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PATAKI VETOES LEGISLATIVE BUDGET PLOY TO UNDERMINE CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS

Future of Successful, Money-Saving Programs Hinge on Override

ALBANY (April 13, 2006) -- Late Tuesday night Governor George Pataki vetoed a controversial provision of the legislative budget that would forever subject the state's successful energy efficiency and renewable energy investment initiatives to the uncertainty and potential pork-barreling of the yearly budget process.

The veto had been urged by a broad coalition including Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the New York State Builders Association, the City of New York, low-income energy advocates, and companies across the state involved in clean energy development. They say it is essential that experts on energy market and technologies remain in charge of the investment decisions for these new technology initiatives.

"These are model programs that save state consumers almost $200 million each year and bring hundreds of millions of new private-sector investment to upstate communities while cutting our dependence on fossil fuels. These clean energy initiatives are essential to keeping the lights on and increasing job growth in New York," said Katherine Kennedy, Director of NRDC's Northeast Energy Program. "Opening up healthy initiatives to yearly legislative tinkering could undermine years of success."

"Governor Pataki, Senate Minority Leader David Paterson and the other state leaders on both sides of the aisle who are fighting to protect these valuable initiatives deserve great credit," Kennedy said. "The veto is the right thing to do, and we urge lawmakers to let it stand."


Background

New York receives about $150 million each year from electric utility companies to reduce demand on the power grid. The money is made available on a competitive basis for energy efficiency and clean energy investments administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) on a multi-year basis that allows participating companies to focus on larger-scale savings and makes it easier to obtain additional private financing.

A second major initiative is the Renewable Portfolio Standard proposed by Gov. Pataki and adopted last year by the PSC requiring that 25 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2013.

Investments under the two programs have saved New York energy consumers $185 million a year while reducing the threat of blackouts by reducing peak electricity demand by 1,135 megawatts -- the equivalent of three large power plants. The projects have kept thousands of tons of hazardous pollution out of our air.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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