Bill a fair way to pay for lake’s costs

While it is fair for the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District to recoup some of its operating costs from Great Sacandaga Lake access permit holders (like me), it certainly isn’t fair for county taxpayers in just five counties to fund most of the GSL’s operation and maintenence costs due to the shortfall created by a federal court’s decision that reduced headwater benefits charges assessed on downstream hydropower plants by New York state.

In my opinion, the Assembly bill – which essentially abolishes the regulating district and shifts its authority over the GSL to the New York Power Authority -? and its identical state Senate version resolves this situation in an equitable fashion by essentially replacing a property tax limited to five counties with what is essentially a statewide tax on electricity consumption by end users.

Excluding some out-of-state sales, most of NYPA’s electricity is ultimately consumed by millions of New York state ratepayers who would then pay for the lake’s expenses through their electric bills, either indirectly or directly. (An example of a direct charge would be the SBC/RPS charge on a consumer’s monthly bill that funds the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs.) Since there are several times as many electricity ratepayers in this state than property owners in the five affected counties (Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Rensselaer and Albany) most, if not all, of those property owners who have been paying for flood-control benefits through their county property taxes will see the decrease in their property taxes more than offset any increase in their annual electricity expenditures. According to my calculations, the average electricity consumer will see an annual increase in the single-digit dollar amount.

Finally, by consolidating HRBRRD’s assets and operations into NYPA, NYPA, on behalf of the people of New York state, is in a stronger position to acquire the E.J. West hydroelectric station at the Conklingville dam at some future date, since it makes more regulatory and economic sense to have one entity control the GSL water level than to have one entity (basically the state) own the lake and have to coordinate level control operations with the foreign owner (Brookfield Power, a Canadian organization) of the hydroelectric station.

In conclusion and for the reasons given above, I support the passage of Assembly Bill A09650 and its Senate counterpart.