Category Archives: Energy

Gordon speaks out on Indian Point closure

Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester, and member of our board, wrote an excellent OpEd in the Journal News which highlights the impact of the impending closure of Indian Point Energy Center and recognizes the plant’s owner, Entergy, for their significant contributions to the community.

From the OpEd:

“As we have long stated, the power generated at Indian Point has played a direct role in stabilizing electricity costs in Westchester and the State of New York.  We have repeatedly called for the plants to be relicensed, a process that has been unnecessarily dragged out for 15 years and counting.  We are disappointed that this lack of action, coupled with the related massive legal costs, has contributed to the decision to shut down the facility.

We recognize that for some members of the community and a number of elected officials, the announcement is good news. Unfortunately, the shutdown poses an entirely new set of questions with no certain answers, including the loss of nearly 1,000 high-paying private-sector jobs and massive tax losses to the local community and school district.

Gov. Cuomo has repeatedly called for the plant’s closure.  We wait to learn how he intends to deal with the prospect of increased electric rates, the reliability of electric supply for Westchester, the Hudson Valley region and New York City, and the myriad of environmental and other issues the shutdown inevitably will bring.

We thank Entergy for its generosity and support of countless community groups, non-profit organizations and families across the area.  In short, Entergy has consistently displayed the best of corporate citizenship.”

We whole-heartedly agree with the sentiments expressed by Ms. Gordon. Entergy is a longtime and valued member of our own organization, and we look forward to continuing that relationship.

In response to news of the closure, Entergy sent the following message to shareholders, we encourage you to click the link and read it: http://www.bcnys.org/inside/energy/2017/Entergy-Message-to-Stakeholders-Indian-Point.pdf.

How are high energy costs affecting job growth?

The U.S Chamber of Commerce is out with a terrific piece highlighting the negative effect high energy costs are having on job growth throughout New England. The story is familiar to anyone who has tried to own and operate a business in New York.

One of our own member companies, Kinder Morgan, which is in the process of securing approvals for a natural gas pipeline which would run through portions of New York State, receives a mention in the post.

“Pipeline companies are itching to extend their lines to bring plentiful gas into Massachusetts; Kinder Morgan KMI +0.87% has already signed up long-term buyers for the gas it would haul in via its stalled $3.3 billion Northeast Direct line.

But that’s not going to happen, at least not anytime soon. Despite the fact that Western Massachusetts’ GDP plunged 3.6% from 2007-13 (while the U.S. overall expanded 5.6% over the same time), opposition by small, well-organized groups to any new pipeline remains as ferocious as it is irrational. “We want to prevent the overbuilding of gas infrastructure and overreliance on gas, for economic reasons and climate reasons,” says Kathryn Eiseman, head of Massachusetts PipeLine Awareness Network advocacy group. Yet thanks to her group and others like it, in January 2014 New England’s power companies, lacking gas to make electricity, resorted to burning 2.7 million barrels of emergency fuel oil–more expensive and far more toxic, pumping out twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas. So much for “economic and climate reasons.””

New Yorkers know all too well the negative impact NIMBY-activism can have on economic growth. We encourage you to take the time to read the entire piece and let us know what you think.

Con Ed report highlights emissions cut

This is truly incredible news. Con Edison recently released their 2014 Sustainability Report 2014 Sustainability Report (read it here) and they are touting some eye-popping numbers. Since 2005, Con Ed has cut greenhouse gas emission by 45 percent. That’s the same as removing 500 thousand cars from the road.

Other highlights taken directly from the report include:

  • As one of the largest consumers of municipal water in New York City, we purchased over 3.6 billion gallons of water, approximately 100 million of which was used for basic water and sewage services at our facilities while the rest was used to generate steam.
  • The wise and effective use of natural resources is one of Con Edison’s five key EH&S objectives. We continue to focus on reducing, reusing, and recycling to minimize consumption. This applies to our use of materials as well as our use of energy and water and we were proud in 2014 to again have a recycling rate of 90% for our non-hazardous waste.
  • Our primary impact on habitat and biodiversity is on our overhead transmission rights-of-way (ROW) and in 2014, we continued to enact our Land and Vegetation Management program which was developed, in part, to encourage biological diversity along these passageways. We’ve also undertaken an initiative in partnership with the New York DEC to reduce the spread of invasive species in ROW.
  • Our seven climate change principles help guide our work, and in 2014 we reached the halfway mark in our four-year, $1 billion plan for storm hardening investments to adapt our system after two of our most significant storms within two years (Hurricane Irene in 2011 with over 200,000 outages and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 with over 1 million outages) and improve our resiliency.

