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Friday, July 17, 2009

Darrel is plugged in and clearly has juice

Senator Aubertine powers up a biggy for the northern part of his district.

ALBANY (July 17, 2009)—The New York State Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine to create the North Country Power Authority to combine the efforts of 24 municipalities looking to reduce energy costs in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties. This legislation would establish the authority to finance and operate a municipal electric system serving those municipalities.

“These towns and villages have spent more than a decade working to establish a municipal power system to provide low-cost power,” Sen. Aubertine said. “We want to give these communities the opportunity to use this authority to reduce consumer and business expenses, create jobs and help families make ends meet. This authority is necessary step to finance this venture and ensure there are appropriate accountability standards to serve the public. This will save our families and businesses in these towns money on their electric bills.”

Since the late 1990s, the Alliance for Municipal Power, based in Canton, has united the interests of 24 towns and villages, and more than 95 supporting organizations—chambers of commerce, colleges, schools, business development corporations, unions, and more—to work toward a goal of providing low-cost municipal power for economic development and a reduced cost of living for residents. The Senator first introduced similar legislation as an Assemblyman and brought it over to the Senate, where he has garnered bipartisan support for the bill. It passed 48-9 on Thursday.

This legislation to create the North Country Power Authority would provide AMP towns and villages in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties with the ability to explore implementing owning and operating the transmission and distribution of electric power over the next 10 years. This initiative could provide thousands of New Yorkers with significantly reduced rates, more reliable service, and local control. Preliminary studies indicate the annual savings for rate-payers in the millions of dollars, as well as an average system-wide rate reduction of 4 percent.
While towns and villages are allowed by law to form a municipal electric company, the small and rural communities have opted to work together to further reduce costs. AMP’s mission is to establish this regional public power utility through the acquisition and operation of the existing distribution system for communities within the AMP area.

“Today’s passage of the North Country Power Authority Act represents a significant step towards lower rates, energy independence, and better services for AMP communities,” said AMP Chairman Robert Best said. “We want to thank Senator Aubertine and all the sponsors of the bill for their vision and commitment to helping AMP advance New York’s important energy goals.”

AMP Vice Chairman Wade Davis said, “Thanks to the leadership of our local elected representatives in Albany, we are moving closer towards a day we have been working for over many years to significantly reduce rates and provide more reliable service with local control. Towns, Villages, Libraries, Fire Districts, Chambers of Commerce, and many other groups from across the region have signed on in support of our goal. They have spoken and our Senators are listening.”

AMP is comprised of the towns of Bombay, Fort Covington, Moira and Westville in Franklin County, and towns of Brasher, Canton, Colton, DeKalb, Edwards, Fowler, Gouverneur, Hermon, Lisbon, Louisville, Madrid, Norfolk, Pierrepont, Potsdam, Russell, Stockholm, and Waddington and the Villages of Canton, Norwood, and Potsdam in St. Lawrence County.

“I commend Senator Aubertine for spearheading the North Country Power Authority legislation in the Senate,” said Assemblywoman Addie Russell. “Passing the Senate is a critical step toward making the Authority a reality. I will continue to work with the Assembly leadership toward its passage in our house. In addition, I am communicating with the Governor’s office on the merits of this important initiative for the North Country, so that once it has passed the Assembly we are assured that he will sign the bill into law.”

Assemblywoman Russell’s companion bill in the Assembly has not yet been brought to the floor for a vote.