As a wife and mother, I know firsthand what Long Island families are confronting. Our ailing economy hurts wage earners, businesses, farmers, fishermen, and always, it hurts families.
The main reason that I’m running for the State Senate is that our senator, Ken LaValle, has failed us on protecting the economy. He is more interested in political alliances and prolonging his hold on power than in fighting for middle class families.
Look at your electricity bill and you’ll see where Ken LaValle has not only failed us, but actually worked against our interest. Long Islanders pay eleven cents per kilowatt hour, almost twice the national average of six cents, and higher than anywhere except Hawaii.
Why? Fifteen years ago, Ken LaValle and others engineered a power supply agreement between our local utility, LIPA, and National Grid, a company that both owns most Long Island power plants and supplies fuel to run them. The deal gives National Grid near-monopoly power and results in sky-high electric rates.
These extortionate electricity costs are obviously a disaster for families, but they’re equally disastrous for business. Why should a business come to Long Island, or stay on Long Island, when electricity – a large component of operating expense – costs significantly less everywhere else?
The LIPA-National Grid agreement expires in May of 2013, but Ken LaValle recently saw that LIPA extend the contract for another 15 years. And if the high rates are not enough, the National Grid contract provides no concrete commitment to repowering old, inefficient plants like Port Jefferson, and no promise of clean energy in our future.
Why has Ken LaValle done this? Some explanation may be found in the fact that National Grid PACs have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Ken LaValle and the Senate Republicans over the last five years.
This is not what we need our representative in Albany to be doing. If elected, I will urge careful scrutiny of the extended National Grid agreement at each step of the review process that must be completed before it is finalized. One of these steps is at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, before which a legal complaint has been lodged, alleging that the agreement is an unlawful exercise of market power designed to manipulate electricity prices and cause substantial damage to both markets and customers. I believe this complaint has merit, and would urge that the Commission not act on the extended National Grid contract until this lawsuit is resolved.
We need lower electric rates, and a real commitment to repowering the old plants and a clean energy future. It is time for a State Senator who works for, not against, Long Island families on this front and every front.