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Missing in action

There's been a lot of talk about business the State Legislature didn't take care of this session: IDA reform, stricter laws for teen drivers, property tax relief.

Let me add this to the list.

A lot of people in the know, including many local economic development officials, have been saying for a couple of years that there's a need to modify the criteria used to determine how the New York Power Authority allocates low-cost electricity to local industry. I did an investigative project 14 months ago that documented how the power is being squandered, and followed up with a piece in September that outlined how it could be put to better use.

The criteria is established by the Legislature, and thus far, no one has submitted a bill, much less gotten it acted on.

Several weeks ago I detailed how the Power Authority is selling low-cost hydropower earmarked for local industry and making a big buck off it. Very little of the money comes back to Western New York. There's hardly a peep out of our local delegation, much less legislative action to change things.

A couple of years back, a commission put together by then Gov. George Pataki and legislative leaders made a series of sweeping recommendations on how to make better use of nine power programs administered by NYPA to promote economic development across the state. The Legislature -- you guessed it -- has done nothing with the report.

Albany's inaction on economic develop reform extends to the state's two other major programs.

IDA reform again stalled this session. Reform of the Empire Zone program hasn't gotten past the talk stage, despite a series of investigations over the past five years by The News and Syracuse Post-Standard.

These subsidy programs involve hundreds of millions of dollars a year in Western New York alone. Alone, they're not going to revive the upstate economy. But used well, they could help.

Which begs the question -- where is our local delegation on all this?

Aside from Sam Hoyt pushing for IDA reform, they have shown no initiative. A year ago, the excuse, for hydro, anyway, was that the Legislature was waiting on Gov. Eliot Spitzer to present a comprehensive bill. Two sessions and another governor later, they're still waiting.

Western New York is in the eye of the subsidy storm. We've got six IDAs in Erie County alone, more than any county in the state. Buffalo, in terms of geography, has more acres of Empire Zones than any city in the state. And the region's share of discounted hydropower may represent the richest subsidy program in the entire state.

Isn't this reason enough for our delegation to show some initiative? In fact, given that these programs are rooted in state law, isn't it their job?

   

   

Whither Roger Kelley?

I was expecting to wrap up this week's worth of Q&As with D. Patrick Curley, who, along with Elise Cusack, represents Western New York on the Power Authority's governing board. Curley was very guarded, however, and had little of interest to say. His one noteworthy comment: He believes the authority could be doing more to promote economic development, particularly in Western New York.

"To that end," he said, "I will propose that NYPA co-sponsor, with other appropriate state agencies, an economic development summit this fall in Buffalo. The conference will bring together recognized experts from the economic development milieu and will moderate topical panel discussions with representatives from Europe, Canada as well as our own federal, state and local governments."

Roger_kelley Let's turn to NYPA President Roger Kelley.

Because he's from Clarence, there were expectations in some quarters that Western New York might get more attention from the authority after his appointment a year ago. The timing appeared ripe.

In the months leading up to Kelley's appointment, assorted local officials had called for at least a partial relocation of authority headquarters from White Plains to Buffalo or Niagara Falls. And they wanted the authority to make better use of the Niagara Power Project to help the regional economy. None of that has transpired, however.

What has Kelley done for Western New York?

That was one of the questions I intended to ask him as part of a series of Q&As that I'm running this week on this blog. Kelley, I was told, is too busy. I made the invitation open-ended, saying we could talk whenever he had time. It's going on two weeks, and I haven't heard back.

Where does he stand?

Kelly gave a speech in September to the Independent Power Producers of New York, one that a member of his senior staff sent me last fall with the explanation that it outlined the authority's priorities under the new boss. Kelley made it clear in his speech that his priority was meeting the growing power demands of New York City. The only mention of Western New York involved a passing reference to a proposal to build a clean coal-fired power plant in the Town of Tonawanda, a plan that is now languishing. Some proponents grumble privately that the authority has failed to use its powers to help move the project along.

In April, the authority announced a deal that will lead to construction of a 500-megawatt plant -- that's pretty large -- in Queens to provide electricity to governmental customers in New York City. The plant will replace a facility that is being decommissioned.

