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County Legislature Divided Over Opposition of Power NY Act

OSWEGO, NY – Members of the Oswego County Legislature agree that the Power NY Act of 2011 has some good points as well as some bad.

What they couldn’t agree on Thursday night was whether to oppose it.

It was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July; the intent was to increase power production and lead to new investment all across the state.

However, one part in particular has municipalities up in arms.

The act creates a new state board that has the authority to ignore any local ordinance, law … or any local standard or requirement … if it finds that … such is unreasonably burdensome … on ratepayers whether located inside or outside of such municipality.

That would mean the state could come in and place wind turbines in Lake Ontario, even though the county voted last year to prohibit such a project, Legislator Shawn Doyle of Pulaski pointed out.

After a lengthy debate on the resolution, it was proposed to take out the part that said opposed to the Power NY Act of 2011 and replacing it with specific provision relating to the sitting of energy facilities and transmission lines which challenge home rule.

The resolution was amended. But then the legislators continued to debate the issue; resulting with the amendment being rescinded.

Legislators took two recesses in which the two caucuses further discussed the resolution.

Legislator Amy Tresidder of Oswego pointed out the act not only saves energy, it would save the taxpayers money and would create construction jobs.

“We can’t ignore that. It’s ridiculous that we would even think about it,” she said.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler chastised the majority for trying to ram the resolution through.

“If this had been brought back to committee, the dialogue would have been good, concise and productive for the taxpayer. But no,” he said.

The childish games the legislature plays month after month only hurts the taxpayers, he said. “None of you even read this bill tonight; I’ll guarantee it, one or two of you,” he added. “We could have done something very good tonight. Instead you turned it into a childish game.”

Legislator Barb Brown and Jacob Mulcahey commended Doyle for bringing forth an amendment that everyone could agree on.

“But then suddenly, it disappeared again. And I am sorry,” she said. “I cannot support this (act) when it says the new board will have the authority to ignore any local ordinance, standards or requirements … I don’t think any town wants to be ignored!”

“This has already passed. This is already law. The ship has sailed,” Kunzwiler pointed out. “We could have took parts of this, that are good, and brought the case more strongly and advocated for the bad things to be taken out. We recognize that the whole bill is not flawed.  Now, saying the whole bill is bad – do you really think you did justice to this? It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing.”

“It’s unfortunate that this has turned into a political football,” agreed Legislator Jim Karasek of Fulton.

There are parts of the bill that would assist people, he added.

“What are we doing here?” Mulcahey asked rhetorically. “We’re opposing saving the taxpayers dollars. We’re opposing cutting energy consumption. We’re opposing bringing potential jobs in here.”

Doyle said his opposition to wind power is that “the only works in the state is with heavy federal subsidies. It’s a big shell game.”

The crux of the county’s resolution is “to oppose another grab by a larger government entity of our home rule,” he said. The county wants to find ways to create jobs, but it wants to have a say about those things, “not just somebody in Long Island that doesn’t want to look at a power project off of Long Island Sound and says ‘Let’s stick it up there on Lake Ontario. They’ll take the 10 jobs and be grateful,’” he continued.

Every bill has good and bad parts, he noted.

“But (in this case) the bad outweighs the good,” he said. “So I support a memorializing resolution opposing the Power Act,” he said.

Finally, just before 9 p.m., Legislator Linda Lockwood called the question ending debate and forcing the vote.

The final vote was 19-6 in favor of opposing.

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