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Energy Groups Bash NYSERDA Plan for Utility-Owned Renewable Projects

Four power industry advocacy groups went on the record on August 13 with their objections to a proposal advocated by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to permit utility ownership of large-scale renewable energy projects.

The Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc. (IPPNY), the Alliance for a Clean Energy New York (ACENY), the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), and the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (NY AREA) have called upon the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to reject the NYSERDA plan.

The trade organizations have joined together in the belief that the NYSERDA vision would represent “a major step backward from years of PSC policy protecting ratepayers by supporting robust competitive electricity markets through the prohibition of utility-owned generation facilities.”

Specifically, they pointed to a 1996 seminal opinion by the PSC that introduced competitive wholesale electricity markets to New York State. In doing so, the coalition asserted, the PSC recognized “the inefficiencies of a system where utilities were guaranteed [a] return on investment, paid for by captive ratepayers and regardless of the outcome of a project … under a cost-of-service regulatory regime.”

IPPNY CEO Gavin Donohue said since the creation of competitive markets, private developers have brought more than 11,000 MW of all types of electricity generation online. Of that amount, more than 1,700 MW came from wind power – an increase of 3,500 percent from where we were in 2005.”

To date, New York has produced 6,264 MW of renewable generation capacity, including hydro and wind resources.

“Reverting back to the old monopolistic way of doing business would not only undermine future renewables investment by sending a signal to private investors that New York is not a level playing field,” said Donohue, “but also would slow power sector innovation and hearken back to the days where ratepayers funded utility projects through their monthly electricity bills.”

“New York’s reliance on multiple providers of electricity and competitive markets has worked well for over a decade,” said EPSA CEO John E. Shelk. “Opening the doors for a limited number of utilities to re-enter the power production sector would be a costly mistake and misfortune for ratepayers as project costs shift back onto their shoulders.”

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