Repower New York's Power Plants

Date Posted: 
Friday, March 16, 2018
Below is the text of a letter sent from Senator Robert Ortt to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

Dear Senator Flanagan,

As I know you are aware, New York is continuing its aggressive clean energy agenda
with a budget proposal to allow the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to have almost limitless capability for investments into renewable energy. At the same time, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is collaborating with the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations to create next-generation clean energy jobs - allegedly to replace lost fossil power jobs with family supportive commensurate employment.
We believe that this cannot happen soon enough, given there have been hundreds of recently lost fossil generation jobs around New York and more on the horizon given new emission standards that will make it impossible for the Somerset and Cayuga Power Plants to stay operational past 2020. Unfortunately, most employees that have lost their jobs - along with those fearing the worst for the future - have heard nothing with regard to "Just Transition" and commensurate employment.
The objectives above must be reconciled to accomplish the most cost-effective and far- reaching environmental and economic outcomes. There is a former plant in Western New York, for example, that sits dormant with acknowledged and extremely valuable transmission and substation infrastructure already in place. As Somerset and Cayuga also face devastating job and tax revenue losses to their regions, they should also merit strong repowering consideration. This can be said for any dormant, or soon to be dormant, power plant site. Brownfields and landfills should also be evaluated for valuable existing infrastructure, including commercial transit corridors. The New York Power Authority is the largest "Public Benefit" utility in the country, and its resources should be dedicated to just that - publicly benefiting regions with lost jobs and
tax revenues related to energy policy changes for the greatest economic and environmental outcomes.
Advancing these ideas - and moving beyond the empty rhetoric of "Just Transition" - should be the top priority of state efforts to develop clean energy while transitioning regions with lost jobs and tax revenue. Among the flaws of the current approach, we see numerous utility scale solar and wind developments are being cited on virgin agricultural lands that additionally require new transmission and substation costs, along with anti-environmental sprawl that is the opposite of the "smart growth" concept. In addition, New York loses a portion of its energy independence every time a New York generator closes and is replaced by imports; along with that there is a significant compromise to the goals of "resiliency" touted as a priority after Hurricane Sandy and other mega-storms. Finally, New York established an Energy Highway Task Force at the end of 2011 to address critical transmission congestion. However, a final developer has yet to be selected nearly seven years later, which underscores the need to repurpose valuable infrastructure that has already been built. State energy policy and state agencies must come together to advance pragmatic, cost effective energy solutions that reinforce state energy independence and resiliency that local power generation provides. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Robert G. Ortt
Senator, 62nd District

Click here to download the letter from Senator Ortt.

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