Why Are Property Taxes In New York So High?

“Consolidating school districts could save New York homeowners — who pay the highest property taxes in the nation — millions of dollars, but surprisingly, some don’t want to hear anything about it, especially if it involves their own school district.” So said Thomas R. Suozzi,  in an article called “Streamline Education Through Consolidation” published in the Saratogian newspaper on Sunday, January 4, 2009. Suozzi is Nassau County Executive and chairman of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief.

New Yorkers pay the highest property taxes in the nation. I just wanted to repeat that so that it sinks in. New York property taxes are 78% higher than the national average. What is wrong with New York?

One of the recommendations that the commission made is to consolidate school districts that have fewer than 1,000 students. I don’t know why they picked that number. It seems to me that it could be done with larger school districts. It should be looked at on a district by district basis. What makes sense?

According to Suozzi, we spend more per student in New York than any other state in America. Suozzi also said that people in the education community and taxpayers like the idea of consolidation, except for communities that would actually be effected. He thinks people worry that schools will be closed and their school identity taken away. Consolidation has nothing to do with that.

Consolidation is about combining the administrative functions of a school district. It means having one school administration instead of two or three. For example, the school district in which I live, Schuylerville has 1,862 students. It could be consolidated with another nearby school district such as Stillwater (1312 students) or Saratoga Springs (6,857students) or possibly all three could be combined. Again, what makes sense?

Each school would retain its individual identity. Property taxes would be lowered due to greater efficiency of the district’s administration. If we can get the job done with one administration instead of three, let’s put that money back in the taxpayer’s pocket where it belongs. We can’t continue to keep doing things the same way just because that’s the way it has always been done. Especially when the citizens of a community can’t afford it.

I moved to New York a few years ago from Hamilton, New Jersey. The school district there has 13,000 students and one superintendent. He does have several assistants. They have 3 high schools, 3 middle schools, 17 elementary schools and one school for special education. The school budget is $182 Million. If you divide that by 13,000 students it comes out to $14,000 per student.

Saratoga Springs has a school budget of $107 Million.  If you divide that by 6,857 students it equals $15,600 per student.

Schuylerville has a school budget of $30.5 Million. If you divide that by 1,862 students it equals $16,380 per student.

I couldn’t find any information about the Stillwater school system budget.

The Town of Saratoga (Schuylerville School system) has a median family income of $48,000. Hamilton, NJ has a median family income of $67,000. The people who can least afford it, pay the most per student. Why is that? I can’t find median family income statistics for Saratoga Springs or Stillwater. If I do, I will update this information.

According to a story on Rnews.com in Rochester, Sharon Sweeney is director of the Four County School Boards Association. She says, “Let’s not punish our schools. They are the one thing New York State still has that attracts businesses to the state.” Oh really? Somehow I find that hard to believe. Name one business that is moving into New York state because of the quality of the schools. More than likely, they are getting a tax break from the state of New York to move here, like AMD and their $1.2 Billion incentive package. They also just got a break on $26 million or so in sales tax while they are building the new plant. That is another story.

Consolidating school districts using commonsense is not punishing our schools. It is using our available tax dollars wisely and giving the overburdened New York taxpayer a well deserved break.

Below are some excerpts from the final report of the Commission on Property Tax Relief. You can read the entire report here. The report is on the Fiscal Policy Institute’s website. You don’t have to read it all at once. If your head starts to spin, just take a break and go back to it later. The report is 94 pages plus 40 pages of supporting documentation. It is an interesting document and very well done. Appendix B contains all of the recommendations of the committee.

High property taxes have the most negative impact on low and moderate income working families, seniors on fixed incomes, and small business owners, who must shoulder this burden regardless of their ability to pay. Whether your concern is decreasing education costs, or increasing education spending, or addressing inequities in school funding, or improving programs, virtually all agree the answer cannot be to continue to increase property taxes at the current rate. The rate of increase in property taxes over recent years is unsustainable, and simply unfair to those who cannot afford to pay.

New York schools outside of New York City spend more per student than any state in the nation – an estimated $18,768 in 2008-09. New York’s per student spending is more than 50 percent above the national average. This results from high personnel costs; the number and complexity of mandates and expense of compliance, especially those that govern special education; and the large number of school districts, many of which are small.

