Aubertine Extends “Olive Branch” for Bipartisanship

State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine today announced that he has chosen to set aside the title of Senate Energy and Telecommunications Chair after a successful year for the committee in the interest of forging a stronger bi-partisan relationship in the Senate.

“As I’ve said throughout my time in public service, a good idea is never a Republican or Democratic idea, it’s just a good idea. Bringing a chair from the other side of the aisle will introduce new ideas to the process and enable me to continue in an active role within the committee,” Sen. Aubertine said. “We have installed a number of key reforms and now we need to take more steps toward improving the relationship between both sides of the political aisle.

“It’s high time we start working with each other, instead of against each other which is why I chose to extend this olive branch to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” Sen. Aubertine continued. “In doing this, we are continuing to set aside the petty political motivations that dominated this body for four decades. This is about putting people first and doing what’s right for New York State.”

Serving as chair of the four separate, but influential and interconnected bodies within the state Senate, has enabled Senator Aubertine to help shape policy to benefit his district and all of Upstate New York. Now serving as the lead lawmaker in three of these entities—the Agriculture Committee, the Senate Upstate Caucus, and the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources—Sen. Aubertine will continue to be a voice in energy policy for Central and Northern New York, as well as all of the Upstate and rural communities throughout our state.

“There is no shortage of work that needs to be done on behalf of Upstate New York, which has been allowed to lag behind Long Island and New York City for 40 years,” Sen. Aubertine said. “In choosing to bring together a bipartisan coalition, we are strengthening the voice of Upstate New York. I will continue to push for the investments and the legislation that will help us grow our economy and make New York State stronger moving forward. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with a new chair and address the issues, ideas and concerns that mean the most to all of us.”

In 2009, the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee passed more key legislation to improve the state’s energy policy than any other Legislature in nearly 20 years. Those accomplishments include the passing and signing of the Green Jobs/Green NY Act, Article 6 legislation to create a permanent state energy planning board, the PACE Sustainable Energy Loan Program, a clean energy initiative for the New York Power Authority, an extension for the Power for Jobs program, and a program that allows the state to purchase green energy.

In his role as chair, Sen. Aubertine has sponsored key legislation, including the Green Jobs/Green NY Act, and also taken an active involvement in gathering input for future legislative actions, including the reform and improvement of programs that use low cost power from NYPA to create and sustain jobs. The “Powering New York’s Future” initiative worked in conjunction with the Assembly Energy Committee to travel across the state to hear from businesses, economic developers and other stakeholders in these programs to help craft legislation to better use the resources of the power authority. The Senator travelled to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Uniondale, Kingston, Syracuse, Oswego and Massena and will host a concluding public hearing in Albany.

The Senator has worked closely with the governor’s office to advance an energy policy that focuses on meeting the power needs of New York State, improves energy efficiency, and develops in state resources for reliable, affordable, clean and renewable energy. The Senator said he will continue to work on these and other initiatives he started as chair, including talks with Quebec Hydro to supplement the demand for power throughout New York State, a carbon sequestration project in Jamestown, and working with the New York Power Authority to protect and preserve jobs in the region, including at Alcoa and through discount power for local businesses, including dairy farms.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished this year and during my tenure as chair,” Sen. Aubertine said. “I will continue to work with the new chair, follow through on the initiatives we’ve started, and be a part of the ongoing work that needs to be done to make New York State more energy efficient so energy is affordable and reliable now and for future generations. We have tremendous potential in New York State to use our energy resources to create jobs and foster innovations for real and lasting economic development.”

Additional key energy legislation passed in 2009 includes OGS Green Energy Purchasing bill which enables the state Office of General Services to purchase and deliver renewable energy and renewable energy credits or attributes on behalf of State agencies, and a bill to expand net metering to include micro-combined heat and power systems, which are small increasingly affordable units capable of both heating and providing up to 40 percent of the electricity for a home or small business as a by-product. Additionally these units are produced in Upstate New York creating economic development potential.