Power producers in the Empire State are preparing to make a full-court press after this November’s elections to get New York State lawmakers to reinstate a power plant siting law that expired at the end of 2002, the CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY) told NGI.

The state’s so-called “Article X” power plant siting law provided a streamlined process to review, approve and locate new power plants in New York. Arguing for the reinstatement of Article X this spring, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) noted that while demand has flattened in upstate New York, New York City and Long Island remain areas where demand is outpacing the construction of new supply sources.

“Maybe things will change after this election,” said Gavin Donohue, IPPNY’s CEO, in reference to the state renewing Article X. “So we’re hoping post-election day to make a really strong push to try to get this thing done.”

Noting that New York lawmakers have plans to “come back into town Nov. 18,” Donohue said that “a lot of strange things happen in Albany between the election and a sitting legislature before a new one comes in. I am not overly optimistic,” he said, noting that “this is a politically charged issue. Energy, environmental protection, all those issues together, are just very charged up.”

Donohue laid out the case why Article X should be reinstated. He said that the power industry has become “more optimistic. I sense people are looking at doing more development projects and we have no mechanism in New York to site plants.”

Moreover, electric utilities in New York are issuing requests for proposals for power supplies, but the lack of a siting law hobbles that process, he said. “A number of the utilities and authorities are looking for generators to come in and bid on capacity, and if we don’t have a mechanism to site the plants, it makes the proposals less competitive because it limits who can bid on them,” Donohue said.

He said that there are “developers that would like to come to New York to do business,” especially in light of the capacity crunch facing the Big Apple and Long Island. “Unfortunately, because of the way New York’s laws are set up, if there’s a local veto and a local government says no, the project is halted, so that’s why Article X” is needed.

“I see people saying, ‘OK, New York when are you going to get your act together,’ because what’s happened is developers I talk to look at Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states and there’s a mechanism in place for them to go site plants because their siting law never expired.”

A “not in my backyard” mind set has played a key role in explaining why there hasn’t been a greater sense of urgency to reinstate Article X, Donohue said.

He stressed the need for officeholders in the state to look beyond short-term assurances of adequate supply resources. “When they hear — ‘Oh, we’re going to be OK this summer, we have enough capacity,’ then it’s one less problem” for them to worry about, Donohue noted.

“It takes some political leadership to recognize that building power plants the way we need to build them like other states have takes leadership and foresight and to sit there and just not allow it to happen is ridiculous because you can’t turn around six months from now and say, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to have a shortage’ and expect to be able to meet our demand. You can’t build these plants in two months…you’re looking at 17 months to two years just to get through the regulatory process.”

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