Freedom_tower On a much smaller scale, the authority on Wednesday announced it has reached a deal to buy $10.6 million in fuel cells to help power four towers at the redeveloped World Trade Center in Manhattan. The state is picking up the tab for three of the fuel cells, the authority will pay for the fourth, and is scheduled to get reimbursed by the landlord over 20 years.

Nothing wrong with this. It's good the authority is promoting clean, renewable energy. And the redevelopment plan anticipates that buildings will be constructed to LEED standards. New York City could use all the green it can get.

It's noteworthy, however, there are no similar initiatives here, in the backyard of the people whose natural resources generate two-thirds of the profits the authority earns from its 18 power plants around the state. It's not like the authority hasn't invested in fuel cells before -- there have been 15 previous purchases. All but one is in or around New York City.

Among the operations they help power are a sewage treatment plant in Brooklyn, a hospital in the Bronx, a police precinct in Central Park and an aquarium at Coney Island.

A lot of people like to beat up on the authority for reasons that have more to do with the governor and State Legislature, who have demanded the authority use its revenues to help subsidize some 700 businesses across the state, few of them in Western New York. To some degree, that anger is misplaced.

But the contrast between the attention  NYPA pays to downstate and the lack of action in Western New York helps to perpetuate the perception among many here that authority officials think first and foremost about downstate.

Maybe some day Roger Kelley or Pat Curley will address those concerns. But not today, not in this blog, anyway.

Q&A - Congressman Brian Higgins

Higgins U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins has been in the forefront of trying to wrest more for Western New York from the New York Power Authority. He led the charge to obtain more money from the authority in exchange for local support of its bid to obtain an extension of its federal license to operate the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston. With that fight over, Higgins says it's time for the community to demand that its share of the plant's power generation, and the profits it produces, stay in Western New York.

Here's what he said in a recent interview:

You’ve long argued that Western New York should be getting more of a return from the Niagara Power Project, but the folks at the Power Authority remind people that the plant is a state, not local asset, and under the law, they’re right. Aren’t you riding a dead horse?

"This hydropower is a resource from and for Western New York; it has been historically, and we need to make it more so going forward. Our city was built around the availability of low-cost power. 

"Remember, it is not the Niagara Power Project that makes low-cost power possible. It is our own unique resources –- the lake and the Niagara River -– that make the Niagara Power Project possible. So the power and the economic benefits should accrue disproportionately, if not exclusively, to the benefit of Western New York."

The Power Authority has sold unused hydropower earmarked for local industry for an estimated $161 million from 2005 through the end of this year and is using it for statewide purposes. Should that money, in the future, be coming back to Western New York?

"The power and the proceeds from the sale of that power absolutely should stay in Western New York, for job creation and investment in 'new economy' businesses. The development of wind, solar and hydropower industries in Western New York should be funded by the proceeds of the Niagara Power Project."

There is no regional action plan on economic development to do what you espouse or anything else. Shouldn’t the locals get their act together before asking for money from the sale of power?

"The replacement and expansion programs were created at a time when Buffalo's economy was very different. They need to be expanded and reformed so they can be used by local officials to nurture the new economy, including the production of green energy, such as the assembly of windmills.  Local officials cannot effectively use the programs as they are currently structure. They are terribly outdated."

Why do you think NYPA dollars should be used to fund clean energy initiatives?

"
Lenders are already skeptical of alternative energy startups due to enormous initial capital costs.  The short-term nature of our federal tax incentives signals to financial markets a lack of confidence in the viability of these new technologies, and raises doubts that the federal government will be a long-term partner in promoting these enterprises.

"The current federal tax credit for wind power is only one year. That is not nearly long enough. I am co-sponsoring legislation to extend the wind energy tax credit to five years.  Meanwhile, the House just passed a package of tax extensions that included a three year tax credit for energy derived from biomass, geothermal, hydropower, landfill gas and solid waste, and a six-year extension for solar power. 

"Congress must pass more-aggressive and even longer-term tax incentives to induce investment in alternative energy to reduce our dependence on oil and to create green jobs in Western New York.  In this area, a tax incentive’s length is its strength, and our economy depends on providing the strongest possible incentives."

While you and others put much of the blame on the Power Authority, officials there note that to some degree, they’re merely doing what the governor and legislators have dictated through state law. For example, the sale of 70 megawatts of unused Niagara power, the so-called “loose juice,” is a legislative edict. What role does Albany have to play in changing the way Niagara power and profits are used?

