Appalachian Basin

Amid Pipeline Obstruction, Another Energy ‘Disaster’ For Cuomo’s New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s zeal for blocking natural gas and pipeline development in favor of lofty renewable goals is taking a harsh toll on consumers in the Big Apple, where utilities have stopped new gas hookups to customers because of short supplies. It’s also hurting  New England, which has to rely on Russian gas to get through the winter.

Now the City of Buffalo is suffering from Cuomo’s anti-fossil fuel fervor, as a recent Vanity Fair article highlights a $750 million state subsidy Elon Musk’s SolarCity received to open a plant there. And state taxpayers are paying the price.

“For $750 million, we’re getting jobs that pay $2 an hour more than Aldi’s,” the story quotes Buffalo News reporter Dave Robinson as saying about the minimal economic impact his city has seen from Cuomo’s massive subsidized investment in SolarCity.

Despite promises of thousands of high-paying jobs and billions in private investment, the plan to manufacture solar roof panels at Musk’s “Gigafactory 2” in Buffalo is considered a “disaster,” the Vanity Fair story says, with few jobs and little production.

The report called the plant “a centerpiece of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s grand plan to revitalize upstate New York.” But perhaps Cuomo should have looked across the state border to the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania for a successful revitalization model.

Marcellus Shale development has boosted employment and the economies of Pennsylvania counties bordering New York for the past decade, as EID highlighted in an economic snapshot of the regions. But since Cuomo banned hydraulic fracturing in his state, the counties on the New York side of the border have withered.

Even though New Yorkers rely on oil and natural gas to heat and power their homes, Cuomo’s fracking ban was just the first step in what has become an American energy blockade that’s impacting not only the Empire State, but swaths of neighboring New England.

Cuomo has blocked several critical pipeline projects needed to move the abundant and affordable supplies coming from the nearby Marcellus Shale to areas that need it to the north and east. The result is serious harm for working families, according to a recent Manhattan Institute report:

“Utility rates in New York are already among the highest in the country—and shutting off access to more natural gas is only going to make things worse. In 2018, U.S. residential gas customers paid an average of $10.53 per million Btu. By contrast, in January 2019, Con Ed’s gas customers were paying $19.97 per million Btu, roughly 90% more than the national averageBy April, with the cold weather over, Con Ed’s gas customers were still paying $17.57 per million Btu, about 67% more than the national average.”

“In addition to higher natural gas costs, New Yorkers and New Englanders are paying higher electricity prices than average Americans. … Only four other states on the East Coast have higher residential electricity rates than New York. All of them are in New England: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.” (emphasis added)

Undeterred by these impacts on consumers and neighbors, Cuomo has plowed ahead on proposals to power the state’s entire grid from renewables. Meanwhile, he saw the SolarCity plant as being “of critical importance to the United States’ economic competitiveness and energy independence,” Vanity Fair reported.

In order for future electricity generation to be both affordable and sustainable, it will likely use a combination of energy sources that includes renewables and natural gas – much like New York’s current system which typically generates a third or more of its power with natural gas. But by ignoring a proven source of energy security next-door – American-made natural gas being produced at record levels – Cuomo has caused price spikes for consumers and concerns about energy supplies in his own state and in New England. Now it appears his blind embrace of SolarCity’s promise in Buffalo will leave taxpayers holding an additional bill.

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