Calling it a linchpin for New York's economy, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Thursday signed into law a bill expanding electricity incentives for employers.
The Recharge New York law replaces the Power for Jobs and Energy Cost Savings Benefit programs, both of which reduce the utility bills of companies, hospitals and other not-for-profit organizations. The savings is in return for pledges to create jobs and invest in buildings and equipment. The new program begins July 2012.
About 500 employers, with a combined workforce of more than 320,000 statewide, participate in Power for Jobs and Energy Cost Savings.
On Long Island, there are more than 50 participants with a total payroll exceeding 34,600 people. It's a diverse group that includes Adecco Inc. in Melville, Crescent Duck Farm in Aquebogue and Standard Microsystems Corp. in Hauppauge.
The "vast majority" of current participants would likely qualify for Recharge New York, said a top administration official who requested anonymity. However, the energy savings could change based on an employer's job commitment, investment plans and competition from others wanting to get into the program, the official added.
If an employer no longer qualifies, they would gradually lose the savings over four years.
The law doubles to 910 megawatts the amount of cheap electricity available to companies and not-for-profit groups by ending allocations to upstate homeowners and farms.
At a ceremony near Buffalo, Cuomo said Recharge New York "will make a major difference for businesses. It was a long time coming," he said, referring to six years of Albany gridlock over extending other power programs.
"Recharge New York is all about reducing the cost of power for businesses so they stay, they grow, they locate in New York," Cuomo said at the Ascension Industries factory in North Tonawanda. "Recharge New York reduces the cost of power by up to 75 percent."
The governor and others said the state has the third-highest electric costs in the country. The new program cuts an employer's bill over the life of a seven-year contract with the state-run New York Power Authority. The authority, led by Long Islander Richard Kessel, referred questions to Cuomo Thursday.
Area employers praised the new law.
The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System receives $2 million a year in rebates for two of its 13 hospitals. Energy manager Frank E. Porretto said he hopes more North Shore-LIJ facilities will qualify for savings.
He also said the seven-year contract was "a vast improvement" over the one-year agreements used recently because the legislature and three governors failed to agree on the power programs. Porretto said, "A $2 million savings equals 20 to 25 nurses per year and better care for our patients."
TOP ENERGY USERS
Power for Jobs
North Shore Health System, Manhasset: 2,600
Data Device Corp., Bohemia: 1,300
Lake Success: 1,295
Energy Cost Savings Benefit program**
Wenner Bread Products Inc., Bayport: 3,150
Hazeltine Corp./BAE Systems, Greenlawn: 2,900
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: 2,200
Notes: Figures as of March 2011; *CA under an agreement, will not lose its benefits until 2017; **Newsday is a beneficiary of this program.
Source: New York Power Authority