Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityAs Amazon gets low-cost power, New Yorkers ask: 'When will we?' | WRGB
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As Amazon gets low-cost power, New Yorkers ask: 'When will we?'

Amazon in Niagara will receive low cost energy (WRGB)
Amazon in Niagara will receive low cost energy (WRGB)
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New Yorkers say their energy bills have risen dramatically in recent years, often impacting their entire lives. Now, officials are saying the transition to 70 percent electricity in 2030, along with some of the State's aggressive zero-emission benchmarks, will have more of an impact on residents' energy bills.

"A couple years ago, my house, a 3 bedroom apartment, was 80 dollars [for an energy bill]. Now I'm looking closer to $400," Watervliet resident Amalia Melendez says. "My fiancee had to pick up a second job, and it's not just our energy. It's just ridiculous. It's at my place of business too."

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In March, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced economic development awards for 22 different organizations, saying it would inspire more than $20 billion in capital investments and support more than 8,000 jobs.

While 20 New York businesses could be impacted through varying levels of New York Power Allocation recommendations, two major United States companies were also included in the announcement, Micron and Amazon.

"We don't think it's appropriate for an institution that's supposed to be supporting the public good to be providing massively discounted rates to one of the richest companies in the world," Patrick Robbins of the Public Power NY Coalition says. "If that low-cost electricity was going to your household or my household, that is a much better use of NYPA's power."

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Amazon was approved for a nearly 10.7-megawatt low-cost Niagara Power Project allocation for its $550 million storage and distribution center in the Town of Niagara. Niagara hydropower is available for companies within a 30-mile radius. Micron, which will be based in Central New York, was awarded 140-megawatts of low-cost power from NYPA.

"You have businesses in other areas that are getting ridiculous energy breaks, and there's nothing for people that can't afford their bills," Melendez says. "I work for a very large company and we're not getting any breaks like that, and we support the downtown area [of Troy]."

In her 2024 Budget Proposal, Governor Hochul wants to allocate $200 million to provide energy bill relief for New Yorkers making less than the State's median income. But, lawmakers believe they have a more permanent solution in the New York Public Renewables Act, which requires the New York Power Authority to provide renewable energy to customers, and would be the sole provider for energy to all state owned and municipal properties.

"NYPA could replace all of its peak power plants and fossil fuel generation and build out excess renewable energy to sell to people all over the state," Robbins, citing a recent study, says. "Instead of harming people's pocketbooks, it would actually save New Yorkers $1.2 billion, and create 5,000 to 8,000 high quality jobs per year all the way through 2035."

The bill passed the Senate 38-25, and now is in committee with the Assembly, who would send it to the Governor's desk upon approval. But, there are some stakeholders against the legislation, including NYPA's Interim President and CEO Justin Driscoll. He addressed it at a Hearing surrounding the role of State Authorities in Renewable Energy Development in July 2022.

"The bill's mandates like those directing NYPA to develop renewable energy projects, and provide energy services, and imposing limits on what NYPA may charge for power, are simply unworkable," Driscoll told the committee.

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This comes as the State Budget, along with the proposed State zero-emission benchmarks, is currently late, with the climate becoming one of the key issues in negotiations.

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