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Local Pols Support Port Jefferson’s Complaint Against National Grid

Village accuses the British-owned company of business practices that prevent investment in infrastructure and keep energy prices high on Long Island.

Local elected officials have begun putting their support behind claiming that the energy company is engaging in unfair practices.

In letters written to the FERC, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko, Brookhaven Town Representative Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld and New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright have all said they share the village's concerns.

The filing charges British-owned National Grid with “perpetrating fraudulent practices and illegally exercising market power.” This is the latest action by the village in its campaign to force the company to do something about its aging power plants languishing in towns across Long Island.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant welcomed the support saying that the filing was intended to bring needed attention to the structure of the power market on Long Island.

“This proceeding and its result, if in our favor, will impact the overall price of electricity and result in reducing the cost of energy for everyone on Long Island,” she said in an email to Patch.

In a letter sent out after the Brookhaven Town Board voted on a resolution to officially support the village, Supervisor Lesko called on the FERC to investigate National Grid to see if residents have been harmed by the company’s practices that appear to have “caused and continues to cause quantifiable harm to Long Island customers.”

“We are in support at the Town level,” Fiore-Rosenfeld told Patch after the resolution unanimously passed the board a a recent meeting.

Lesko also asked the commission to fast track the village’s complaint.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone put his name behind the village’s complaint as well saying that electricity prices are directly tied to economic development on Long Island.

“There is no question that the cost of power in Suffolk, third highest in the nation, has a negative impact of substantial proportions,” he wrote in a letter to the FERC. “If the dominant generator of our power is willfully engaged in practices that contribute to massive inefficiency and disproportional emissions, then that dominant market player must be held accountable by FERC.”

He also said that he supports repowering older power plants and that National Grid’s “resistance to repowering and the degree to which that posture weighs on the market efficiency are of concern and warrant FERC’s close scrutiny.”

According to Mayor Garant, if legacy sites are repowered they will become twice as efficient and reduce existing emissions by over 50 percent without building more plants in environmentally sensitive areas or “creating brown fields like Shoreham.”

In its filing, the village has called for a moratorium of an existing Power Supply Agreement (PSA) between National Grid and the Long Island Power Authority, saying it was drafted in the mid-1990s before the needs of the New York energy market were reevaluated by the Public Service Commission to allow for investment in existing power plants, among other changes.

In a previous statement, National Grid has said that the village’s allegations are “without merit.”

“We have managed our Long Island generation assets in a manner that conforms with applicable market rules and regulations," a representative said.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright called the relationship between LIPA and National Grid “unbalanced” and said that the “unfavorable terms of the PSA are left over from a different era, an era of broken markets that supposedly ended with the advent of the current electricity markets.”

“The relationship between National Grid and LIPA is the problem,” Englebright said.

Nassau Taxpayer August 21, 2012 at 03:12 PM
LIPA is clueless and Grid must Go!
Will Museler August 22, 2012 at 02:22 AM
30 years ago LIers had a chance at affordable clean power and they shut it down now they reap what they have sown. What incentive does NGrid have to build infastructure in LI?

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