Public Power NY - Organization Sign-on in Support of 2021 Bills

NY State Legislature

Why Public Power?

New York state has far to go in order to meet the mandates set by the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) that was passed in 2019. We cannot leave these mandates to the whims of for-profit business.

Read and sign the letter to support the Public Power NY campaign and its two Public Power bills, which are instrumental to creating an energy system that is democratic, accountable, just, and renewable.

To: NY State Legislature
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned organizations, fully support the Public Power NY campaign and their two Public Power bills, which are instrumental to creating an energy system that is democratic, accountable, just, and renewable. In New York State, renewable power comprises only 28% of the electricity mix (23% hydro, and 5% wind and solar). Under the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) passed in 2019, we have a state mandate to reach 70% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Yet our utility scale renewables are lagging far behind, and we are nowhere close to the CLCPA mandates. In order to meet these mandates, we will have to scale up, and fast. Despite the urgency of transitioning to renewable energy, the investor-owned utilities have delayed development of large-scale renewables, waiting instead for favorable business conditions to trigger the transition and therefore prioritizing shareholders’ profit over a habitable planet for all. Their priority of profit over people’s wellbeing is also why investor-owned-utilities have been exploiting residents with unaffordable rates, unnecessary rate hikes, poor service, and disastrously maintained grids for decades.

We support the Public Power NY coalition’s bills because we know we can’t afford to wait. The climate crisis and unaffordability of energy bills are the naturally destructive results of a privatized, for-profit energy system. To achieve the mandates outlined by the CLCPA, to avoid the worst of the climate crisis and its inequitable racial and economic impacts, and to ensure that energy is a human right, we must change the way our state manages power. A publicly owned, democratically controlled energy system will be cheaper, safer, and better positioned to transition to the renewable energy economy we need.

Public Power NY’s NYPA bill can be the foundation of a renewable jobs program for New York State at a moment when we desperately need a plan to raise employment for working people. New York can set a powerful example for the nation by doing everything in its power to provide good-paying, union jobs in the renewable energy sector, and the public power bills are the path to do this. The provisions of this bill will create union jobs across New York in the renewables sector and provide training opportunities for members of frontline communities to access these jobs. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is the largest state-owned utility in the country, with a track record of providing the most affordable energy in New York; it makes sense for NYPA to be the vehicle that drives our renewable energy transformation. NYPA’s electricity is 83% renewable and provides one quarter of the state’s peak load as well as one third of the backbone transmission infrastructure. Despite this proven capacity, NYPA is legally prohibited from owning or building new utility-scale renewable generation projects.

If New York is to meet the demands of the climate crisis and the requirements of the CLCPA, NYPA must be able to scale up, develop and own clean, renewable energy generation. The NYPA bill will make this possible by allowing NYPA to own new renewable generation projects. It will also give all New Yorkers the option to purchase 100% renewable electricity directly from NYPA at rates lower than those of their current investor-owned utilities. The bill also will ban predatory, for-profit, energy service companies (ESCO)s, thereby lowering customers rates while raising the renewable standards across the state. The bill does all this while remaining revenue-neutral -- it will not cost the taxpayers a dime. This is common-sense legislation we need to meet our climate mandate.

While the NYPA bill accomplishes a lot of things, it does not bring about the democratic governance and public ownership throughout the electric sector that is needed for New York to achieve the 100% renewable, democratically-controlled, publicly-owned electricity future we need. Therefore, the NYPA bill will work in concert with the Public Power NY Distribution bill.
The Public Power NY Distribution bill requires the transition of all of New York State’s distribution utilities from privately-held to public entities within two years, initiates a process of defining and creating new utility territories based on principles of environmental justice, equity, and energy democracy, and sets a timeline for scaling down all gas infrastructure across the state while coordinating and scaling up the renewable electricity infrastructure needed to meet the resulting new demand. This will all be achieved with democratically-elected utility boards and a statewide observatory oversight board that will include environmental justice advocates, labor, independent policy and engineering experts, and good governance groups. Residents will no longer have to worry about not having electricity and heat due to expensive bills, and decisions about energy sources, rates, and investment in our energy infrastructure will be made by our community instead of unaccountable shareholders that prioritize their own profit. This will ensure that we meet the scale of the challenge for New York’s energy system, while lowering rates statewide and transitioning rapidly to renewables.
We know the only way the coalition--and New York State--can win is by building a multi-racial, multi-generational, statewide movement. We know these bills will help urban, suburban, and rural areas with good, well-paying jobs and will bring 100% renewable energy to all New Yorkers at a cheaper rate than the utilities. FDR created NYPA for similar reasons in 1931; it is time for New York to lead again.

These are just some of the reasons that we are signing on to support the Public Power NY campaign and bills.

In solidarity,