A new bill inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” will cost New Yorkers “hundreds of billions of dollars” in higher utility bills due.
That assessment was made by a top energy regulatory official who accused lawmakers of hiding the true cost of the bill.
John Howard, former chairman and current member of the state Public Service Commission (PSC), claimed former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-run legislature never leveled with the public on the costs associated with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) approved in 2019.
Howard, during a recent PSC session, said local pols “totally obfuscated” the costs of the plan because the sticker shock would have made the initiative unpopular.
The law, which Cuomo signed in a ceremony with Al Gore at his side, requires New York to slash greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030 and no less than 85% by 2050 by transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources such as hydropower, solar and wind. The State Climate Action Council, meanwhile, is charged with developing a plan to put the state on a path toward zero carbon emissions.
Lawmakers, Howard said, refused to directly vote to raise taxes to pay for the capital investments required to develop cleaner energy alternatives to fossil fuels — and left the PSC to be the fall guy.
The commission — which regulates power utilities — was tasked with approving rate increases to pay for the capital investments required to comply with the new green-deal inspired law.
Con Edison and other utilities will pass on those costs to customers.
“I hope my colleagues on this commission understand that responsibility falls to us exclusively — to the tune of hundreds, not a couple — but hundreds of billions of dollars,” Howard said during last week’s PSC meeting.
“The legislature, either through its silence or total lack of actions, has given this commission nearly the exclusive responsibility to reach into New Yorkers’ pockets to pay for the CLCPA mandates,” he said.
Howard also warned that the unfunded mandate comes at a time when “our entire state economy is shaky … the upstate economy is shakier.”
Other PSC members — former state Sens. David Valesky and John Maggiore — also warned about relying solely on utility rate hikes to pay for New York’s green new deal.
“The cost of the state’s conversion to green energy far exceeds the ability to finance [solely] through electric bills,” Maggiore said.
Despite such dire warnings by the PSC on the AOC-inspired, Al Gore-approved deal, Aides to Gov. Kathy Hochul and a key lawmaker who helped craft the green energy law slammed Howard as an alarmist.
“It is incorrect and irresponsible to suggest New York ratepayers will be on the hook for the entire cost of our state’s transition to clean energy,” said a spokesperson for the co-chairs of the Climate Action Council, state Department of Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos and NYS Energy Research and Development Authority CEO Doreen Harris.
“What is indisputable is that the cost of inaction is more than $100 billion higher than the cost of investing in a clean energy future,” the spokesperson added.
Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Suffolk), a co-author of the CLCPA, said Howard is a scaremonger.
“It sounds like he’s a bit of an alarmist. He’s got a point of view that is biased toward the status quo. The status quo is costing us billions of dollars,” said Englebright, the state Assembly, environmental conservation chairman.
He noted more frequent violent storms fueled by climate change, for example, are causing massive damage to inland as well as coastal areas of the state.
Hochul recently sided with green new deal booster Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) by killing two carbon-burning natural gas projects in Queens and upstate Newburgh. But the governor is getting flak from union allies for pushing to ban the use of gas for new building construction.