JAMESTOWN – Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi says the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities is doing what it can to prepare for an ambitious statewide initiative that calls for a transition from fossil fuel-based energy to clean, renewable energy during the next two decades.
In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his “Green New Deal” as part of the state budget that included a mandate that all power generated in the state be 100 percent Clean Power by 2040.
At the end of last month and also earlier this month, city resident and former BPU employee Doug Champ approached the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities and the Jamestown City Council and shared his concerns over what the policy would mean for the BPU and its electric customers. The BPU generates electricity at the behest of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), using the General Electric LM6000 – a natural gas turbine generator. .
During the April 8 Jamestown City Council work session, Champ said the state is already imposing a renewable energy charge on the city for operating the LM6000 and that cost is passed onto customers through the fuel adjustment charge found on their monthly electric bills. He said with the Green New Deal initiative now in play, chances are the state will make it even more costly for the city to utilize its gas turbine, driving up the cost of local electricity even further.
“What’s going to happen in Jamestown – and it’s happening this year – is that [BPU Customers’] fuel adjustment charge is going to be augmented by about $1.5 million of renewable energy costs associated with bringing online more renewable energy,” Champ said. “We’re going to soon be in a position where the cost factor needed to keep the power plant online is going to reach a crisis point.”
Teresi was a recent guest on our April 11 Community Matters program and we asked him to respond to Champ’s concerns. While the mayor acknowledged the concerns and challenges facing the BPU, he also said officials are already looking into and working on several initiatives to ensure the long-term sustainability of the city’s electric division.
“This will definitely have an impact as the cost could be mean up to – right now – about $1.5 million and, moving forward, more,” Teresi said. “Business decisions will have to be made as to what forms of power production we stay in and for how long. And we are currently looking at other things to supplement our power generating process. We are looking at different solar options and wind options to diversify our energy base here in the city.”
Teresi added that the BPU already has contracts in place through NYPA as it pertains to hydroelectricity, which is the main source of renewable energy in the state thanks to Niagara Falls. It also provides approximately 80 to 90 percent of Jamestown’s electricity. As a result, the vast majority of BPU customers’ electricity already comes from a renewable energy source.