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Issues

2013-2014 Executive Budget

Governor Cuomo’s third Executive Budget proposal, released January 22, attempts to close an estimated $1.35 billion deficit for the 2103-2014 fiscal year. The overall $142.6 billion budget includes $6 billion from the federal government for post-Sandy relief and the start-up of the federal health care program.

As expected, the Executive Budget contains numerous Hurricane Sandy initiatives, including many recommendations set forth by the four commissions established post-Sandy and outlined by Cuomo in his State of the State address earlier this month.  A total of $51 billion is dedicated to pay for disaster-related recovery, rebuilding, and mitigation measures which includes $30 billion in Federal aid. Over the next year, $3.6 billion in federal aid will be spent on Sandy-related projects.


Hurricane Sandy-related initiatives include:

  • strengthening the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) oversight and enforcement capabilities
  • hardening electric distribution infrastructure
  • energy sector workforce training
  • specialized training for the National Guard in power restoration
  • a new emergency communications portal to access information such as outages
  • implementing universal protocols to improve coordination amongst emergency responders
  • stockpiling supplies
  • establishing a vulnerable persons database.

Privatization of the Long Island Power Authority was also referenced; however, specific details of the plan have not been provided.

In addition to Hurricane Sandy items, the 2013-2014 Executive Budget contained several energy-related initiatives including a five-year extension of the 18-a assessment, $1 billion Green Bank, expansion of the NY SUN Solar Program, the Charge NY Program to expand deployment of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs), and additional funding for the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program and the Environmental Protection Fund.

Further information can be found here in the budget briefing book and in the Governor’s press release


Hurricane Sandy

Strengthening the Public Service Commission

Expand the authority of the PSC to, among other things, (i) initiate administrative proceedings to recover civil penalties against each public utility company and obtain increased penalties to ensure adequate deterrence, (ii) review the performance of each company to provide safe and adequate service and order appropriate relief in the context of such review, (iii) formerly review each company’s emergency response plan and initiate proceedings regarding compliance with such plan, and (iv) require each company to file a report in connection with a management and operations audit detailing how it intends to implement such audit and to make such plan enforceable upon the PSC’s approval. DPS will increase staffing to achieve these objectives.

Additionally, DPS and NYSERDA staff functions will be streamlined to coordinate State energy policy.

Hardening Electric Distribution Infrastructure

No further detail has been provided at this time.
 

Energy Sector Workforce Training

The new program will seek to ensure availability of skilled professionals to quickly diagnose and replace damaged components and maintain a state of good repair.


Specialized Training for the National Guard

Training will be provided in key emergency response categories such as power restoration, search and rescue, heavy equipment operation, and crowd management. During Sandy, more than 4,500 Guard members provided relief and accelerated the recovery. With additional training and skills, these Guard members can have an even greater impact when responding to disasters.


A “Resilient Information System”

Existing mobile messaging and social networking technologies will be leveraged to integrate disaster planning, preparedness and response. This will include “NY-TEXT”, a program to allow mass text messages to be sent to all wireless phones in a chosen area, and a communications portal through which the public can access information on service outages, disaster preparedness tips and, following a disaster, resources for finding and requesting financial and other assistance.


Universal Protocols for Emergency Response.

To improve coordination among State and local emergency response professionals, the State will provide training for key officials from local emergency management operations. The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) will collaborate with SUNY to develop a training program which covers incident command, response, recovery, and State emergency protocols. Those completing training will be certified by the State, and would maintain that certification through a multi-year renewal process and ongoing training.


Pre-positioned Stockpiles of Essential Equipment

Critical equipment such as generators, water tankers, chainsaws, piping, light towers, and pumps will be purchased and pre-positioned in anticipation of the next emergency.


Establishment of Vulnerable Population Databases

First responders, outreach workers, and healthcare and human services personnel will have access to information to help find and serve those who may need assistance.


Other Initiatives

Extension of 18-a Assessment

Extends the Temporary Utility Assessment for 5 years, until March 31, 2019. Originally enacted in 2009, the assessment was scheduled to expire in March 2014. The Assessment is levied on electric, gas, steam, and water utilities.


Green Bank

The $1 billion Green Bank, consisting primarily of NYSERDA and NYPA resources, will utilize financing mechanisms to leverage public dollars with a private sector match to spur the clean economy.


NY SUN Solar Program

The New York Sun Solar program, primarily funded by NYSERDA with RPS dollars, will be expanded to $150 million annually for 10 years in an effort to increase solar panel installations for homes and businesses and to provide long-term certainty to solar developers and installers.


Charge NY Program

Funded by NYPA, NYSERDA and a New York State tax credit, this program will invest in a network of electric car charging stations by providing grants and tax credits for charging infrastructure. The nonrefundable tax credit would be for the purchase of electric vehicle recharging property which includes all the equipment needed to convey electric power from the electric grid or another power source to an onboard vehicle charger.


Cleaner, Greener Communities Program

Includes $25 million in funding to support a competitive grant program administered by NYSERDA and designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy, and benefit the State’s economy. Grants will be provided to private, not-for-profit, and municipal entities and will support a variety of purposes, including energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. $10 million will be dedicated to new projects.

 

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