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Virus Impacts BPU Electric Generation

The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities' Carlson Generating Station is pictured. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Electric production is down at the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities generation facility since the start of the COVID-19, outbreak.

On Monday, Kristofor Sellstrom, BPU energy and gas resource manager, discussed the BPU’s load, or electricity production, being down 10% since the start of the pandemic. Sellstrom said New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) has stated electric production is down 8% across the state.

“If this continues throughout the summer, it’s not a good think,” he said. “As load declines, our revenue declines as well.”

Even before the pandemic, Sellstrom said electric generation was down at the start of the year because of the mild winter. He said residential, commercial and industrial accounts have all declined.

“In the last few years, you can see the concerning trend,” he said.

Sellstrom discussed the BPU’s electric generation while presenting a report on the city-owned utility’s risk management program, which was also renewed by the board Monday. The risk management program’s goal is to manage the risk caused by the wholesale energy market’s volatility and electric generation challenges.

The program is intended to create a framework wherein financial risk is mitigated through a structured process, which includes assessment, documentation and oversight. The day-to-day business activities associated with the program includes the procurement and sale of electrical energy within the NYISO marketplace, the procurement of fuel needed to operate the generation state and the ale of electrical generating capacity. The program is annually approved by the board and reviewed every quarter.

During the risk management presentation, Sellstrom also discussed the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which is also known as the “Green New Deal” and was approved last year by the state Legislature. The act requires that the state have net-zero carbon economy by 2050, which includes 70% renewable energy by 2030.

Because of the state’s Clean Energy Standard, which was approved in 2016, state officials created two new mechanism to meet the state’s energy goals, renewable energy credits (RECs) and zero emission credits (ZECs).

Sellstrom said it is projected that the RECs and ZECs will cost BPU customers $111 million during 19 years to meet the state’s energy goals. In December 2019, 14% of the fuel adjustment charge to customers was because of RECs and ZECs.

In August 2019, 18% of the fuel adjustment was because of RECs and ZECs.

“These state energy policies … mean higher rates for our customers and that is our main concern right now,” said David Leathers, BPU general manager.

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