ALBANY, N.Y. -- Upstate legislators are opposing a plan to build an electricity transmission line from Canada to New York City, claiming the proposal to import lower-cost hydroelectric power would cost New York jobs.
The 13 Republicans and one Democrat say the 330-mile power line from Quebec would make New York more reliant on other countries for energy at the expense of its own power industry.
"Our state’s resources should be used to create jobs in New York, rather than export them to a foreign country," wrote the senators, led by Sen. George Maziarz, of hydropower-rich Niagara County.
The Republican said he doesn’t believe the Quebec line would save any money.
"They are going to come in and lower the energy cost, then once they put all of the upstate generators out of business, then the cost goes up," Maziarz said in an interview.
The state Public Service Commission, which regulates energy transmission and generation, is expected to act upon the Champlain-Hudson Power Express proposal within weeks. Comments, such as those submitted by the senators, will be accepted before Sept. 7, commission spokesman James Denn said.
The project, proposed by Albany-based Transmission Developers Inc. and two years in the making with the administration of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is aimed at saving about 2 percent to 3 percent on energy bills in New York City, where power is most expensive and most urgently needed.
About half the energy will be used in New York City, but Transmission Developers CEO Donald Jessome said ratepayers will see price breaks from Long Island to the Albany area. Long Island and the northern suburbs will each get about 20 percent of the lower-cost energy while the Albany area will get about 10 percent, he said.
The company projects about 2,400 jobs could be created in the private sector each year because of the energy savings that could then be spent by companies and individuals. In addition, the private company’s investment means the state won’t have to spend as much taxpayer money on transmission lines, Jessome said.
The senators’ letter to Cuomo is a rare critique from within the Senate’s Republican majority, which has been Cuomo’s critical ally in fiscal issues. Cuomo didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday.
The $2 billion transmission line proposal promises to reduce power plant air pollution in New York City while easing energy costs in the city and making the state less bound to the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County. Cuomo has said he wants to close the aging nuclear plant, but he needs to replace the vast amount of energy it produces.
The line would run under the Hudson River and underground to carry energy to New York City, where the need for power is increasing and the cost is among the highest in the nation.
The Independent Power Producers of New York trade group favors updating New York City power stations instead of installing the transmission line, which it calls an "extension cord." Gavin Donohue, the group’s chief executive, said New York has 40-year-old plants and 80-year-old transmission lines in need of repair or replacement to keep local jobs.
The opposition fits the Republican mantra in the fall elections of focusing on New York jobs.
Also signing onto the opposition letter were Republican Sens. Patrick Gallivan, Timothy Kennedy, Thomas Libous, Michael Ranzenhofer, Joseph Griffo, William Larkin, Roy McDonald, Thomas O’Mara, Patricia Ritchie, Catharine Young, Michael Nozzolio, and Greg Ball. Sen. David Valesky, of the Independent Democratic Conference, also joined.