Karben Examines New Surcharge on Utility Bills
TriStateNews.com, (12/8/05)

ALBANY, NY - Assemblyman Ryan Scott Karben (D/I-Rockland), Chairman of the Assembly's recently created Subcommittee on Renewable Energy, launched the panel's work with an Albany hearing Wednesday, December 7, with investigating a new 2% utility bill surcharge created by the Public Service Commission ("PSC") to fund the use of renewable energy in New York. The surcharge is being imposed as New Yorkers face an estimated $10 billion increase in their energy bills this winter.

"The only way to reduce energy bills over the long haul is to reduce our reliance on traditional forms of energy," Karben said, "But we need to know that the millions of dollars that will be spent on these to-be-determined projects will actually benefit consumers, particularly when energy costs are rising beyond the ability of our citizens to pay."

The surcharge will fund the implementation of the Renewable Portfolio Standard ("RPS"), which was created by a PSC Order in 2004 in part to address increasing concerns over an overdependence on climate threatening fossil fuels. Pursuant to the Order, the RPS will be paid for with a surcharge on electric utility customer bills funding programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority ("NYSERDA"). Representatives from the PSC and NYSERDA will testify.

Karben, a member of the Assembly's Energy Committee, is holding the hearing jointly with that panel's Chairman, Paul D. Tonko (D-Montgomery). The hearing will examine the implementation process of the RPS; its impact on electric consumer bills; the methodology used to determine costs of the program; the capability of the RPS to reduce fossil fuel costs; the coordination of the RPS with other legislated and administratively-established energy programs; and the success of other state RPS programs resulting in the construction of renewable energy sources and reduced dependency on fossil fuel sources of electricity.

Renewable energy sources are constantly replenished and will never run out, as opposed to nonrenewable energy sources, which are finite and will eventually dwindle. Renewable energy sources include solar energy, wind energy, biomass energy, hydrogen energy and geothermal energy.

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