The Commission proposes capping annual growth in the property tax levy at 4 percent or 120 percent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less.

The Commission recommends that, after a property tax levy cap is adopted, the State reexamine the STAR program, which provides payments to school districts with no relation to individual taxpayers’ ability to pay and has failed to effectively reduce property tax growth. A new STAR circuit breaker, targeted to relieve the tax burden on individual taxpayers based upon their income and ability to pay, would be a much more equitable way of reducing an individual’s property tax burden.

The Commission recommends that the State support school districts’ efforts to rein in the costs of salaries, pensions and health care, as well as general operating and capital expenses. These recommendations address the root causes of high property taxes by adopting the following proposed solutions:

Increase health insurance premium contributions by employees and provide health insurance coverage jointly with other public employers or school districts, including increased use of health benefit trusts.

Centralize and streamline school district reporting to decrease personnel and other costs associated with sometimes duplicated and unnecessary forms and other filing requirements.

Require consolidation of school districts with fewer than 1,000 students and grant the Commissioner of Education discretionary authority to order consolidation of school districts with fewer than 2,000 pupils to achieve economies of scale and to increase educational opportunities through expanded course offerings.

Create countywide property tax assessment and uniform statewide assessing standards.

Here are some more excerpts from the final report. I picked out what I think are some important points for those of you who don’t won’t to read the entire document. I recommend that you read the entire document though.

Homeowners are “voting with their feet” – selling their homes and moving to escape the high property tax burden. Indeed, census data consistently show New York leading the nation in the number of residents migrating to other states. Almost universally, we heard that the high property tax burden is one of the State’s most pressing problems – and it is only getting worse.

For example, there are almost 700 distinct school districts in New York State. Approximately 200 of these districts enroll fewer than 1,000 children.

New York State has the highest local taxes in America – 78 percent above the national average. New York’s local taxes also rank far above those of other large states. For example, New Jersey has the next highest level of local taxes, but they are only 18 percent above the national average. New Yorkers pay $84 per $1,000 of personal income in local taxes as compared to the national average of $47. When local taxes are combined with State taxes, New York has the highest tax burden of any large state – 35 percent higher than the U.S. average. It is important to note, however, that State taxes are not a primary cause of this high tax burden. New York ranks only 5 percent above the national average in state taxes (at $73 per $1,000 dollars of personal income). It is New York’s local taxes that are particularly high.

There is a significant disparity between the taxes paid by citizens of New York State, not including New York City, when compared to the rest of the nation. Outside New York City property tax represents the greatest proportion, 76 percent, of local taxes. Outside New York City citizens pay $54 out of every $1,000 of income in property taxes, 56 percent above the national average of $35. Total local taxes are 52 percent above the national average.

While property taxes have increased by a total of nearly 54 percent since 2000, wages have risen by only about 26 percent. This underlines how unaffordable property tax bills have become for typical New York families, which makes the State a very costly place to live.

The average teacher in New York earned $58,873 in 2005-06, the latest period available for comparing New York to other states. While the Commission recognizes that a higher cost of living in New York is a contributing factor, this average salary is 17 percent higher than the national average of $50,379.

Benefits, consisting primarily of health care and pension programs have the largest growth factor of any expense category. Benefits averaged 38 percent of salary expense in 2006-07.

There are approximately 700 school districts in New York State, ranging in size from New York City to districts with fewer than eight teachers. Far too many are quite small. About 200, or approximately 28 percent, had fewer than 1,000 students in 2006-07, and over 500 have fewer than 3,000 pupils. Small districts are not limited to rural areas. On Long Island, where there are almost a half million pupils, over one fifth of the more than 120 school districts have fewer than 1,500 students, with an average district size of under 800 students.

In comparison, Florida’s system of countywide school districts includes only 67 districts, and school districts in that state, and in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia, which also rely exclusively or extensively on countywide school districts, average approximately 40,000, 36,000, 12,000 and 9,000 students respectively.

