02 Mar City residents shouldn’t have to pay for Cuomo’s upstate nuke bailout
We all know sometimes life isn’t fair.
Case in point, New Yorkers pay more on average in utility costs than people in other parts of the country, due to a complicated mix of factors that include our outdated infrastructure and the challenges we face powering the bulk of our population in a tiny corner of the state.
Those factors are difficult to fix. But there’s a new wrinkle in the quest to power New York that will further drive up our already high utility bills. It’s both unfair and completely avoidable.
Under a new plan announced last year, the state is adding a surcharge to all utility bills — regardless of whether the person uses gas, oil or a renewable resource, which many people are already paying a premium for.
That surcharge, which will also hit businesses and local governments, will bring in an estimated $7.6 billion over the next 12 years. All of the money will go to Exelon, a Chicago-based Fortune 100 company with annual revenues over $34 billion.
All so the company can prop up three aging nuclear power plants. That’s not a fair deal for New York taxpayers.
And it’s even more one-sided when you consider the fact that the vast majority of New Yorkers aren’t even getting their power from these old nuclear plants. Customers with Con Edison, which powers parts of New York City and Westchester, alone will pay $700 million. So we’re basically paying for something we’ll never use.
The subsidies were announced as part of Gov. Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard, which calls for 50 percent of the state’s energy to be renewable by the year 2030. I strongly support that plan — just not the nuclear bailout that comes along with it.
New Yorkers, particularly downstate communities like the one in Queens that I represent, are already paying huge electric bills. It’s unfair to tack on additional charges — particularly when those extra costs can be avoided and when many people cannot afford them anyway. As it is right now, some 800,000 New Yorkers are behind on their energy bills.
Surely there are other ways to achieve the governor’s laudable goal of increasing renewable energy without further hiking electricity bills.
That’s why I recently introduced a bill that would require the state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, to determine what parts of the state are served by the nuclear power plants, and which ones aren’t. Communities that don’t get their power from the plants, mostly in downstate areas like New York City, wouldn’t have to pay under my bill.
It’s only fair.
State Sen. Tony Avella, a Democrat, represents Queens.