Proposed Social Cost Of Carbon Surcharge Is Just Another Progressive Tax

Just when one thinks New York state has done all it can to make itself less competitive with neighboring states, New York finds a way to top itself.

This time, the plan isn’t coming from Gov. Andrew Cuomo or Democrats in the state Assembly and Senate. No, this latest bit of goodness comes from the New York Independent System Operator, the agency that operates New York’s power grid. It is proposing considering a pricing system that includes the “social cost of carbon.” NYISO officials reason that by making cheaper electricity from fossil fuels more expensive with a “social cost of carbon” surcharge it will create a rush to implement renewable energy sources like wind and sun. The ISO’s proposal is the grid operator’s way of making the state’s wholesale electricity markets work in harmony with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state policies to carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

The proposal has a long way to go before becoming official. Independent System Operator committees will likely review the proposal throughout this year, with possible implementation not happening until sometime in 2021 at the earliest.

Those who support incorporating the social cost of carbon into electricity prices say it will only cost the average New York power user about $20 a year. Of course, that number likely doesn’t encapsulate those who live in older, energy-inefficient homes occupied by low-income New Yorkers. And, we know that $20 a year figure isn’t what it will cost companies that use huge amounts of electricity to power their operations and create jobs either.

The costs to live in New York and to provide jobs in New York goes up every year not just because of the big reasons like minimum wage expansions or new programs that cost billions of dollars that generate lots of headlines — hidden fees levied without a vote by the representatives elected to represent your wishes in Albany, buried on your bills and receipts in the smallest of print, are a big part of the problem too. New York workers can simply look at their own pay stubs and see the payment we have all been forced to pay for New York FMLA. At least that hidden tax went through the legislative process — the social cost of carbon tax will not.

It’s ironic that Gov. Andrew Cuomo went to Washington, D.C., earlier this week to lobby President Donald Trump to change the 2017 federal tax law’s State and Local Tax Deduction. Cuomo claims the SALT deduction is prompting high-wage earners to leave the state, creating a precipitous decrease in state personal income tax revenues. Many of those same high-wage earners whose tax returns the governor is so concerned about also own businesses. Maybe the governor and state ISO will listen when some of those business owners take their companies — and the jobs they provide — to another state.