Power Authority Chairman Urges MEUA
to Join Hydro Relicensing Reform Fight
Mr. Seymour's remarks
August 28, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NIAGARA FALLSCiting a long history of joint interest in hydroelectric issues,
Joseph J. Seymour, chairman and chief executive officer of the New York Power Authority,
Tuesday night urged members of the state's Municipal Electric Utilities Association (MEUA)
to join the fight for reform in federal relicensing procedures.
Speaking at the MEUA's annual meeting at the Holiday Inn Select here, Seymour told the
delegates, "The Power Authority strongly urges you to join us in supporting
legislative reform of the hydro relicensing process."
Seymour cited the push for an effective relicensing bill in Congress as a major example
of how the Power Authority and the MEUA can cooperate in achieving common goals.
He said the Power Authority, under Gov. George E. Patakis leadership, looks
forward to working with the MEUA "to meet your needs and to draw on your expertise
and support as we confront issues of mutual concern."
With respect to relicensing, he said that current law could result in lengthy delays
and significant additional costs that could translate into higher rates for electricity.
"In 1986," he said, "the Federal Power Act was amended to require the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to balance power generation with energy conservation,
protection of fish and wildlife, recreational opportunities and environmental protection.
"While the goal was to accommodate competing interests, the Commission's role has
been seriously impacted by past legislation and by subsequent interpretations of the law
by the courts," said Seymour. "The current law enables various agencies to
impose on licensees huge unfunded conditions with little or no balancing as contemplated
by the Federal Power Act."
Seymour also encouraged a renewed emphasis on economic development, using an existing
Power Authority program to create jobs in the communities served by municipal systems.
"A total of 108 megawattshalf hydropower and the rest from other
sourceswas initially available for allocation to you for job creation in your
service territories," said Seymour. "I understand that only 30 megawatts have
been allocated thus far. There's obviously a lot more that could be done. Let me urge you
to take advantage of this program."
Citing the importance of low-cost electricity to job creation and protection, Seymour
noted that nearly 450,000 jobs throughout the state now depend on Power Authority
electricity supplied under Governor Patakis Power for Jobs program and other
"Power for Jobs is just one very important way in which the Power Authority is
working with Governor Pataki to help ease the path to a deregulated power industry in New
York State," Seymour said.
He also noted the Power Authoritys installation, at its Marcy Substation near
Utica, of the world's most advanced device for controlling flows on electric
transmission lines and its ambitious energy efficiency programs.
"This year, were investing more than $100 million in energy efficiency
programs and clean, new energy sources," Seymour said. "Thats more than 2
˝ times the figure for 1994the year before Governor Pataki took office."
In discussing public power, Seymour noted his own background of growing up in a
community that had a municipal electric system—Ilion in Herkimer County.
"After having lived in other places where electric rates are as much as five times
what your customers are paying, I realize how good I had itthanks to public
power," he said.
Seymour reminded the delegates that public power has been under increasing scrutiny
since deregulation in the electric industry began.
"Early on, some were forecasting the death of public power. They assumed that
lower prices anticipated under deregulation and competition would ease us out of the
picture," said Seymour. "But now," he said, "people are finding that
public power has a great deal to offer in a deregulated marketplace."
He noted that "California created a state power authority as a potential solution
to the state's energy problems, though they're about 70 years behind us."