Recap of City & State’s “On Energy” Forum (Updated)

Posted: August 27, 2014

On Wednesday, August 27, 2014 New York AREA chairman Arthur “Jerry” Kremer participated in an important discussion on New York’s energy future as part of the 4th annual City & State “On Energy” forum.

Many New York AREA members were in attendance with representatives from the following organizations: Liberty Natural Gas, Con Edison, Insulators Local 12, Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, BALCONY, and forum co-sponsor Entergy. Chairman Kremer’s daughter, Katherine, also joined to see her dad defend rational, sensible energy policies to power New York.

08-27-14 On Energy Forum 1

The panel was titled, “Technology & Innovation in New York’s Energy System.” The moderator was Jon Lentz and panelists included:

  • Christopher Cavanagh, Principal Program Manager, Customer Strategy and Environmental, National Grid
  • Anthony Fiore, Director of the Office of Energy, NYC Department of Environmental Protection
  • Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner, NYC Department of Sanitation
    Robert Schimmenti, VP for Engineering and Planning, Con Edison
  • Arthur “Jerry” Kremer, Chairman, New York AREA

The group examined the success and failures of New York’s energy programs and policies and its impact on the energy industry. It also covered current and future energy sources –such as natural gas, wind, solar, waste-to-energy, etc. – with a focus on viability and reliability.

Chairman Kremer said, “New York needs a ‘Manhattan Project’ to tie viable projects into one big picture to bridge to the future.” He added, “We will not get there if we do not hold onto what we have. Indian Point provides 2,000 megawatts and I’ve heard every configuration to add up to 2,000 MW and it has not happened yet. […] As of now, we cannot get to the future without our existing energy infrastructure so we need to protect it.

A question was raised about Champlain Hudson Power Express by a regional power plant contractor, who asked, “What is the logic behind exporting domestic energy jobs and billions of New York ratepayer’s cash to Canada?” Con Edison stated that they were “agnostic” about the project. Chairman Kremer said, “CHPE is bad for New York.” He went on to question the benefit of being “at the mercy of a foreign country” and declared New York AREA will continue to oppose the ill-advised project.

Another audience member inquired why there were only two utility providers in downstate New York, which was quickly explained that New York utilities focus on distribution services only. The underlying concern about consumer choice in New York’s retail electric market appears to be unfounded. According to a report by the Distributed Energy Financial Group (DEFG), New York is among the top states in the nation for competitive retail electric suppliers.[1] In fact, the 2014 study ranked New York 4th overall (behind Pennsylvania) for residential and 5th for commercial and industrial sector competitiveness in the third party supplier space. It concluded that there is strong “market activity and switching” in the Empire State. [2]

The theme of the second panel was “Energy Investment and Affordability,” which included a discussion on the New York’s recently released “Reforming the Energy Vision” initiative.  Moderated by Mr. Lentz, the panel consisted of the following individuals:

  • Clarke Bruno, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Anbaric Transmission
  • Robert Lurie, CFO, New York Power Authority
  • Hon. Kevin Parker, New York State Senator
  • Gregg Sayre, Commissioner, NYS Public Service Commission

During the question and answer segment, New York AREA executive director Rich Thomas asked the panel to comment on “the apparent conflict” between the state’s transmission objectives and REV goals versus the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) capacity zone and providing ratepayer relief from explicit state energy taxes.  He said, “the capacity zone calls for generation close to load by attracting private capital without subsidy,” and discussion is needed on reducing state energy taxes. After a brief silence, Commissioner Sayre said, “Specific to the capacity zone, the PSC firmly opposes it.” He continued, “the PSC is challenging this in court and will let it play out there.”

The second panel also addressed CHPE. Senator Parker stated that the details need to be “negotiated.”  He added that New York needs to do a better job on investing in energy storage.

NYPA offered a surprising perspective, postulating that CHPE may be “more damaging than its worth.” Mr. Lurie indicated that it is not clear whether CHPE can affordably or safely deliver the power it says it can provide over such a long distance.  Whatever the case, it sure looks like New York ratepayers will be asked to foot the $11 billion bill, trading New York jobs and treasure for a Canadian extension cord.

The event was broadcast via Livestream and is available for viewing here.

New York AREA held a discussion on Twitter (@NewYorkAREA) and Facebook using the hashtag #OnEnergy.

 

[1]     “Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States,” DEFG, January 2014 Link: http://defgllc.com/publication/abaccus-2014-annual-baseline-assessment-of-choice-in-canada-and-the-united-states/

[2]     A complete summary of New York’s third party electric supplier market is available beginning on page 88.