(source: Con Edison’s 2014 Sustainability Report)

We are proud to have Con Ed as a member and congratulate them on making and keeping their commitment to improving corporate sustainability.

USA Today says yes to fracking

Less than two weeks ago New York State officially banned fracking. The decision was not unexpected. In fact, we’ve known it was coming since last December. We remain dismayed that state officials chose to ignore the evidence that fracking can be done safely, including a detailed report from the EPA.

A holiday weekend editorial in the USA Today says it best: “Any debate about banning it should take a hard look at what that would cost the nation and at facts that aren’t always part of the discussion.

Those facts are spelled out in a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency on fracking and groundwater. One of the harshest charges against fracking, often leveled with apocalyptic intensity by its foes, is that it indiscriminately contaminates vital drinking water supplies.

The EPA’s timely report essentially said that’s overblown.”

The Business Council remains hopeful that as more and more reports come out that fracking can be done safely the state of New York will reverse its misguided ban. The residents of the Southern Tier deserve the chance to join in on the economic opportunities hydraulic fracturing has created in many communities around the country.

New study touts benefit of Indian Point

The National Energy Institute (NEI) is out with a new study, released today, that highlights the financial impact of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County.

According to the NEI’s study, which can be downloaded here, Indian Point pumps $1.6 billion into the state’s economy each year. The same study says the plant contributes an additional $900 million to the nation’s economy.

From the study:

“Indian Point’s annual spending creates a huge ripple effect in the state and nationwide: The facility’s operation generates $1.3 billion of annual economic output in the local counties, $1.6 billion statewide and $2.5 billion across the United States. The study finds that for every dollar of output from Indian Point, the local economy produces $1.27, the state economy produces $1.55 and the U.S. economy produces $2.48.

Entergy provides higher-than-average wages at Indian Point: Entergy directly employs approximately 1,000 people at Indian Point. Because they are technical in nature, these jobs typically are higher-paying. This direct employment leads to another 2,800 indirect jobs in surrounding counties and 1,600 in other industries in New York for a total 5,400 jobs in-state. There are an additional 5,300 indirect jobs outside the state for a total of 10,700 jobs throughout the United States.”

The Business Council of New York State, Inc., supports the continued operations of Indian Point, which is essential to the New York State economy. This electrical generation facility provides 2,069 megawatts of baseload power to New York’s electrical grid every single day. Indian Point accounts for up to 11 percent of the power used statewide and 25 percent of the power in both Westchester County and New York City.

A grid that talks back

Would you like to save money while saving the planet? That’s possible with a relatively new ‘smart meter’ that can tell your utility provider how much energy you need, and if you need service after an outage.

At the Renewable Energy Conference, held last week in the Hudson Valley, Jim Laurito, a member of The Business Council’s board of directors and President and CEO of Central Hudson Gas and Electric, touched on this possibility as technology transforms the energy industry. He explained how smart meters can “fine tune” load delivery, saving you money and conserving electricity because less energy is wasted and less goes unused. This could help bring down peak load, effectively shaving “3% off the top”, which also translates into money saved.

Solar installations have grown tremendously within the Hudson Valley. In fact, they now number around 3,000, with those installations producing a total of 36 megawatts of electricity. The number of solar installations is expected to increase, however the implementation of smart meters will take nearly a decade.

Dario Gil, a vice president of IBM, also illustrated how data collection, analysis, and application will help streamline the energy industry. He gave an example of how weather prediction systems can optimize positioning of repair crews, which means those crews operate more efficiently and customers spend less time without power.

As Laurito puts it, “we want to get closer to our customers”, and a smart grid would absolutely do that. Everybody wins: the consumer, the provider, the economy, and the environment.

The Renewable Energy conference took place on April 29-30 at Marist College, and was sponsored by The Business Council, Marist College, and the Hudson Renewable Energy Institute.

Jim Laurito, president and CEO of Central Hudson Gas and Electric
Jim Laurito, president and CEO of Central Hudson Gas and Electric

New York businesses observe Earth Hour

Many New York businesses participated in Earth Hour on March 28 by turning out and dimming lights to emphasize energy-efficiency awareness.  The Empire State Building dimmed its lights, while theaters on Broadway also toned down the neon.

Business Council member Verizon turned off the lights in nearly 500 of its buildings in 37 countries around the world. In all, Verizon darkened 25 million square feet of building space around the world—the equivalent of nearly 12 Empire State Buildings.

Since 2010, Verizon and its employees around the world have participated in the Earth Hour movement, helping the World Wildlife Fund to promote sustainable living, expand energy-efficiency awareness, and take a stand against climate change. Verizon promotes sustainability in its employee culture, encouraging participation in Earth Hour and community-environment events. As a result, thousands of employees — many of them among the 17,000 member Verizon Green Team, the company’s largest employee resource group—have pledged to darken their homes in 25 countries during Earth Hour 2015.

