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Long-term energy discounts to LI employers urged

Richard Kessel, president and chief executive of the New York Power Authority and former LIPA chairman, appeared before the Long Island Regional Planning Council Tuesday seeking support for legislation to revamp the state's discount energy programs to help keep jobs on Long Island - support the council readily gave.

Kessel said it was "critically important" for NYPA to be able to give companies longer-term discounts - five to 10 years - so businesses can plan. Such incentives can attract and retain businesses, he said.

The importance of energy assistance, Kessel said, to the Island's economy was clear when computer software giant, Islandia-based CA, considered moving its data center off the Island because of uncertainty over continuation of the state's Power for Jobs and Energy Cost Savings Benefits Program. Under current law, the program must be renewed every year by the State Legislature.

Renewal of the programs was delayed last year during a legislative power struggle, he noted. If CA had moved its data center off the Island, "that would have been hundreds of jobs lost," he said.

On Monday, Kessel said state officials approved NYPA using its Industrial Incentive Award program to provide CA up to $3.6 million a year to be applied to its electric bills until at least 2016. The award would be tapped if the Legislature did not extend the other discounted power programs, which are up for renewal May 15.

Gov. David A. Paterson said the incentive award was of "paramount importance for ensuring that CA continues to be a vibrant part of the Long Island economy." He noted the company employs 1,800 people here.

Russ Artzt, vice chairman and founder of CA, said the award "provides CA with the assurance of lower-cost and stable electric rates, which are vital to our efforts to expand our local data center facility."

Michael White, executive director of the council, said the regional advisory panel had "already been engaged in supporting Power for Jobs and we're going to continue that."

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