"The current NYPA model is broken. It does very little to provide new business investment and job growth in the Buffalo-Niagara region. The rules of the replacement and expansion programs need to be expanded to allow businesses in the new economy to take advantage of low cost power. 

"There is no mandate to sell off loose juice. NYPA could and should invest the proceeds from the Niagara Power Project back into local economic development. The reason there is loose juice at all is because we have a smaller economy than when the programs were designed. So the power or the proceeds from its sale should be recaptured and dedicated to investment in the local new economy. 

"There are steps NYPA can take administratively to modernize its programs to adjust to the reality that Buffalo’s economy and needs have changed since the programs were conceived.  However, NYPA is able to profit off of loose juice, and therefore has no incentive to change its rules to eliminate and keep the power in the region.  So, because NYPA will not change, there needs to be a change in the statute to provide more flexibility in the local use of the power.

Friday: An interview with D. Patrick Curley, who represents Western New York on the authority's governing board.

 

Q&A - State Sen. George Maziarz

MaziarzState Sen. George Maziarz is in a position to make things happen regarding the Niagara Power Project. Earlier this year, the Newfane Republican assumed chairmanship of the Senate's Energy Committee.

Here's what he haad to say in a recent interview with The News.

The power authority has sold unused replacement and expansion power earmarked for local industry for $161 million from 2005 through the end of this year. Little of the money is coming back to Western New York. What do you think about that?

"The bottom line is that either the power or the money should be staying in Western New York.  If replacement or expansion power is going unused, then it should be offered to regional entities that do not meet the present criteria for receiving an allocation."

While a lot of people want to complain about the authority, a lot of what they're doing is at the behest of laws passed by the State Legislature. Aren't you guys a part of the problem?

"Well, of course, much progress needs to be made with our current statues.  But we live in a democracy and Western New York only has so many representatives in the State Legislature.  We need  to make the downstate-driven Assembly majority understand that our low-cost hydropower is a regional asset that helps our economy, just as Wall Street is a regional asset to greater New York City. Only then will we be able to pass the laws we need."

Do you think the New York Power Authority should be doing more for the local economy because of the hydropower plant in Lewiston.

"To say NYPA should be doing more for the local economy is the understatement of the year." 

There are a handful of companies in Niagara Falls getting discounts on hydropower worth more than $125,000 per job per year. Isn't that excessive?

"Yes.  However, many of the companies do have a long history of providing thousands of good jobs in Western New York. But some sort of redistribtion will have to take place." 

You took over as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee earlier this year. How do you intend on using your power to make the most of the Niagara Power Project?

"Appointments to the NYPA Board of Trustees must be approved by the Senate Energy Committee before they are confirmed.  As chairman of this committee, I will make every nominee fully aware of our local concerns and I will make it clear that the Niagara Power Project should be treated primarily as a regional asset."

Explain your concerns about how local governments in Niagara County are using the 25 megawatts of low-cost hydropower they received from the Power Authority as part of the relicensing settlement.

"The settlement occurred in June 2005 and now, three years later, not one new job has been created."

Tomorrow I interterview U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins.

 

Q&A - Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster

Dyster_3

I had a story in Monday's paper about how much of the low-cost hydropower reserved for Western New York industry has gone unused and been sold by the authority to fund programs and operations that have little to do with our region. I'm following up the next four days on this blog with interviews with officials with varying degrees of influence to change how that hydropower is used.

I'm starting off with with Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, who has impressed a lot of people since taking office in January. He's smart, well-informed and forward-thinking. If you like progressive Democrats, he's your man.

I'll follow Wednesday with state Sen. George Maziarz, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee; Thursday with Congressman Brian Higgins; and Friday with D. Patrick Curly, a member of the Power Authority's governing board who represents Western New York. I've tried to get Power Authority President Roger Kelley on the record, but his people say he's too busy to talk.

Here's the Dyster interview.

You've been fairly critical of the way low-cost replacement and expansion power has been used in recent years. What's the problem?

"Without any notion of where we should be going in terms of future industrial strategy, we've been easily persuaded that the first order of business is to 'do no harm.' So our tendency has been to keep on allocating power incentives in the way they have always been allocated without stopping to ask 'why.' Even if the best use of some of this power really is to try to minimize job losses at disinvesting companies that are traditional power recipients, we should decide to do that as a matter of policy, not of habit. We need to ask for better explanations from everyone -- new industry or old -- that wants a piece of low-cost power, and be able to explain the strategy behind why we are allocating to one company or industry and not another. We're just starting to do that now."

