Cheap power is being offered by the state through its ReCharge New York program to dozens of companies in the Capital Region, with some of the largest shares going to General Electric, Finch Paper and SCA Tissues North America.
The list of 517 businesses and not-for-profit groups selected to receive a total of 600 megawatts of power was announced Tuesday by the New York Power Authority, which culled its list from 1,000 applicants. The program is a variation of the expiring Power for Jobs programs and is designed to be more effective in spurring economic development by having more predictability and longer-term contracts — up to seven years. ReCharge NY goes into effect on July 1.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a news release said the program is part of the state’s emphasis on fostering a friendly business climate. “ReCharge New York is the latest evidence that New York is indeed open for business,” he said.
Jim Bender, general manager for the Cobleskill-based Mill Services, was notified of his company’s selection on Wednesday morning and called it welcome news. “It makes a big difference,” he said. “Other then our payroll, our energy bill is the highest bill we pay.”
The company had previously participated in Power for Jobs, under which it got 300 kilowatts. The new program will offer it 176 kilowatts, but Bender said that was better than nothing and felt the predictability of the new program could end up being a benefit.
“Power for Jobs would run out and then you wouldn’t get it for three or four months, and then they would go back and retroactively take care of you,” he said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, he was still debating what kind of power his company would utilize through the program, although he planned on participating. Bender said it would be “foolish” not to take advantage of the program and noted that he had about 70 employees whose jobs depended on the savings from the program. “We’re trying to keep them working,” he said.
In Schenectady County, the SI Group was selected to receive 1,850 kilowatts. Spokeswoman Juliana Dreweck said the company was glad Cuomo had extended the low-cost power program, as SI had previously participated in the Power for Jobs program.
“We’re happy about this, because we can stay competitive this way,” she said. “These savings are very valuable for us.”
Even small amounts of low-cost power can be beneficial, as is the case with the Schoharie County manufacturing company AMT. It had been selected to receive 60 kilowatts of power, which company General Manager Scott Stevens said would cover a majority of the power used by one of the large compressors that supplies air throughout their plant.
“The program will definitely have an impact, but we don’t know what it means yet,” he said, explaining that details were still coming in.
Stevens added, “It’s definitely something that can help. Whenever you have a program that saves you money it can then be reinvested.”
AMT is one of the 258 companies that will become new customers of the New York Power Authority, as it didn’t take part in the Power for Jobs program.
General Electric’s Schenectady facility is another site new to the program and is set to receive 6,630 kilowatts. Another new customer is SCA Tissue North America, which has two locations in Saratoga County that will be offered a total of 5,886 kilowatts.
Finch Paper in Glens Falls, a former customer of Power for Jobs, is tied for the most power in the Capital Region, with 10,000 kilowatts.
The power authority selection process was aided by the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils, which helped score proposals that were submitted last fall. The evaluation of the applications included a review of whether the companies fit the councils’ regional plans, their role in the local economy and commitment to energy efficiency.
The breakdown of the 600 megawatts included 350 megawatts for upstate businesses, 200 megawatts to attract new businesses or to encourage business expansion and 100 megawatts for not-for-profit organizations.
Additional power allotments under ReCharge NY are expected in the coming months, with about 300 megawatts of power left to distribute.
A full list of local programs can be found on The Gazette’s political blog, Capital Region Scene, at DailyGazette.com.
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