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Refusal to OK natural gas infrastructure hurts economy

Some of the most pressing challenges facing New York may share a common solution.

Regions across the state are in desperate need of quality, well-paying jobs. At the same time, our aging energy infrastructure is being pushed to the breaking point under the ever-increasing demands of consumers and businesses. Add to the mix that our economic advancement requires affordable and reliable energy, and it’s clear that bold action is needed.  Expanding access to affordable energy cuts to the heart of all three challenges and has the potential for a multiplier effect — strengthening the state’s economy, reducing electric bills and serving as a catalyst for sustained job growth.

To help drive attention to this critical issue, labor, business and community leaders from across New York have formed a coalition called New Yorkers for Affordable Energy. Together, we will promote the expansion of natural gas as a source of affordable, reliable energy and a key driver in helping to attract businesses and grow jobs in New York.

New York state energy policy is at a crossroads. Demand for natural gas keeps growing, as more households, businesses and electric generators shift to clean, affordable natural gas. Natural gas complements renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, adding reliability to the power grid.  Natural gas is already playing a key role in our economy by supplying reliable, affordable energy to New Yorkers. In fact, the entity responsible for managing the state’s electric grid, the New York Independent System Operator, credits low natural gas costs for driving record low wholesale electricity prices.

Lower cost and lower emissions are driving a surge in demand for natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas demand is projected to increase 40 percent nationally over the next 10 years — double the growth of the past 10 years.

Despite the tremendous growth in demand for natural gas, New York hasn’t added enough natural gas pipeline capacity. The increased use of natural gas by households, businesses and electric generators has strained current natural gas infrastructure, resulting in occasional curtailments of supply.

At a time when our region needs good jobs, the state’s stubborn refusal to allow natural gas infrastructure projects to move forward is stifling economic growth. A report issued recently by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce details the impact to New York’s economy if the region continues to stall much-needed energy infrastructure projects. Over the next four years, this status quo will result in a loss of 17,400 jobs and $1.6 billion out of the state’s economy.

New York needs access to affordable energy to power its economy, but meeting this growing demand will take a significant investment in our aging energy infrastructure. Making this critical investment now will ensure that we can sustain the state’s economic growth well into the future.  Energy infrastructure is an investment that will pay dividends for years to come — more jobs, more economic activity, more private investment and more money back into the economy. That’s why the Business Council of New York is proud to stand with labor and community leaders from across the state to expand access to reliable, affordable energy for New Yorkers.

Heather Briccetti is president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State Inc.

(c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-363-7269 or email madams@bridgetowermedia.com.

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