August 13, 2011
New York

Butler talks Power NY with Herkimer Co. legislators

By Rob Juteau, GateHouse News Service, 13 August 2011

When the Power New York Act was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year it re-authorized Article X of the state’s Public Service Law, giving Albany the authority to site electricity-generating projects of 25 megawatts or more.

“It takes away local control,” state Assemblyman Marc Butler, R,C,I – Newport, said during Thursday night’s meeting of the Herkimer County Legislature’s Planning and Development Committee.

“While a lot of good things were included in the Power New York Act, I couldn’t support it because it took away the local decision making process,” he continued. “Local people should have their say.”

Butler, who met with committee members and county officials to discuss hot button issues in Albany and Thursday’s launch of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Committee, said specifically Article X will have an impact on the development of future wind farms.

“The fate of projects similar to the Hardscrabble wind farm in Fairfield and Norway will be decided by a body of five people in Albany,” he said. “This is unfair to the public and to small communities.”

Butler also called attention to a measure called on-bill recovery included in Power New York.

The concept, he said, would allow the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to pool funding from private lenders to pay up-front for energy efficiency improvements to people’s homes. The loans are meant to help create “green” jobs while saving homeowners money, as they would pay off the investment by means of a temporary, monthly charge on their utility bill.

If the person stops paying, the investors and the state would be partially covered through a reserve.
“That reserve will funded with taxpayer money, which I have a problem with,” said Butler.

“It’s a shame the decision making process is being taken away from local communities,” said Planning and Development Committee Chairman John Piseck in response to Butler’s presentation. “Luckily, Herkimer County has its own power for jobs initiative in the Frankfort 5S South Business Park, which has all of the infrastructure a company could ask for, including low-cost municipal power.”

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