Does fixing the problem require a tweak or an overhaul?

"Power allocation decisions for incentive power need to be made by business experts, not power production experts, and they need to be made on the basis of rationale and publicly defensible criteria. Whether that's a tweak or an overhaul depends on how badly broken you think the current system is now."

What changes would you like to see?

"Look for new industries, new processes and new criteria for deciding who gets cheap power, but also give existing power users the chance to make their case for continuation. Many are exploring new markets, new products and new processes, and essentially deserve to evaluated as new enterprises.

"We also need to look for opportunities for various types of "double leveraging." For example, if we use 'x' units of renewable hydropower to manufacture materials for construction of solar panels that will produce '10x' units of renewable solar power, we are exponentially increasing benefits. Similarly, we can link incentive power for one part of a manufacturing process to location of other parts of the process in the region -- e.g., by requiring manufacturers of a critical material like solar-panel grade silicon to sell a fixed percentage of their output to local New York manufacturers of the end product. That retains more of the value-added here, where the cheap power that makes production of the component material possible comes from."

The power authority sold unused replacement and expansion power earmarked for local industry for an estimated $161 million from 2005 through the end of this year. What do you think about that?

"If the power was intended to be used here for local benefit, then profits derived from selling any power that is unused should also be retained here. This is particularly critical if someone from outside the region is helping making the decision whether to award the incentive power, since it would be in their interest to sell it instead. It's a classic conflict of interest."

Some folks think that at least of portion of those profits should be coming back to Western New York to promote economic development. What do you think?

"Of course that would be appropriate, especially if the money was earmarked for brownfields redevelopment, or incentives for 'green' industries like retrofitting inefficient buildings, building more fuel efficient or alternative-powered vehicles, developing other renewable power sources (e.g., solar, wind or biofuels), expanding public transportation, or training workers for new jobs like solar panel installation, repair of hybrid vehicles, etc."

How would you use the money?

"See above. Whatever dollars we have to spend in the public sector will go a lot further if we use them to reinforce loans and investments made by private sector institutions, e.g., by reducing the risk in forward-leaning projects where conservative bankers need a little nudge. Loans that become grants if and only if measurable performance targets (for job creation, energy savings, etc.) are met are a better bet than cash giveaways based on empty job-creation or other promises that are never monitored."

You say green is the way to grow the local economy? What's involved?

"We need to stop thinking about the high cost of energy as merely a
problem and start thinking about it as a challenge to be met. Identifying and meeting challenges is what grew the American economy in the past, and meeting the challenge of high energy costs head-on with sound policies and wise investments can provide the foundation for future economic growth. The Erie Canal wasn't dug as a hobby project; it was done to correct a pressing deficiency in the transportation system: the inability to move people and goods quickly and cheaply enough from the East Coast to the interior of the country. Solving that problem created new jobs, new industries and new urban areas. But the world does not stand still. Those regions that adapt most rapidly, efficiently and creatively to changed conditions will prosper, and those that lag behind will suffer. So far, our track record is not exactly stellar."

What does the political, business and labor leadership have to do as a first step to get the ball rolling?*

"Hopefully by now everyone everywhere in the country knows the general outline of what needs to be done to bring our economy into the 21st Century. So the issue isn't so much "what" as "how." Because we have limited resources, we need a strategy that identifies the highest-priority, highest-payoff projects, policies and programs and systematically removes the obstacles to making the right things happen. Want a model? Look at the Apollo Alliance plan for New York developed by a coalition of labor, academic and environmental organizations. It's concise, action-oriented and creative."

Tomorrow's interview: State Sen. George Maziarz.

Our power, their dollars

Niagara_power_project_scenic Back in the 1950s, to settle a vehement argument between Robert Moses and local officials over who would build and operate a new hydropower plant near Niagara Falls, Congress settled the issue by saying the state could have the plant, but industries in Western New York would get more than one-third of what was generated there.