There are really two New Yorks: the “downstate” region, which includes the New York City metropolitan area, lower Hudson Valley and Long Island, and the “upstate” region. The state’s high ranking in terms of income is due mostly to conditions downstate. In contrast, upstate cities and their surrounding areas have been losing industries, jobs, and population for many decades – nearly a quarter-million people left New York for other states in 2006 alone. Seventy percent of all school districts have declining enrollment. Absolute population declines would have become an overwhelming trend had it not been for a steady influx of immigrants. However, these immigrants settle predominately in the downstate area, where job possibilities are better, with a relatively smaller proportion choosing to settle upstate.

The report contains many detailed recommendations as to what should be done and why, but it doesn’t say who is going to actually do the work. It doesn’t say when or how the recommendations are going to be implemented either.

I hope that members of the New York State Assembly and our State Senators will read this report and begin to act on the recommendations so that New Yorkers can quickly see real property tax relief. What could they be doing that is more important than this?

You can always call them or email them and ask if they have read the report and how soon they are going to act on the recommendations.

If we New Yorkers pay the highest  property taxes in the United States, maybe we should take the advice of the Commission on Property Tax Relief and start consolidating some school districts. Are there any volunteers to go first?

I would really like to know what you think. Leave a comment or send me an email. Thank you.

Note added 10/6/10 The Times Union of Albany recently published a story called New York’s Property Tax Nightmare. It was written by Bob Port and James M. Odato. Thank you Times Union. It is a great article about out of control property taxes. You can read it here: New York’s Property Tax Nightmare

Note added on September 24, 2009: If you do a Google search on “Why are property taxes so high”, this blog post will come up on the first page at number 6. However you found this site, people continue to read this post because I get “hits” on it everyday. A lot of people are concerned about property taxes. If you read the entire post, I would love to read your comments. What state do you call home? What did you think about the post? What answers were you looking for? Did this post answer any of your questions? Thank you in advance. I hope you enjoy the blog post. John Tedder

The Content Of Their Character

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. He was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He died on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Had he lived, he would have been 80 years old on January 15th. In 1964 he won the Nobel Peace Prize and was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year.

Dr. King is remembered for many different things. On August 28, 1963 he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. If you have never heard or seen the entire speech, you should take 20 minutes and do so. It is an inspirational speech, but it also describes a divided America from 40 years ago that didn’t come close to treating African-Americans as real citizens. I am glad that I don’t live in 1963 America anymore. I was 10 years old at the time and didn’t really grasp what was going on, but I’m glad that we have made progress.

I don’t understand how we as a people could have allowed the discrimination and intolerance against African-Americans to go on as long as it did. We fought the Civil War where hundreds of thousands died, to stop the spread of slavery to more states, and then did virtually nothing to actually “free” African-Americans. The Emancipation Proclamation may have freed some slaves on paper, but in reality, did not. African-Americans have been discriminated against in every way possible for more than another 100 years.

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially ended slavery on December 6, 1865.

Dr. King points out in his speech, speaking about the Emancipation Proclamation, “But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.”

That Jim Crow and segregation were allowed to exist at all, much less for as long as they did, is a terrible, painful memory for America. In 2009 America we have made progress towards equality. We have come a long way since 1963. But we are not there yet. As long as there are ignorant little men, we are not there yet.

In his “I See The Promised Land Speech” that he gave in Memphis, Tennessee the night before he died, he tells this story:

“You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?” And I was looking down writing, and I said yes.

And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, you drown in your own blood–that’s the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what the letter said.

But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply, “Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the Whites Plains High School.” She said, “While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”

He ended the speech by saying, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Some people are saying that when Barack Obama takes the oath of office tomorrow, Dr. King’s dream will be achieved. I don’t think so. I think we are still far from it. America still has too many citizens suffering in poverty and despair, without any hope for the future. Too many of our children live with violence and the fear of violence on a daily basis. Discrimination still exists. We are not there yet.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his “I Have a Dream” speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office tomorrow and becomes the 44th President of the United States, it will be because America is a better place now than it was in 1968.

Dr. King was a courageous man. He was as brave as any soldier on a battlefield. He gave his life to free this nation from shameful behavior that divided it.

This country is a better place because of him, the people who marched with him, and the people that supported him.

Bush Still Doesn’t Get It

I didn’t want to write this story, but I just can’t let it go.

