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North Country senator calls for energy savings account program he says would create jobs, reduce pow

Proposed legislation sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, “would help businesses create jobs, lower energy costs and take advantage of the state’s economic development initiatives,” he said in a news release.

Griffo’s bill would create a new Energy Savings Account program to help larger businesses save on energy costs and promote energy efficiency. An additional bill that he supports would require the state to give small businesses preference when awarding economic development assistance.

“The industrial sector saves more energy-per-program-dollar than any other customer class, but due to the unique needs of large-scale energy customers, larger businesses are often unable to meet the demands or requirements for the state's efficiency incentive programs,” a news release from Griffo’s office says.

He represents the 47th Senate District. It includes a north-south swath through the center of St. Lawrence County, from Pitcairn to Massena, including Potsdam.

Griffo’s bill – S1225 – would “enable industrial, commercial, and other large-scale energy users to create self-directed Energy Savings Accounts to invest in on-site energy-efficient facility improvements and allow them to have more control over rising energy costs,” Griffo said.

The measure allows eligible large energy customers to continue contributing to assessments that fund the state’s energy efficiency programs, but gives them the ability to “bank” that funding into Energy Savings Accounts.

“The money in those accounts would then fund the design, implementation, and verification of energy-saving projects at their own facilities, including wind, solar, geothermal, and anaerobic digestion projects, as well as ‘distributed’ energy resources such as micro grids, roof-top solar, fuel cells and other on-site power supplies and storage. These improvements would help businesses control the impact of future energy rate increases and reduce existing inequities in current energy assessments,” Griffo’s release said.

“This bill would establish the Clean Energy Tech Program to allow large industrial and commercial users of energy to design and create energy efficiencies in their own facilities using various surcharge funds they are required to pay toward the state’s clean energy program,” Griffo said in a prepared statement. “This opportunity to self-direct energy optimization to meet New York's clean energy goals makes sense for these high-energy users that are especially equipped to find the most effective efficiency savings for their particular operations, and I hope the Assembly will follow the Senate in passing this legislation.”

The second bill passed by the Senate with Griffo’s support would require the state’s economic development agencies to give preference to small businesses and entrepreneurs when awarding economic development assistance.

Small businesses make up 98 percent of all businesses in the state, but they are often left out when funds are awarded by state economic development agencies. Larger businesses often have a competitive advantage in accessing state assistance due to having greater levels of resources and in-house expertise,” Griffo’s release said.

This bill – S2138, sponsored by Senator Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park – would direct each state economic development agency to evaluate applications for financial assistance with the goal of ensuring that small businesses and entrepreneurs receive priority consideration in the award of limited state funds. These agencies – including the Department of Economic Development, the Job Development Authority, the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research, and the Urban Development Corporation – together control billions of dollars in state funds targeted for business growth and improvement.

“At a time when the state has limited resources to award for economic development, this legislation would better ensure that smaller businesses get the attention they deserve in determining which companies have the greatest need for assistance to help them fulfill their potential to create new jobs,” Griffo said.

Both bills will now be sent to the Assembly.

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