State Comptroller’s Report Backs Renewable Energy

Increasing the amount of New York’s electricity produced with renewable energy could create 43,000 new jobs in manufacturing and energy related industries, according to a report issued by New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi. The jobs created could result from increasing the amount of electricity to 25 percent of energy created from renewable sources by 2013 from the current 20 percent.

“As this industry continues to grow, New York has a real opportunity to create new jobs and attract investments to the State,” Hevesi said. New York has a number of characteristics that make it a natural fit for the renewable energy industry, said Hevesi, including abundant natural resources, a highly-skilled workforce, access to capital, world-class academic and research centers, and supportive government programs. “Alternative energy represents extraordinary promise for the economic future of New York State. As a leader in alternative energy technologies and research, New York already has many of the tools necessary to capitalize on this emerging industry and create jobs,” Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said. “Comptroller Hevesi’s report is another important reminder of the critical role our state and federal governments must play in supporting this growing industry.” Between 2000 and 2003, New York State lost 136,000 manufacturing jobs, according to Hevesi, who noted that communities such as Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Long Island are particularly well suited for the renewable energy industry because of research being conducted at universities and private sector companies. He said there are currently 170 private companies in the renewable energy sector in New York State. “The Pataki Administration has set a strong goal for increasing our use of renewable energy,” Hevesi said. “We now need to make the necessary changes to reach that goal to both help the environment and add thousands of high-wage, high-skill jobs to the New York economy, including manufacturing jobs.” The report also outlines potential economic benefits the state could receive from strengthening the renewable energy industry, such as increasing State and local tax revenue collections, increasing revenues to farmers who could lease land to install wind turbines or begin cultivating energy-producing crops, and keeping more of New York’s energy spending in-state. Expanded use of renewable energy also will cut back on the release of harmful pollutants, which will reduce public health care costs and improve the environment. Hevesi recommended several actions for the State to take to strengthen the New York’s renewable energy industry, including: – Passing legislation to allow municipalities to pay as much as 15 percent more for energy from renewable sources than they would for energy from conventional sources. A bill allowing this was passed by the Assembly last year. – Codifying the Pataki Administration’s goal of obtaining 25 percent of the State’s electricity from renewable resources by 2013. Many other states have enacted their renewable energy goals in law. – Enact regulatory changes that make it easier for renewable energy producers to connect to the electric grid, make connection tariffs more predictable, and encourage the Public Service Commission to mediate disputes between renewable energy producers and generators and utilities, as needed. – Amending State energy laws and regulations to promote the purchase of renewable energy by State government agencies. Hevesi also announced that he will audit the System Benefits Charge (SBC) paid by all electricity customers, which funds efforts to encourage the development of renewable energy resources. Hevesi’s audit will offer recommendations to improve accountability and transparency of the SBC, which is currently administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and is set to expire in 2006. Hevesi initiated this study at the request of Senator Hillary Clinton and New Jobs for New York, a not-for-profit organization focused on retaining and attracting new investment and jobs to New York. Hevesi and Senator Clinton participated in a conference sponsored by New Jobs for New York on the State’s renewable energy industry at the Rochester Institute of Technology in February 2004.
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