Ed Rollins wrote an article for CNN on January 13th, 2009 called, “Commentary: Bush still doesn’t get it.” I agree that Bush still doesn’t get it. The problem is that Ed Rollins still doesn’t get it either.

Rollins is a Republican strategist who was the national chairman of Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign. Take a minute and imagine how horrible you would feel right now if Huckabee was going to be inaugurated next Tuesday instead of Barack Obama.

Rollins says this about Bush in his article, “I don’t believe he is dishonest or an incompetent.” Well Ed, I think he is both.

Bush should have known, and I think he did, that the evidence for weapons of mass destruction was not credible. He should not have invaded another country based on the information that he had. I think that alone is evidence of both incompetence and dishonesty. Saddam Hussein may have been a ruthless dictator, but he wasn’t a threat to the United States.

Scooter Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff,  was convicted in a court of law for one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and lying to the FBI. There is no way that he deserved a pardon from Bush, but that is exactly what Bush did.  Libby did not serve 5 minutes of his 30 month sentence.

Judith Miller, a reporter for the New York Times, spent 12 weeks in jail for refusing to identify sources in this case. She didn’t disclose the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Libby did. The pardon is another example of dishonest and incompetent behavior by Bush.

Rollins brings up the fact that Bill Clinton was impeached. He asks (referring to Clinton and Bush), “Why did their presidencies not live up to those high expectations that we all have for our new leaders on Inauguration Day?”

How dare he compare Clinton to Bush. Comparing Bill Clinton to George Bush is ridiculous and obnoxious. It makes me want to spit. Clinton lied about something that was insignificant and trivial compared to war. Nobody died because of his lie. The impeachment proceedings distracted the president from running the country. What could he have accomplished if he had not been harassed by Congress? When Bill Clinton left office the United States was at peace and had a budget surplus.

Bush’s failures tower over Clinton’s. Bush should have been impeached for invading Iraq. I don’t understand why he wasn’t.

Thousands upon thousands of people have died because of his lies. Thousands more have been grievously wounded. Only Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich has had the courage to present Articles of Impeachment against Bush.

Throughout the article Rollins gives Barack Obama advice about things he should do and how he should do it. Ed, stop giving Barack advice. Stop telling him what he can and can’t do. You are very close to the bottom of the list for people giving Barack advice. You are somewhere down there with Rush Limbaugh.

Rollins says (to Bush), “Thank you, for serving your country.” I say good riddance. We would have been much better off without you.

I can’t wait for Tuesday when Barack Obama takes the oath of office.

P. S.

Barack Obama was asked recently if he would seek an investigation of possible crimes by the Bush administration. He answered, ” I don’t believe that anybody is above the law, but we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

Paul Krugman wrote an article for the New York Times titled, “Forgive and Forget?” He believes that the Obama administration should investigate the crimes committed by the Bush administration. I agree completely.

If we don’t hold the Bush administration accountable for their crimes, then they are above the law.

High Electric Rates In New York, Part II

The citizens of New York State were robbed last year and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is still trying to figure out who did it.

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) manages New York’s electricity grid and administers the wholesale electricity market. They filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in July 2008 saying that one or more market participants, between January and July 2008, scheduled inefficient transmission routes around Lake Erie to avoid paying higher transaction fees for congested routes between New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

The electricity was sent over the New York routes anyway. This scheme had the potential to cause an electricity “blackout” by overloading the power transmission grid.

The transaction costs were then passed on to New York state electric customers. This scheme cost New York rate payers up to $400 million.

I have not been able to find any reference to this scam on the New York Times or the Albany Times Union websites, but I did find several press releases on U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer’s website. As far as I can tell, he is the only person that is following up on this to find out exactly who did it and how much it cost the citizens of New York. You can read excerpts from several of his press releases below. You can read the complete press releases by following the links to Senator Schumer’s website.

In an August 12, 2008 press release, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer “demanded that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission immediately conduct an investigation into an energy trading scam that allowed players in New York State’s energy markets to reap huge profits while passing on sky-high costs to consumers and municipalities.”

