NYPA President Urges Municipal Systems to Expand Energy-Efficiency Efforts

Stephen Shoenholz

SEPTEMBER 9, 2003 

ALEXANDRIA BAY—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Eugene W. Zeltmann urged the state’s municipal electric systems on Tuesday night to work with NYPA to carry out expanded energy-efficiency programs in their service territories.

“Energy efficiency makes sense, in your system operations and for your customers,” Zeltmann said in a speech at the state Municipal Electric Utilities Association’s (MEUA) 73rd annual conference.  “Give us your ideas and tell us how we can help you rededicate yourselves to this essential objective.”

Zeltmann said last month’s blackout had underscored the need to assure a reliable power supply by strengthening the transmission system, building clean new power plants and acting aggressively to conserve energy.

He read a letter from Gov. George E. Pataki noting that the MEUA, in partnership with NYPA, “strongly emphasizes the values of energy conservation and environmental protection, balanced with the economic development necessary for a thriving New York.”  The governor cited the MEUA’s “longstanding tradition of providing secure, reliable and affordable electric services in its member communities.”

In his remarks, Zeltmann said a recent agreement between NYPA and the MEUA provides the foundation for expanded cooperative efforts to create new jobs, promote the use of clean electric and hybrid-electric vehicles and implement energy-efficiency measures in the municipal systems’ territories.

Despite past successes, he said the municipal systems “haven’t fully reaped the benefits of the Power Authority’s commitment and expertise when it comes to energy efficiency and clean new energy technologies.”

Zeltmann called on the systems to build on MEUA programs and on various energy-efficiency initiatives involving the Power Authority.  These have included:

  • The “Watt Buster” program of the 1990s, in which NYPA conducted home energy audits and financed the installation of nearly $5 l/2 million in energy-saving measures in more than 35 municipal and rural cooperative electric systems.  The program has cut overall peak demand for electricity in participating systems by more than 15 megawatts, reduced annual electricity costs by more than $1 million and lowered yearly emissions of greenhouse gases by about 19,000 tons by permitting reduced use of power plants burning coal, oil or natural gas.

  • The Pataki Administration’s “Keep Cool” program, which enabled residential consumers to receive a financial reward for turning in old air conditioners in exchange for new, efficient models. Thanks to NYPA, more than 4,400 municipal and cooperative customers benefited from the program over the past three summers.

  • The “Tree Power” program, in which NYPA and the municipal systems join to plant trees in the systems’ communities.  More than 30,000 trees have been planted under the program, which Zeltmann said will be continued next year.

Zeltmann noted that the MEUA and its 46 members have agreed to “unequivocally support” the Power Authority’s application for a new 50-year federal license for the Niagara hydroelectric project in Lewiston, the systems’ primary power source.  He asked them to keep informed of developments in the Niagara relicensing process and in Washington, where a House-Senate conference committee is working to resolve differing hydro relicensing provisions and other elements of pending energy legislation.

While both the House and Senate bills would reform current procedures for including costly mandatory conditions in hydroelectric licenses, Zeltmann said the House bill would provide a more balanced approach.