’s proposal, which already has been filed with the state Public Service Commission. Mike Steiger of the NYRI opposition group Upstate New York Citizens Alliance believes the PSC will deny the application, which he says is flawed. Steiger says an energy policy will provide a plan so that another NYRI doesn’t come along after this.
But there is no denying that state power needs are changing. New York can’t afford a piece-meal policy, and upstate residents can’t afford to fight one power line at a time.
Having a firm policy can focus on future energy needs and make sure steps taken to address those needs are fair to all the people of the state.