“Between the months of January and July of 2008, market traders were using deceptive energy trading practices that slammed consumers with millions of dollars in unnecessary, additional fees and put the state at risk of blackouts.”

“New York State’s energy consumers got ripped off by rogue energy traders who are employing deceptive practices and it must stop immediately,” Schumer said. “From what we know, it wasn’t just a dollar here and a dollar there — these folks may have fleeced New Yorkers out of a quarter billion dollars.”

“FERC’s job is to be the cop on the beat to protect consumers but a loophole is costing us dearly and putting everyone at risk of blackouts. FERC must immediately investigate the market traders’ practices and take swift action to nip this problem in the bud.”

In a September 17, 2008 press release, Senator Schumer called for FERC to “Launch a vigorous public investigation, including full consumer impact: Currently FERC is conducting a closed investigation that has no set conclusion date and precludes third parties from being involved. The investigation must also address key questions like: how much exactly did these schemes cost consumers and whether any laws or tariffs were broken. Schumer urged FERC to investigate how best to seek redress for the consumers.”

“Make no mistake about it, I will not stop until we get to the bottom of this scheme and New Yorkers receive the compensation they deserve,” Schumer said.  “It is the foundation of American justice and due process that investigations of alleged wrong doing be conducted in the light of day, not behind closed doors, and I will press FERC to do just that.”

A November 18, 2008 press release, the latest press release about this on Senator Schumer’s website, went on to say: “Following the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) official closing of energy transmission loopholes that allowed rogue traders to reap tremendous profits, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today said FERC needed to go a step further and conduct an aggressive, public investigation into the energy trading scam that could have bilked New York consumers out of untold millions.”

“While this is a good step forward that slams shut an outrageous loophole, FERC must now get to the bottom of how this happened with a comprehensive and public investigation. Conducting the investigation behind closed doors just won’t do. We need FERC to open up the books and determine both how much this cost New Yorkers and if that money can given back to consumers,” Schumer said.

I think the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) owes the citizens of New York an explanation. Why is this investigation taking so long and why are there no updates from FERC? It seems logical to me that the people who did it are the people who scheduled the route around Lake Erie. Don’t they know who did that yet, and if they don’t know it yet, will they ever be able to determine who it was?

I know a million dollars isn’t what it used to be, but when you put a few hundred of them together, it adds up.

I sent an edited version of my previous post, “Why Are Electric Rates So High In New York?”, in an email to almost every New York State Assembly Member and every New York State Senator. I couldn’t obtain an email address for a handful of them from the state website. I did this last Thursday and Friday. So far, I have only received one real reply. The rest of the replies that I received were automated, canned responses.

The one personal reply that I did receive was from Teresa R. Sayward an Assemblywoman representing the 113th District of Essex, Hamilton, Saratoga, and Warren Counties. Thank you Assemblywoman Sayward.

I would like to hear what you think.

Update on 4/6/09. I sent the following email message to Senator Schumer requesting an update on the FERC investigation:

“Make no mistake about it, I will not stop until we get to the bottom of this scheme and New Yorkers receive the compensation they deserve,” Schumer said.  “It is the foundation of American justice and due process that investigations of alleged wrong doing be conducted in the light of day, not behind closed doors, and I will press FERC to do just that.”

What is going on with this FERC investigation? New York needs our $250 million back.

Why Are Electric Rates So High In New York?

New York State has the third highest residential electric rates in the United States; only Connecticut and Hawaii have higher rates. New York is 19.48 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), Connecticut is 20.24, and Hawaii is 36.94 cents per kWh.

Falls on the Battenkill River near where it meets the Hudson River

The average retail price of electricity for the entire country in September 2008 was 10.31 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).

Rates in New York State are almost twice the national average.

You can see a list of all 50 states and their Residential, Commercial and Industrial average retail price of electricity on the Energy Information Administration website. ( The information on this site is updated monthly. As of November 1, 2009 the data is for July 2009. ) There is a wealth of information on this site, but you have to sort through it.

The information above is from the December 2008 edition of  Electric Power Monthly which is published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Why are electric rates so high in New York State?

According to this Facts about New York page on the EIA website:

New York produces more hydroelectric power than any other state east of the Rocky Mountains. The Robert Moses power plant on the Niagara River is one of the largest hydroelectric facilities in the world.

