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aescayuga plant120State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo Wednesday urging that the Cayuga Power Plant be closed.  The letter was signed by a coalition of 70 Albany legislators she leads.  Lifton said closing the plant and all coal-fueled plants will benefit New Yorkers by creating new economic opportunities and shutting down a health hazard.

"We urge you to commit to ending coal bailouts and create a state transition plan that provides community and worker assistance tied to coal plant closures, including a comprehensive and thorough decommission and environmental clean-up plan that includes local labor," her letter concludes.  "We stand ready to help you chart a new bold path that enables New York to be a national, renewable energy leader and that provides 1) new 21st century economic development opportunities for our communities and family-wage jobs for New Yorkers."

Lifton says a plan to repower a the Dunkirk plant with natural gas in Western New York will cost ratepayers $215 million, and adds that the agreement authorizes the plant to continue to burn coal.  She says forcing the closure of the Cayuga Plant will save ratepayers $145 million.

The letter outlines four recommendations.  First she urges what she calls 'affordable, common-sense transmission upgrades'.  Second, she urges the State to develop a 'strong state community transition plan' that, among other things would provide transition assistance funding to help mitigate tax revenue loss  to communities like Lansing when their power plants close.

Third, she recommends establishing what she calls a 'next generation Renewable Portfolio Standard' targeting 50% renewable energy production by 2025 that favors offshore and land-based wind power, and other forms of renewable energy production technology.  Fourth, she says the State should recommit to the Green Jobs Green New York Program and reach a goal to reduce energy usage by 20% in the state by 2025.

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) deadline for the final submission of a repowering plan was February 6th.  Upstate New York Power Producers, Inc. (UNYPP), which operates the Cayuga Power Plant, sent a final version of their plan, and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) sent a rebuttal  just before the deadline.

If the plant closes the Lansing School District alone stands to lose $1.27 million of revenue at the current tax rate.  Lansing officials, Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler, and Lifton's counterpart in the state Senate Mike Nozzolio, all argue that jobs, local spending and power delivery reliability are all at risk in addition to the loss of tax revenue.  While many officials, supporters and opponents of the repowering plan expected a quick decision, both the PSC and Cuomo have been mum on the topic.

Lifton notes on her Facebook page that the 70 legislators who signed her letter amount to 1/3 of the New York State Legislature.

"With renewable energy becoming cost-effective when compared to traditional fossil fuels, we cannot continue to ask New York ratepayers to pay for harmful coal-based generation facilities, at costs greater than a transmission line solution," Lifton posted on Facebook Wednesday. "The people of New York deserve a forward looking energy agenda with a viable community transition plan, and I and the 70 signatories to this letter hope the Governor agrees."

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