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EDITORIAL: Assembly should power up the jobs-energy program

By fleeing Albany without providing less expensive power for businesses here on Long Island and upstate, the Assembly has endangered the state's economy at the worst possible time. The Senate overwhelmingly passed a good bill, and there's no good reason the Assembly can't, too.

Gov. David A. Paterson sensibly proposed an Energize New York bill to replace the Power for Jobs and Energy Cost Savings Benefit programs of the New York Power Authority. (Newsday gets job-saving cheaper NYPA power through one of these programs, since the plant uses a lot of energy.) The old programs had to be renewed annually by lawmakers, which kept businesses perpetually uncertain.

Under the new bill, companies could get seven-year contracts for the cheaper power. That would help firms such as Wenner Bread Products in Bayport, which has put on hold a decision to move to North Carolina, until it sees whether New York will help with its big annual energy bill.

Upstate, though, the bill would reduce an average $2-to-$4-a-month discount to some residents. That's the Assembly's gripe. But firms upstate would also get a good chunk of the cheap hydropower. And what's good for Island firms like Kozy Shack in Hicksville is good for upstate too: Kozy Shack buys most of its milk there to make its desserts.

The old programs expired, and bigger electric bills will soon arrive for many companies, forcing painful decisions. The Assembly has the power to avert that, and it must. hN


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