• Panel Says: A Reliable, Diverse Supply of Energy Is Critical to New York’s Future Economy

  • JUNE 15, 2012 | ENERGY, INFRASTRUCTURE, NYS GOV'T

  • But Will New York State Get Its Act Together?

  • Cost and reliability are key when it comes to the future of energy in New York State. But what will the mix of energy resources in the plan look like and who will pay for it? There are new dynamics that the business community must be prepared to confront, according to a panel of five energy experts, who....


    WCA's Energy Forum

    ...spoke to more than 60 concerned business people during “Meeting Demand: the Policy and Politics Behind New York’s Energy Outlook,” a forum on energy, presented by the Westchester County Association, BOMA and NYAREA on June 14.

    “The governor’s Energy Highway Task Force is expected to explore ways to meet our state’s future electric power needs while protecting the environment and creating jobs,” said panelist Dr. Matthew Cordaro, co-chair, Suffolk County Legislature LIPA Oversight Committee. “That task force has promised an action plan by the end of this summer.”

    But what will the mix of energy resources in the plan look like and who will pay for it? And what about these other issues that panelists said we’re facing:

    Fact: More than 40% of the electric generation in New York State is transmitted on infrastructure more than 40 years old.

    Fact: New York State will need to replace more than 5,000 miles of transmission lines in the next 30 years at a cost of billions of dollars.

    Fact: Indian Point cannot be shut down unless there’s a replacement facility. At present, Indian Point produces 25% of all the electricity in New York City and Westchester.

    Fact: Non-profit foundations, whose missions may not have a logical connection to the subject of energy, heavily fund protest groups opposed to most forms of energy production, transmission, and licensing projects.

    Fact: A 4,000-megawatt excess of power in upstate New York may cause generation facilities in that area to close.

    According to the panel, a diversity of energy sources is key to efficiently powering New York’s economy long-term. Wind, solar, nuclear and hydro-electric power generation should all be on the table.

    Joe Oates, a panelist at the Energy Forum and vice president, Energy Management for Con Edison, cautioned that New York is becoming increasingly reliant on natural gas to make its electricity. “Fifteen to twenty years ago, about 20% of our power was generated by natural gas. Today, that number is closer to 40% for the state and 100% for New York City,” Oates said. “As a result, the price of natural gas now sets the price for our electricity.”

    Safe Fracking?
    In response to a question on hydro-fracking, the panel identified a need for additional regulation of this burgeoning industry. “Fracking, if performed in an environmentally safe and sound manner, would bring the cost of energy down and provide a new supply for New York,” said Jerry Kremer, chairman, NY AREA.

    Marc L. Spitzer, the keynote speaker and partner with the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, agreed. Spitzer, who previously served as Commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, outlined steps responsible frackers can take – such as sealing well casings and properly treating flowback water – in order to minimize the environmental risk associated with the process. But he warned that even one unqualified provider can put the entire hydraulic fracturing industry in the government’s crosshairs. And strict regulations would put an end to fracking in New York.

    “Energy is the lifeblood of this country,” said Spitzer. “Businesses demand a constant supply of energy and the demands are tremendous.”

    The panel also stressed the importance of system efficiency, noting that energy conservation, as well as a commitment to ongoing capital investment for infrastructure maintenance, should be integral parts of the governor’s Energy Highway Action Plan.

    “Ten years from now, the business community has got to ask: When I go to flick the switch, will the lights go on? What will be the cost of that power? What kind of power will I get?” said Kremer.

    “The business community has to be vigilant and ask questions,” said Bill Mooney, president, Westchester County Association. “Our BLUEPRINT for Westchester initiative is taking a hard look at New York’s energy infrastructure as one critical step in efforts to help businesses here survive and thrive. We invite all members to join the discussion of how progressive thinking can improve New York's economy and environment.”

    The June 14 Energy Forum was sponsored by Customers Bank and GDF Suez Energy Resources N.A. Moderator: Roger Curtis, Global Energy Systems Manager, CB Richard Ellis

    Panelists:
    Roger Curtis (Moderator), Global Energy Systems Manager, CB Richard Ellis
    Dr. Matthew Cordaro, co-chair, Suffolk County Legislature LIPA Oversight Committee
    Jerry Kremer, chairman, NYAREA
    Joe Oates, VP, Energy Management, Con Edison
    Michael N. Romita, executive vice president, Castle Oil Corporation
    Marc L. Spitzer, (Keynote Speaker) partner, Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP; previously a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

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