New York power prices jump 12 per cent

ALBANY, NEW YORK - New York’s power costs — long among the nation’s highest — have risen at a pace nearly twice the national average in the past year, according to a state Business Council study.

The cost of electricity in the state grew by about 12 percent from March 2006 to March 2007, the council’s Public Policy Institute reported.

New York manufacturers paid the 12th highest rates in the country, while New York residential rates are now 62 percent above the national average, according to the report.

“It’s because of coal,” said council spokesman Matthew Maguire.

“New York state, compared to the nation, relies very heavily on natural gas for generation and relatively little on coal,” Maguire said. “In recent years the price of coal has been relatively stable and the price of natural gas has been going up.”

The report comes as Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the state Legislature seek to reduce energy costs for businesses and to create a fast-track approval system for new power plants to increase supply.

A major sticking point, however, remains coal. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is pushing for the use of what he calls “clean coal,” a reference to new technology that results in less polluting emissions than traditional coal-burning power plants.

But Spitzer isn’t sold on the newer technology, especially as he works to cut the emissions that contribute to global warming. He is pushing technology cleaner than even new coal processes.

NRG Energy has building a new clean coal power plant at the existing coal-fired Huntley Station in the Town of Tonawanda, but the company still is working on ways to make the project economically viable. The Erie County Industrial Development Agency approved tax breaks for the project earlier in July.


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