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NYNYS NEWS: Business groups urge that Cuomo Budget2015 include repeal of taxes, fees on energy. Tax bill on electricity alone put at $1.6 billion.
NYNYS NEWS: Business groups urge that Cuomo Budget2015 include repeal of taxes, fees on energy. Tax bill on electricity alone put at $1.6 billion.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 9) Saying energy costs are a burden on both commercial and residential users in New York, business leaders Monday called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators to strip costly taxes and fees from the final budget plan.

Taxes on electricity alone total $1.6 billion, contributing to what are among the highest utility costs in the U.S., the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance said. The utility tax burden is an estimated "$75 per year for every man, woman and child in our state."

Heather Briccetti, CEO of the Business Council of New York State, urged legislators to repeal the so-called 18-a surcharge on purchased electricity and natural gas, which is especially onerous to energy-intensive manufacturers.

"Eliminating the next two years of the 18-a Temporary Assessment will reduce energy taxes by $173 million in state fiscal year 2016 and $126 million in state fiscal year 2017 providing a critical cost relief that will help retain good paying manufacturing jobs by helping to make the state's economy more competitive," the Business Council said.

Briccetti said the 18-a charge was supposed to be temporary measure to shore up the budget.

"In 2009, a different Legislature and a different governor dramatically increased the costs of electricity in New York by adding a fee onto electric consumption called 18-a," she said at a press conference Monday. "Literally in New York state we have some of the lowest wholesale prices in the country for the commodity that is used to make electricity. However we have the fourth highest energy costs in the country and that is because of state added taxes and fees."

"It is obviously a drain on growth," she said. "It is a disincentive to invest in New York, and it is a job killing tax and fee."

Beyond the 18-a tax, the groups, which also included the Independent Power Producers, urged legislator to reject:

A $19.7 million assessment on energy consumer knows a "18-a light."

Sweeping $36 million in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative into the General Fund for non-energy related spending.

Proposed fee hikes for power generators who have air pollution discharge permits.

A $162 million gross receipts tax on residential bills that is on top of net income taxes paid by utilities.

A $405 million New York City utility tax.

A new fee levied on so-called Title V emissions permit holders that include apartment buildings, hospitals, colleges and universities, wastewater treatment plants and other big facilities. "An affected company would be forced to pay a total of over $1 million for its impacted facilities," IPPYNY said. "This company already pays in excess of $792,000 and would incur more than a $329,000 cost."