Last Thursday, I participated in an eye-opening and educational event on energy in Westchester County. The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) co-hosted Westchester County Association’s “Meeting Demand” energy forum.
Highlights included opening remarks from WCA BLUEPRINT for Westchester director Marissa Brett, who disclosed that state and local government taxes make up more than 25 percent of business and residential bills. These taxes add to the total cost we pay to power our homes and business. Ms. Brett pointed out that although the money pays for many important government services, it has a negative impact on ratepayers, as high electricity costs inhibit both economic growth and job creation.
Much of the forum’s focus was on energy’s impact on the economy, and specifically the role energy plays in determining whether businesses and industries can survive and expand in the Hudson Valley. During the panel discussion, New York AREA Chairman Jerry Kremer told the audience, “The business community has one concern: When I flip the switch ten years from now, will the lights come on?”
Panelists discussed the factors which contribute to New York’s high energy costs, including excessive regulation, inadequate transmission, and insufficient generation. Con Ed Energy Management Vice President Joe Oates offered a solution later echoed by other panelists: in order to meet growing demand and keep rates affordable, New York must look at accessing new energy resources like natural gas, while also maintaining its vital, existing power sources.
The forum also provided the audience with the opportunity to hear from an energy regulator. Marc Spitzer, former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission discussed the importance of markets, infrastructure, and the rule of law in shaping the energy sector.
Westchester County has its energy challenges, as does the entire state, but I can assure you that we also have some of the greatest minds working on solutions to ensure our region, and our state, can properly address growing demand and plan for our future power needs.
For more on the forum and to view pictures and video from the event, check out New York AREA’s website.