That approach worked well until earlier this decade, when a number of large power customers shuttered their plants and other companies lost part of their allocations because they shed jobs, a major criteria for getting the power in the first place. That left the New York Power Authority with nearly a quarter of the region's share of the low-cost hydropower.

As I report today in The Buffalo News, the authority, working with local economic development officials, were slow to find takers for the power, and instead sold it on the open market at a big profit. I've calculated the return, through the end of this year, at $161 million. Little of the money has come back to Western New York.

Instead, the authority, under orders from the the governor and state legislature, has spent about half of it to subsidize the energy bills of some 700 companies statewide, few of them from WNY. The other half has gone into, among other things, authority operations, including a gold-plated bureaucracy. Read this for details.

These profits are part of the reason why the Niagara Power Project, the nation's second-largest hydropower plant, has posted record earnings the past three years. The plant provides the authority with most of its net revenue.

"It's their cash cow," said George Maziarz, chairman of the state Senate Energy Committee.

He and a number of other local officials are fed up with the situation, saying the money needs to remain in the community and the criteria used to allocate power needs to be amended. While the authority has found takers for almost all of the unused power, it's going to take up to three years for all of it to be put to use, and in the meantime, the authority will keep selling what's unused. Ditto for any power that becomes available.

To follow up today's story, this blog will post interviews the balance of the week with officials with varying degrees of influence to do something about this. On tap are Maziarz, Congressman Brian Higgins, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and D. Patrick Curley, who represents WNY on the authority's governing board. I'll start tomorrow with Dyster.

Why no action on hydropower reform?

Lots has been made of what the state Legislature did not accomplish this recently concluded session. IDA reform. Property tax relief. Tighter restrictions on teen drivers.

Let me add to the list.

There's widespread agreement among local economic development officials that changes ought to be made in the criteria that determines which local industries get low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority. I did an investigation a year ago that documented the problem, and followed up with a piece that outlined solutions. Two legislative sessions later, I'm not aware of so much as a bill being introduced by anyone from our local delegation that addresses the substantive issues.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, low-cost power earmarked for use by local industry that has begging for customers has instead been sold by the Power Authority at a big markup and used for programs that, for the most part, have little to do with Western New York. Again, there's been no legislation introduced to change this. Barely a voice raised in outrage, actually.

There's been talk for years that the state needs to rethink all its power programs geared towards promoting economic development statewide. Gov. George Pataki and the Legislature enpaneled Temporary Commission on the Future of New York State Power Programs For Economic Development to tackle the issue, and the commission issued a series of recommendations in December 2005. The governor and Legislature hasn't done anything with it.

It's not just power programs. The News and Syracuse Post-Standard have done a number of investigations into the Empire Zone program over the past five years. State pols follow by making promises to clean up the program. The talk never translates into legislation, however.

Proponents of IDA reform have gotten further - at least they've introduced legislation and gotten it approved by the Assembly. But nothing has passed the Senate, so reform remains at square one.

Upstate isn't going to dig its way out of its economic malaise through subsidy programs alone. But intelligent use of them can help.

It's a fair question to ask members of our local delegation - starting with George Maziarz, Dale Volker, Sam Hoyt and Robin Schimminger - why they have not taken up these issues. Hoyt gets a pass on IDA reform - he has tried - but on the balance, he and the others have not taken the initiative.

Dishing out the discounts

Almost lost in the news last week about the huge hydopower allocation to Globe Metals to reopen its Niagara Falls plant was the awarding of cheap electrity to three other Niagara Falls companies.

Keep in mind that the discount per job averaged about $4,200 when I calucated it a year ago, and that allocations made since January 2006 have leveraged about $14,000 in private investment per kilowatt.

Here are the new allocations approved by the New York Power Authority's governing board last week:

Saint-Gobain Cermaics, already one of the larger cheap hydropower recipients, got an extra 700 KW. The company says it will use the power to expand its plant, investing $5.8 million and adding 14 jobs.

  • Annual energy savings: $276,105 (all calculations are mine)
  • Cost per job: $19,722
  • Investment per KW: $8,286

Ceres Crystal Industries gets 2,000 KWH for a $5.43 million expansion to double its workforce from 50 to 100 jobs.

  • Annual energy savings: $515,272
  • Cost per job: $10,305
  • Investment per KW: $2,715

Ashland Advanced Materials is a startup that gets 3,500 KW. It plans to invest $8.5 million and create 75 jobs. The company is seeking additional subsidies from the state and county IDA.