Please click here to watch as Verizon observes Earth Hour.

Energy tax repeal included in Senate Budget

With a little less than three weeks left before the April 1 deadline for passage of the FY 2016 state budget, both houses of the Legislature have now staked out their positions in one-house budget bills.

As one would expect, the Senate budget focuses more sharply on economic growth and job development. The Business Council was especially pleased to see a provision calling for the full repeal of the 18-a temporary assessment on electricity which adds millions of dollars in costs to all residential and commercial electric rates across the state.

Last week, The Business Council joined with the New York Alliance for Reliable Affordable Energy (NY-AREA) and the Independent Power Producer of New York (IPPNY) to support the repeal of 18-a.

Heather C. Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council made the case for repeal of the tax in this interview with NYSNYS.

Ginna Nuclear Facility generates $358 million per year for New York economy

A study of the economic impact of the R. E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Ontario, NY, released today by the Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Energy Institute, concludes the plant adds $358 million to New York’s economic output and nearly $450 million across the entire U.S. economy.

“This study confirms that Ginna greatly strengthens the local, regional and state economies through job creation, tax payments, and direct and secondary spending. In many ways, nuclear energy facilities and their employees are invaluable to the quality of life in the communities where they operate,” said Richard Myers, NEI’s vice president for policy development, planning and supplier programs.

The study analyzed the impact of Ginna’s operations through 2029—the end of its 60-year operating license. Spending, and thus the economic impact of the plant, is considerably higher in years with refueling and maintenance outages when an additional 800 to 1,000 skilled workers earn up to $25 million. Ginna performs this type of outage on an 18-month frequency.

The full study is available here.

“Operationally, Ginna is an outstanding performer and is recognized as a reliable generating asset in the nuclear industry,” said Maria Korsnick, chief nuclear officer, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group and senior vice president, Exelon.

“Ginna creates very positive financial impacts for the entire state of New York and, as this study shows, it is a very important asset for the local economy providing affordable, reliable, baseload electricity that New York homeowners and businesses can count on. Ginna also provides tremendous carbon-prevention benefits that are all too often overlooked. This study affirms Ginna’s importance as a powerful economic engine and a clean energy asset.”

The R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant is located on 426 acres along the south shores of Lake Ontario in Ontario, N.Y., about 20 miles northeast of Rochester. Ginna is a Westinghouse pressurized water reactor with an output of approximately 580 megawatts—enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has licensed the plant to operate through 2029.

Another Voice: Lift the state’s moratorium on fracking

In a Buffalo News Op-Ed, Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Corp., and author of “The Fracking Truth, ” urges the Cuomo administration to lift the state’s now six-year-old moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

In the Op-Ed, Faulker writes, “Job growth must be Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top priority over the next four years. New York’s unemployment rate is still well above 6 percent. Over half a million state residents are out of work.

“The governor’s best option for revitalizing the local job market is clear: rescind the moratorium on fracking. Driven by activist hysteria, then-Gov. David A. Paterson prohibited the practice in 2010.

“That hysteria has since been firmly refuted by science. Fracking poses virtually zero risk to the environment. And allowing oil and gas drillers to get back to work will stir robust job creation throughout the state.

“Fracking uses highly pressurized mixtures of water and sand, along with very small amounts of certain chemicals, to capture oil and natural gas embedded in underground rock formations. Green activists worry fracking contaminates the drinking water near drill sites. That claim has been heavily studied and revealed as baseless. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency has never reported a case of fracking causing groundwater contamination.

“Meanwhile, the economic benefits of fracking are very real.

“Fracking operations already support 2 million jobs nationwide and add nearly $300 billion to the U.S. economy every year.

“New York’s southern neighbor, Pennsylvania, is a major beneficiary of fracking’s economic rewards. More than 200,000 Pennsylvania jobs are tied to oil and gas extraction. And these are exactly the kind of positions New York legislators are looking to cultivate locally, paying, on average, about $62,000 per year.

“The switch to natural gas can make a huge impact on citizens’ health. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection estimates that the state and its residents have saved up to $37 billion in reduced health care costs as a result of better air quality.

“Soon enough, lifting New York’s fracking moratorium won’t just be good policy – it will be a political imperative. The public is catching on to the fact that new fracking means new jobs.

“New York voters just overwhelmingly re-elected Cuomo. He should repay that support by taking action guaranteed to boost their job prospects. Lifting the fracking moratorium would do wonders for New York’s economy.”