Pataki Veto Saving Successful Programs is Only Significant Measure to Beat Senate Overrides
ALBANY (April 27, 2006) -- The only key measure left standing at the end of yesterday's battle between Governor Pataki and the State Senate over 207 separate line items axed by the governor from the legislative budget was a three-provision veto protecting New York's highly successful, money-saving energy efficiency and renewable energy investment programs from being rolled into the black hole of the annual budget process.
The veto has the strong support of labor unions, the business community, and conservation organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). A similar legislative proposal was turned back last year.
"The fact that this was the only significant veto left untouched yesterday shows the success of New York's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs," said Katherine Kennedy, NRDC's Northeast Energy Program Director. "We're hopeful that we've now closed the chapter on this debate and that we can move forward with the legislature and the Governor on an ambitious agenda to build and strengthen clean energy efforts in New York,"
Veto supporters pointed to last week's report by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi giving a clean bill of fiscal health to the two energy programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). On Monday, Attorney General Elliot Spitzer voiced his support for the veto as well.
State Senator David A. Paterson, leading the Senate Democratic conference, was key to stopping the veto override on this issue. Senator Paterson agreed that the Governor's veto was critically important to clean air and clean energy in New York. "Jeopardizing the long-range investments needed to build alternative energy sources like wind power threatens the immediate future of a new industry that is investing millions of dollars in the Upstate economy," Paterson said.
New York receives about $150 million each year from electric utility companies to reduce demand on the power grid. NYSERDA makes money available on a competitive basis for energy efficiency and clean energy investments administered on a multi-year basis, allowing participating companies to focus on larger-scale, long-term savings and making it easier to obtain additional private financing.
A second major initiative covered by the veto was the Renewable Portfolio Standard adopted in 2004 by the Public Service Commission requiring that 25 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2013.
Investments under the two programs save New York consumers $195 million each year while reducing the threat of blackouts by cutting peak electricity demand by the equivalent of three large power plants.