ALBANY – Senate Republicans abruptly asked the Public Service Commission to push back a vote Thursday morning on one of the Cuomo administration’s signature plans to grow renewable energy, just as the commission was set to approve the plan.
The letter opposing the Clean Energy Fund was signed by senior Senate Republicans including majority leader John Flanagan of Long Island, deputy majority leader John DeFrancisco of Syracuse and energy committee chair Joe Griffo of Utica.
The lawmakers objected to the plan’s current formulation because it doesn’t require legislative approval and because the administration had not conducted an analysis on what it would cost ratepayers.
They said a budget analysis was particularly important because the Cuomo administration proposed a Clean Energy Standard in December that would mandate New York get half of its power from renewables by 2030.
“The CEF itself is a major fiscal initiative and has the potential to be even larger when taking into account the CES,” the lawmakers wrote. “While we do not believe that the Commission is taking the fiscal implications of these initiatives lightly, it is the position of the Conference that the proceeding would be strengthened by a real cost benefit analysis and genuine opportunity for public input.”
A Republican attorney dropped off the letter in person while the meeting was underway and just moments before the commission was expected to vote on the Clean Energy Fund.
The PSC has accepted public comments on the fund for months.
Thursday morning, the letter sparked drama during a proceeding PSC chairwoman Audrey Zibelman had just described as a singular moment in her career because it would dramatically shift New York’s energy grid away from traditional fossil fuel resources.
The PSC had been on the verge of approving the fund, which will invest in growing solar, wind and other renewable resources throughout New York at an unprecedented pace.
The fund – supported largely through surcharges on monthly utility bills – is the Cuomo administration’s primary vehicle for financially supporting clean energy and crafting policy designed to transform New York’s energy grid more aggressively than virtually every other state.
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