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Yates town supervisor says NY not doing ‘clean government’ in promoting clean energy

Posted 1 July 2019 at 4:31 pm

Editor:

On April 23, 2019, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced their third annual solicitation for large-scale renewable energy proposals under the state’s Clean Energy Standard.  NY taxpayers concerned about the rapid increase in sprawling industrial wind projects should take heed.

There seems to be a conflict of interest between NYSERDA, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), industrial wind developers and the NYS Article 10 Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (the Siting Board).  Two of the seven members of the Siting Board who decide if a project is approved are NYSERDA and the DEC.

NYSERDA is a public, billion-dollar-plus corporation which operates beyond the oversight of the NYS Legislature.  Where does their money come from?  You and me, the ratepayers, when we pay our electric bill each month.

Looking for that line item on your electric bill?  You won’t find it – it is masked and will remain so by order of the NYS Department of Public Service (DPS).

That’s right, every time New Yorkers pay for electricity we are adding an undisclosed amount of our money to what NYSERDA affectionately calls their Green Bank.  And where does the Green Bank money go?  A sizeable portion is “awarded” to industrial wind developers under the Clean Energy Standard solicitations mentioned above.

It’s bad enough that our money is being funneled to this corporation and then redistributed as they see fit, but it gets worse.  The NYSERDA grant decision-making process and the actual amounts awarded are completely concealed from New Yorkers.  It is our money, but not our decision, and not the decision of any of the lawmakers we elect.

Shockingly, in many cases, the NYSERDA grants are awarded before the developers have even filed their application to the DPS for the Siting Board review process.  That process involves 41 detailed exhibits to be submitted, examined and subjected to hearings and cross-examination.

NYSERDA’s January 2019 press release announcing the results of last year’s solicitation awarded funding to 20 projects including Apex Clean Energy’s Heritage Wind project in Barre.  At the time, Apex hadn’t filed their Heritage Wind application.  They still haven’t.

In NYSERDA’s press release, Alicia Barton (NYSERDA CEO) and Basil Seggos (DEC Commissioner) praised the developers and their, “community engagement and responsible siting considerations (Barton),” and touted NYSERDA’s “rigorous review process (Seggos).”

What “community engagement?” What “rigorous review?”  Perhaps we should toss out the 41 exhibits of Article 10 and simply rely on NYSERDA’s rigorous review, after all, it was good enough for NYSERDA.

Meanwhile, hasn’t NYSERDA literally put our money where its mouth is?

Sure, one might argue that the NYSERDA funding is only given to the developer if and when the project is approved.   However, this begs the question: How can NYSERDA remain an impartial voting member of the Siting Board?

Finally, guess who sits on the board of directors of NYSERDA where their billion-dollar Green Bank finger is tipping the scales of justice?  Right, the DEC Commissioner.

Welcome to New York. Clean energy?  How about clean government?

Jim Simon

Yates Town Supervisor