Our Voices Need To Be Heard On Cuomo’s ‘Green New Deal’

Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his idea of a “Green New Deal” to make New York’s electricity 100 percent carbon-neutral by 2040.

The timeframe and carbon reductions are significant changes from plans the governor has discussed publicly in the past, like his 80 percent reduction in grenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or the earlier pronouncement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

Every time the governor makes one of these pronouncements, they come with a cost that that doesn’t come out until months later.

That’s the case with the Clean Energy Standard. It was 2015 when Cuomo originally directed the Public Service Commission to develop the Clean Energy Standard with a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030. The announcement itself makes a big splash, but it is the two years it takes to develop the rules and guidelines that ends up affecting us.

Just last week, we received another reminder of the Clean Energy Standard’s impact on Jamestown when David Leathers, Jamestown Board of Public Utilities general manager, said the cost of renewable energy credits and zero emission credits will increase by $1.5 million.

Why is that important?

The $1.5 million increase from renewable energy credits roughly equals the added rates the utility raised from its most recent Public Service Commission rate cases. While there was much public opposition to the rate cases, the energy credits went through the same process, but the state did little to actively engage the public who ends up paying the bill. The energy credits are coming from your bank account and, most likely, the bank account of your employer yet there was little local outcry.

There is another cost, too, that showed up during the recent arbitration case between the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association and the city of Jamestown. Charles DeAngelo, Kendall Club lawyer, argued that the city would have had money available to give pay raises for police officers if it had requested a revenue sharing payment from the BPU. It can be argued that one reason the money isn’t available as it was in the past is the ever-increasing costs that come with the Clean Energy Standard. The utility’s profits certainly take a hit when it’s paying upwards of $75,000 a month for zero emission credits — and those profits could be doing some good locally whether it’s helping the city’s bottom line or paying for infrastructure upgrades that the BPU needs to undertake.

There is little that can be done about the Clean Energy Standard. It’s another of the state’s largely hidden mandates that comes at a hefty cost. We can, however, learn from past mistakes and make sure that our voices are heard during the development of any rules related to Cuomo’s “Green New Deal” or the governor’s latest pet environmental projects.