Energy Talks, Farm Tours Will Help Shape Agenda for Remainder of 2009, 2010

By Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine

For the past two weeks I have been travelling the state to discuss the future of our low cost energy for economic development programs. I have also met with and talked to farmers about the current state of agriculture. As chair of the Senate Agriculture and the Senate Energy and Telecommunications committees, I will use input from these discussions to help shape the policies to promote economic development and address the needs of businesses in the coming Legislative session.

While on the North Fork of Long Island, I had the opportunity to visit several farms including a sod grower, an aquaculture farm for oysters, a potato chip factory, and a horse stable featuring a relatively new breed to the United States, the gypsy vanner. I also had the opportunity to meet with the executive board of the Long Island Farm Bureau to discuss what we can do at the state level to best grow our agriculture industries. These meetings are all in anticipation of additional agriculture roundtables which I will hold this month and next.

On the energy side, I have found that there is a desire among businesses and trade groups to reform these programs to make them more effective and more efficient to create and preserve jobs across the state. These programs have helped many energy intensive industries to maintain employment levels or hire new workers, whether we are talking about Alcoa in Massena with preservation power or Birdseye Foods in Fulton and other beneficiaries of the Power for Jobs program.

My goal is to develop a long term approach to using the New York Power Authority’s resources for economic development. Ideas for how to best do that are what we are gathering now. I’m not interested in just having us write legislation in Albany and pass it. These forums are a real opportunity for all stakeholders to participate and many have discussed a desire to see the state’s low-cost power economic development programs centralized as a one-stop-shop for businesses. There is also a push for better energy efficiency programs.

I strongly believe that we can take the current programs and make them better to maintain good paying jobs in our communities and grow new industry. In Long Island last week, there was a push for using low cost power in conjunction with business incubators at our universities and colleges. Joining education and research to get businesses started has been successful and using low cost power as an incentive for these fresh businesses, including some that we have seen start up at Cornell for instance in green technologies, could help keep new industries in New York to grow and define a new economy that retains our young people.

This week our Energy Committee roundtable will be in Oswego and I look forward to being in the district and hearing more ideas. Certainly the energy industry is important to our region, from the two nuclear facilities in Oswego on up to the Moses-Saunders Hydro-Dam in Massena, along with our tremendous potential for alternative energy. We must continue to work to use energy production and conservation to create jobs and promote new industry and these forums will help us accomplish that.