  • Annual energy savings: $596,226
  • Cost per job: $7,590
  • Investment per KW: $2,429

Costing the Globe deal

Some thoughts on the Globe Metals deal I cost out today in The News.

From a purely green economic development perspective, this is great news. Adding some 500  good-paying green-collar jobs in the emerging solar industry is big. And setting aside 25 percent of the silicon produced at the plant for solar panel manufacturers the state hopes to attract shows forward thinking on the part of the Empire State Development Corp., which negotiated the deal.

Enthused Bill Nowak of the Green Gold Development Corp.:

"This is a very good foundation to build on. If there is going to be a public subsidy, this is the kind of business it should be directed to. We're building for the future with this."

But the public subsidies involved are staggering.

Discounts on hydropower alone approach $30,000 per job, per year. There are big tax breaks through the Empire Zone program that state officials have yet to fully calculate, and and tax credits will reduce, if not if not eliminate, Globe's corporate tax bill to the state for years. I imagine there are federal tax breaks to be had, as well, although I could not confirm that in time for today's story.

By my calculations, Globe, for its $60 million investment, will get power discounts and state tax breaks worth $155 million to $180 million over 10 years. That works out to, ballpark, $310,000 to $360,000 per job.

Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First, the smartest guy I know on subsidies, is not as cranked on the project as Nowak. Said LeRoy:

"It's poetic that power from moving water will help capture power from the sun while creating jobs in a community that needs them. This is a real "poster-child" story, the kind of story that public officials are prone to overspend for."

I'd really like to hear from readers on this, especially green activists and economic developers. And all you taxpayers, of course. It would be nice if posters used their real name -- I'm getting tired of snippy comments by those who use pen names. I put my name to my words, and think readers should do likewise.

I'm also including an online poll below that I'll keep open through the long weekend. One vote per person.

 

Cheap hydropower for two ethanol plants

Power_failure_image_2 The New York Power Authority last week awarded a large allocation of low-cost hydropower to a company planning to open an ethanol plant in Niagara Falls. This follows a relatively large allocation made in 2006 to a company planning a similar venture in South Buffalo.

Is this a good use of low-cost hyrdopower, perhaps the region's most-potent economic development tool?

The latest hydropower recipient, Northern Ethanol, plans to build a $245 million plant on 47th Street that would employ 105. The other proposed plant, operated by RiverWright, is projected to cost $185 million and employ 65.

Both companies received large allocations. Northern Ethanol is getting 9,000 kilowatts hours, RiverWright 5,000. The former is the second-largest allocation awarded since at least the start of 2006; the latter ranks as  forth-largest. If the two draw down the power, they have three years from the date of the award to do so, they'll rank among the 25 largest recipients of the 100-plus companies getting expansion and replacement power generated at the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston.

The authority will sell the power at a deep discount, about a quarter the market rate. Based on current energy prices, Northern Ethanol would save an estiamted $2.7 million a year, RiverWright $1.5 million.

Whether these are good deals for the public depends on how you look at it.

On a cost per job basis, probably not. The Northern Ethanol deal works about to a discount/subsidy, of about $26,000 per job per year. RiverWright comes in at about $23,000 per job. These are high figures, considering an analysis I did for my Power Failure series a year ago determined the average subsidy worked out to about $4,200 per job, and only five power recipients had discounts worth more than $20,000 per job.

There's also the federal benchmark of $35,000 per job for the lifetime of the subsidy. The authority usually awards hydropower contracts for at least five years, meaning the total subsidy will top $100,000 per job. And rest assured, these companies will come looking for an extension.

These are new facilities requiring a lot of investment, and by that standard, the projects look better. Data on power awarded since the start of 2006 shows that each kilowatt hour has leveraged an average of $14,058 in investment. The figures are about $27,000 for Northern Ethanol and $37,000 for RiverWright. That's a lot more bang for the public buck.

There's one more issue to consider: The wisdom of using public subsidies to promote the production of ethanol. It's fallen out of favor with most environmentalists because of its impact on both global warming and the world's food supply, as noted in a recent edition of Time.

"Several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it's dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous."

What do you think - is this a good move by the Power Authority, in concert with the region's economic development agencies, which advise NYPA on allocations?