Although New York’s total energy consumption is among the highest in the United States, per capita energy consumption is among the lowest in the nation due in part to its mass transportation systems in the New York City area.

The average New York household consumes about one-half the electricity of the average U.S. household, largely because few use electricity as their primary energy source for home heating and because demand for air-conditioning is low during typically mild summer months.

One-half the electricity of the average U.S. household? That is an amazing statistic for New York.

So why are our rates so high?

Only Washington State (60,778), California (28,235) and Oregon (26,225) produce more hydroelectric power than New York (20,711). These are year to date numbers in Thousand Megawatt hours. The next 3 highest hydroelectric power producers are Idaho (8,061, Montana (7,672), and Arizona 5,797).

The New York Power Authority (NYPA), “America’s largest state-owned power organization”, according to their website, provides some of the lowest-cost electricity in New York State. That is a pretty vague statement considering New York’s rates are so high to begin with. I have been to the NYPA website and I can’t find their rates anywhere.

NYPA was established by New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1931 to, “give back to the people the water power which is theirs.” I think the people are still waiting for this to happen, 78 years later.

In a February 23, 2005 press release, U.S. Senator Charles. E. Schumer urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reconsider its recent decision to reject Green Island Power Authority’s (GIPA) application to study the Cohoes Falls Project. He went on to say, “I am also very concerned about the fact that 73% of all hydroelectric power generation in New York State, including this plant, is now controlled by foreign companies.”

The hydroelectric power plant in Cohoes, NY is owned by a company based in Canada, Brookfield Renewable Power. Brookfield Renewable Power operates 75 hydroelectric generating stations on 15 rivers in New York State, according to their website.

An organization called Power in the Public Interest (PPI), in Olympia, Washington was “formed to promote state, regional and federal electricity polices that secure for consumers a reliable, affordable and durable electricity system.” Their website has a wealth of information and charts that compare electricity rates in all of the states. It also compares New York state electric rates to “regulated” states. Deregulation of electricity in New York has been a disaster for everyone except the power companies.

One article called “Electricity Price Trends in New York Compared to Trends in Price-Regulated States” uses data from the Energy Information Association up to June 2007. It claims that “for the 12 months ending June 2007,  New Yorker’s paid $22 Billion for their electricity. The same amount of electricity at the regulated states’ average rate would have cost $11.6 Billion—a difference (or comparative purchasing-power disadvantage to New Yorkers) of $10.4 Billion for a twelve month period. This is not to say that deregulation is responsible for the whole gap, or that the gap can be closed. The gap does, however, reveal the significant economic disadvantage suffered by customers in New York, and the imperative for New York to pursue the most effective form of economic regulation of electricity.”

Some of that $10.4 Billion could help close the New York State budget deficit that Governor Paterson is struggling to deal with, but it really should go to the citizens of the state who have been overcharged and abused for so many years.

I urge you to go to the PPI website and read the entire article yourself. Even though it uses data that stops at June 2007, it goes back to 1991 and clearly shows that New Yorkers pay too much for electricity. Based on current prices and rates, I’m sure there would be no difference in this article if it was updated to include September 2008 data.

Here is a link to an article titled, “Will NYPA creep away with another 50 years?” It is subtitled, “18 nauseating facts about NYPA, Niagara and you.” It is interesting reading.

I live within a few miles of three hydroelectric power plants. They are small, but they use the power of the Hudson River, Battenkill River and Fish Creek to generate electricity. Yet I still pay some of the highest electric rates in America.

Dramatically cheaper electric rates would benefit everyone in New York state.  Can anyone explain this to me? Why can’t we have the lowest rates in the country instead of the 3rd highest?

Feel free to email this post to your New York State Assemblyman or Assemblywoman and your State Senator. You can find their email address here. Under State Government, click on Assembly, New York State or Senate, New York State to find your representative.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Be sure to read High Electric Rates in New York, Part II, the next article on this blog.

If you found this post by doing a Google search and didn’t find the answer to your question, let me know what it is and I will try and find the answer for you. You can leave a comment or go to the home page and send me an email directly. Thank you. I appreciate your visit.

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