Upstate residents only have until Monday, February 7, to register comments with the Public Service Commission (PSC) about the Clean Path New York and Champlain Hudson Power Express projects. While the projects are good for New York City, they come at a potentially high cost to upstate New York.
Low-cost energy has long been an important element of upstate New York’s business climate. Electricity rates for industrial users are below the national average, making the region attractive to electricity-intensive industries, such as electric arc mini-mills that recycle scrap steel.
But while the power from these new multi-billion dollar projects will go directly into the City, all New York utility users will help pay for them through their utilities’ purchases of RECs, or renewable energy credits.
And buried deep in the PSC report on these projects is bad news for upstate energy users – residential prices could increase anywhere from 3.5 percent to nearly 10 percent, with a wide range of uncertainty in each case.
But the worse news is the report’s final sentence, which says that “impacts on large commercial customers may be up to twice” as much. That means industrial users could face electricity price increases of nearly 20 percent, depending on their electricity supplier.
Companies must consider every element of their business costs, especially when they’re considering where to locate new facilities. A large increase in the region’s price of electricity could prompt some businesses to locate elsewhere.
New York’s high taxes and costly regulations make it one of the worst business climates in the country, according to the Tax Foundation, which recently ranked the Empire State less business-friendly than any state other than New Jersey. Higher energy prices will make New York even less attractive to firms.
New York City needs cleaner sources of energy, which these projects will provide. But upstate should not have to risk bleeding business investment to make it happen. New York’s climate activists frequently talk about ensuring a just transition to a low-carbon economy. Where is the justice for upstate New York with this plan?