New York Power Authority logo and link to home page                                                                                                     New York State Energy Research and Development Authority logo 


State Energy Officials Promote Energy Efficiency Programs and Urge Energy Conservation

Stephen Shoenholz, NYPA
Tom Collins, NYSERDA
518-862-1090, Ext. 3250

October 25, 2005


ALBANY—Two of New York State’s top energy officials, Peter R. Smith, president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and Eugene W. Zeltmann,  president and chief executive officer of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), joined forces Tuesday in reaching out to businesses throughout the state to provide information on available programs and methods that will help save energy this winter, as prices for natural gas, heating oil and electricity are expected to rise.

“High prices for natural gas and oil inevitably affect the cost of electricity in New York State,” Zeltmann said.  “These two fuels account for more than 30 percent of the electricity generated in the state, a figure that is about double the national average.  Energy efficiency, which is important for environmental and national security reasons, has now become absolutely critical to businesses in terms of pure economics as we face increases in power costs that could reach crisis proportions.”

“Now, more than ever, it is critical that businesses, like residents, look to the programs, services and energy saving measures that are provided through state and federal government programs to ease the burden this winter,” Smith said. “As we strive to promote renewable energy throughout New York State, it is important that we maximize every opportunity to implement energy efficiency measures that will assist us with our current energy needs and help reduce prices.”

It is forecast that prices for natural gas and heating oil this winter will be more than 30 percent higher than last year. Average costs for electricity on the state’s wholesale markets in September were more than double those of a year earlier, and year-to-date costs through September were 45 percent higher than in the comparable period in 2004.             

Noting that Gov. George E. Pataki has made New York a national leader in energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable resources such as solar and wind power, Smith and Zeltmann said programs and energy saving measures that their authorities offer are in line with the Governor’s vision. They stated that ambitious energy-saving initiatives by businesses would complement those by individual consumers and government agencies as the critical cold-weather period approaches.           

Zeltmann said the Power Authority supplies economical electricity to about 800 businesses and non-profit organizations, helping to protect more than 400,000 jobs in New York State.

“For many of our customers, and for other companies in all parts of the state, energy costs are vital in determining whether they’ll be able to stay and possibly expand in New York or will have to cut back, leave the state or go out of business,” he said.  “The problem is particularly acute for industries relying on natural gas in their manufacturing processes and as a fuel for electricity, since they get hit twice by high gas prices.”

Zeltmann said the price of electricity on New York State markets is set by the cost of the most-expensive energy required to meet overall system needs, putting a premium on reducing use at times of greatest demand.

“In most cases, an additional power plant that has to run to meet peak needs will be fueled by expensive natural gas or oil,” he said. “So by saving energy, or shifting some of their use to off-peak periods, businesses can contribute significantly to lowering costs and ensuring a reliable power supply.”

Smith said NYSERDA offers several programs, as part of the New York Energy $martSM initiative, that can minimize the effects of cold weather on businesses’ energy costs.  These include:

The Energy Audit Program, which helps companies identify measures to save electricity, implement energy efficiency strategies and make informed decisions about electricity use.

The Technical Assistance Program, which allows businesses to choose engineering firms to develop and provide customized, cost-effective energy efficiency measures.

The FlexTech Program, which uses more than 30 pre-selected engineering firms to provide customized assistance under the Technical Assistance Program.

The Commercial and Industrial Performance Program, which offers financial incentives, based on performance, to contractors implementing cost-effective measures to promote efficient use of electricity or demand-reduction for eligible customers.  Among the measures are efficient lighting and motors, variable-speed drives, energy management systems and packaged air conditioning and chillers.

Smith said businesses can also take various actions on their own, with full paybacks typical in two to three years. These actions range from installing energy efficient light bulbs and exit signs to weather stripping doors, inspecting ventilation systems and activating power saving features on office equipment.

Zeltmann said the Power Authority and NYSERDA are working closely with Governor Pataki and other state agencies to promote energy efficiency.

He noted that NYPA, NYSERDA and the state Consumer Protection Board, along with National Grid, will sponsor a free Energy Expo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the

Dr. Charles R. Drew Magnet School in Buffalo.  Vendors and other energy professionals will provide advice on such subjects as home and business energy audits, lighting, weatherizing and lowering energy bills. A similar event in Saranac Lake on Sept. 17 attracted more than 300 people.

Zeltmann also cited NYPA’s extensive energy efficiency programs for schools and other public facilities in New York State. He said projects completed at about 2,350 facilities have cut demand for electricity by more than 190,000 kilowatts while saving taxpayers more than $90 million a year on electricity bills and reducing annual emissions of greenhouse gases by about 712,000 tons.