NY’s Reforming the Energy Vision Lacks Good Jobs Vision

To The Editor:

Politicians are led by polls and this is the case with Energy Reform in New York State.

In a poll conducted by Clarity Campaign Labs, 77% of New York voters think the government should do more to support renewable energy and 10% of are already using renewable energy in their private lives with 60% wanting to in the future.

Basically, 2 out of 3 of us believe that being 100% reliant on renewable energy is possible. This is going to sound crazy, but 2 out of 3 of us have no idea what we are talking about.

Our desire to do is good is great, but our knowledge on how energy is created, stored and delivered lacks basic understanding.

Climate change is real, recently Pope Francis told us we need to do something now, and we’re doing what we can here in New York. Major global polluters like Mexico, China and India still have much work to do when it comes to their carbon emission standards.

The best we can do at this point is lead by example.

Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) public hearings have good intentions but sadly have been sideshows designed to portray the state as a carbon emissions reduction leader that grants credit to anyone installing solar panels on anything. This is happening while FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant, which emits no carbon, recently announced it will be closing its doors eliminating 600 good middle class jobs.

The close will also eliminate $17 million local property taxes annually. This could happen under the Governor’s watch absent state intervention.

Recently in New York at a REV Public Hearing at NYU, the environmentalist community mobilized in force to call for the closing off all power plants and to push for full reliance on alternative methods. It’s unreasonable, dangerous and lacks basic economic understanding of how energy is generated, stored and distributed.

To prematurely close coal, hydro and nuclear is pandering and it places our energy reliance intelligence in the hands of political appointees and affluent environmental activists while ignoring educated practitioners.

New York’s REV grants credit to non-carbon emitting sources like solar and wind but discriminates against non-carbon emitting sources like nuclear.

Nuclear power needs Albany’s help but is unpopular with environmentalists. Governor Cuomo lives in Westchester County, home of the Indian Point Nuclear Power facility so with state seats up for grabs, what politicians want to start fights with environmentalist?

New York’s coal plants are some of the cleanest in the country. In fact, only 4% of New York’s grid is supplied from coal generation plants and the burning of clean coal has made tremendous progress over the years.

Our Pennsylvania and New Jersey neighbors are still far behind in this respect, but if Cuomo’s REV plan is put into motion, coal plants will close, more good jobs will be lost, schools will be defunded and pollution will float in the air over into our borders.

Granting credit to just wind and solar doesn’t make sense because looking at the reliability of the issue; wind dies and the sun sets.

With the topic of good jobs being omitted from the REV conversation, it is important to note that most of the jobs surrounding these industries are low wage and unskilled with facilities generating very little tax revenue.

The New York State Electrical Workers Association, a coalition of power professionals in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are coming together with the construction trades who install solar technologies.

Their intent is to join the conversation at REV public hearings to offer their expertise on how to approach the issue by maintaining good jobs, creating emission free energy and finding real methods of reducing carbon emissions in existing power generating stations.

Good jobs can be created and communities can be saved, but only if the pandering stops and the listening begins because rising above all the political noise, our public and economic health depend on us, now and for all future generations.

Ted Skerpon

Chair of the 15,000 member NYS Utility Labor Council and a board member of the 60,000 member NYS Electrical Workers Association.

Visit utilitylaborcouncil.com/REV for more information.