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N.Y. Power Authority President Asks Governmental Units to Save Energy

Stephen Shoenholz

November 4, 2005


WHITE PLAINS—Terming current energy-pricing problems “the most serious we have ever faced in New York State,” New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Eugene W. Zeltmann has urged NYPA’s 115 governmental customers in New York City and Westchester County “to do everything possible to conserve energy this winter.”

“A long winter lies ahead,” Zeltmann said in a Nov. 2 letter to the governmental customers.  “By moving now to conserve energy, you can play a key role in meeting the immediate challenge and in creating a solid foundation for the future.”

Zeltmann said that under Gov. George E. Pataki’s leadership, New York State has promoted ambitious energy-efficiency programs and growing reliance on clean, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. 

“These initiatives are essential not only to combat high costs, but also to help clean our air and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Zeltmann told the NYPA governmental customers, which include such entities as the New York City government, the city’s Housing Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Battery Park City Authority, the Westchester County government and most Westchester municipalities and other public entities.

“I am well aware that energy costs directly influence your ability to provide essential public services and, in some cases, to stabilize tax rates,” Zeltmann wrote. “Aggressive initiatives to conserve energy and to use it more efficiently can lower those costs.”

Zeltmann noted that the Power Authority already carries out extensive energy-efficiency programs for the governmental customers, which use the electricity supplied by NYPA for various public facilities and purposes such as schools and other public buildings, hospitals, museums, street lights and subway and commuter trains.

He said that NYPA thus far has completed energy-efficiency and clean-energy projects at about 1,360 public facilities in New York City and Westchester County, with a total investment of $576 million.  These projects save the governmental customers, and the taxpayers and commuters they serve, about $62 million a year.  They also reduce peak demand for electricity by 107,000 kilowatts—enough to serve about 100,000 homes—and cut annual emissions of greenhouse gases by close to 500,000 tons.

The Power Authority typically recovers its costs by sharing the savings on customers’ energy bills, after which the customers retain all the savings.

Zeltmann said that under new long-term power supply agreements with its governmental customers in New York City, NYPA will provide up to $100 million a year for energy-efficiency and clean-energy projects at public facilities in the city and in Westchester.

Increased electricity prices in New York State, Zeltmann said, are due mainly to high prices for natural gas and oil. The two fuels account for more than 30 percent of the electricity generated in the state, a figure that is about twice the national average.

The letter to the governmental customers was similar to recent energy-conservation appeals by Zeltmann to the state’s 51 municipal electric systems and rural cooperatives, all of which use Power Authority electricity, and to NYPA’s business customers.