Our Position on Energy Infrastructure in NYS – 2018 Advocacy Defined Series

The safe and efficient movement of goods, services and people is at the core of our economy. Government at all levels must be willing to prioritize critical long-term investments, as well as support private projects producing real economic benefit. Included in this is upgrading New York’s aging power grid and developing the state’s natural gas transmission system. Both priorities are a part of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s 2018 Advocacy Agenda.

As the Buffalo Niagara region continues to strengthen our manufacturing base and attract new high-tech businesses, access to affordable and reliable energy is vital to supporting our economic revival. However, New York State is fast approaching a crisis in energy infrastructure. The state has more than 11,000 circuit-miles of transmission lines. Of that 11,000 miles, nearly 4,700 will need replacing in the next 30-years at an estimated cost of $25 billion. While the cost may appear high, a report issued in 20016 by Southwest Power Pool, an entity which oversees the bulk electric grid and wholesale power market in the central United States, estimated that energy infrastructure investment yields a benefit-to-cost ratio of 3.5. Meaning that for every dollar spent on energy infrastructure a benefit of $3.50 is returned. Further, improving the delivery of power by replacing the existing system of antiquated transmission lines has the potential to reduce congestion, lower electricity costs, and reduce emissions that harm the environment.

Long term investment is needed for not only New York’s power gird but also for the state’s natural gas transmission system. In 2016, New York residential and commercial customers paid nearly 40% more than the national average for electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Natural Gas Intelligence. This increased cost is due, in part, to a failure to invest in the efficient and reliable natural gas transmission. Power plants fueled primarily by natural gas account for more than half of the electric generating capacity in New York State.  An increased investment in natural gas will allow for the more efficient movement of gas from Pennsylvania through New York and to other markets. It will improve reliability and has the potential to exponentially drop that 40% figure.

Gas pipeline with construction workers

Upgrading the natural gas transmission system will also spur investment and job creation. It is estimated that two proposed pipelines, the Northern Access Project and the Constitution Pipeline, could lead to one billion dollars in private investment while creating nearly 3,000 jobs during construction and hundreds upon completion of the pipelines. Further it is estimated that the Northern Access Project alone would generate $11.8 million annual tax revenue in New York.

Upgrading New York’s aging power grid and developing the state’s natural gas transmission system is imperative in supporting the economic growth of the Buffalo Niagara region. Reliable and affordable energy is essential for our region to be able to attract new businesses and support our current job creators.  The time to invest in our energy infrastructure is now.

2018 Advocacy Defined Blog Series Table of Contents: