New York should ban increases in the fees that appear on utility bills designed to fund energy research and development.

Instead, the state should conduct a full-scale cost study of New York’s energy regulations to help lower energy costs, says a new report issued by the Empire Center for New York Policy.

The report, “NY Unplugged? Building Energy Capacity and Curbing Energy Rates in the Empire State,” also calls on lawmakers to encourage more nuclear power and suspend the state’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state plan designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions, until better technologies are available.

Some of the report’s eight recommendations include: eliminating the systems benefits charge part of a utility bill that funds the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), performing a cost analysis of the state’s environmental and energy regulations; and refashioning the state’s renewable portfolio standard so that energy companies, and not lawmakers, decide how to reach clean energy goals.

The system benefits charge increased by almost 200 percent since it began in 1998, and is expected to cost New York taxpayers $1.85 billion by 2011, the report states.

It also cites energy prices as a major factor pushing business out of the state. Only Hawaii and Connecticut have higher energy rates than New York.

Empire Center for Public Policy is an independent research group and an affiliate of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

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