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August 11, 2015 - 5:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in National Grid, batavia, utilities.



During public comments at City Council on Monday night, John Roach used words like "mangled" and "butchered" when talking about some of the tree trimming along power line routes in the city.

We asked Steve Brady, spokesman for National Grid, about the tree trimming, and here's his statement:

"We appreciate the concerns homeowners have when it is necessary for us to prune trees, and we work hard to maintain a balance between safety and reliability, and aesthetics. The work we are doing in Batavia, and specifically Oak Street, is no different than forestry work we do all across our service area. The primary purpose is safety, for the public and our crews. It is also a reliability issue, as trees pose the biggest threat to service, especially in bad weather.

"We prune trees to certain specifications depending on the configuration and voltage of the lines. In this case, our standards generally call for clearances of 6 to 10 feet horizontally in either direction, and 10 to 15 feet above and below, again depending on locale, voltage and so on. We work in communities on 5 to 7 year cycles, as we have found that – on average -- pruning on that cycle keeps up with tree growth fairly well.

"National Grid’s pruning practices were developed with the U.S. Forest Service and endorsed by the International Society of Arborculture, the National Arbor Day Foundation and other tree care professionals. Since 2000, the National Arbor Day Foundation has annually recognized National Grid as a “Tree Line USA” utility, one of a select group of utilities to earn this honor.

"National Grid offers a program called '10,000 Trees' that provides grants to municipalities encouraging them to plant low-growing varieties of trees that pose a lesser safety concern to our lines. The City of Batavia has participated in the program since 2007. We also make information available to customers regarding tree trimming, customer responsibilities and advice on what and where to plant. A link to it is here: https://www1.nationalgridus.com/ElectricSafety


Sometimes the tree trimming produces quasi works of art, as with this nearly heart-shaped pair of trees on Pearl Street Road.

One possible solution for "mangled" trees, as well as a way to reduce storm-related power outages is the undergrounding of utilities.

September 10, 2009 - 2:41pm
posted by Steve Hawley in taxes, steve hawley, legislation, utilities.




As the original author of legislation to repeal the new two percent tax on utilities, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) is pleased to report that his legislation has now gained the support of over two dozen, bipartisan members of the State Assembly.


“I am pleased that so many of my colleagues have already signed on to support this important bill in such a quick period of time,” said Hawley.  “It is good to know that members, from both sides of the aisle, can still come together over common-sense measures that benefit the people of our state and I look forward to their continued support when we return to Albany.”


Assembly Bill 9098, authored by Hawley, will repeal in full the increased tax on utilities, which now totals 2 percent of a consumer’s bill.  The tax increase was made as part of the enacted 2009-10 State Budget, which Hawley opposed.  The newly increased tax went into effect on July 1, 2009 and will cost average homeowners an increase of $40 to over $200 annually.


Hawley’s bill, A.9098, has been introduced and referred to the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions for their review.  With four members of this committee signed on to support this bill so far, and the growing support for the initiative with the public, Hawley is hopeful that the bill will be addressed when the Assembly is called back into session. 


“This winter is going to be tough for many New Yorkers, especially seniors here in Western New York, to afford their utilities.  Already, in previous years, we have seen seniors forced to choose between food, prescriptions and heat.  This increased tax compounds that problem and that’s why, before this winter, I hope that we can repeal this excessive tax,” said Hawley.


The Assemblyman is not only working across the aisle to garner support for this bill; he is looking at both houses.  As previously announced, State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer has agreed to carry the bill in the Senate and together he and Hawley are working to encourage more senators to support the bill as well.


            Members of the public who would like to see the 2 percent utility tax repealed should contact Assemblyman Hawley’s office to sign his petition, which will be delivered to the Governor.  Residents should also write to the Chair of the Assembly Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee, Richard Brodksy and ask that he immediately take action on the bill.  You can contact Assemblyman Brodsky by writing, calling or emailing at the following:


The Honorable Richard Brodsky

Chair, Assembly Corporations, Authorities & Commissions Committee

5 West Main Street, Suite 205

Elmsford, NY 10523

Phone: (914) 345-0432

E-mail: [email protected]




August 11, 2009 - 9:25am
posted by Steve Hawley in taxes, steve hawley, utilities.




Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) is drafting legislation that would repeal the two percent tax on utilities.  The tax is estimated to cost average consumers between $40 and $200 annually and went into effect on July 1, 2009.


“Already residents are struggling to pay their utility bills, especially our seniors.  This tax is a perfect example of Albany shifting the burden of their out-of-control spending in our state and I am working to relieve residents and businesses from this unnecessary tax,” said Assemblyman Hawley.

            Part NN of Article VII of the Laws of 2009 established a utility service conservation assessment of two percent on utilities statewide.  The measure was enacted through the budget bill, Assembly Bill 159-B, which Hawley voted against.


Since 1972, a similar tax of .3 of one percent was bundled into the delivery charge portion of a consumer’s utility bill. This new tax, increased by more than 300 percent to 2 percent, is expected to raise $557 million for the state’s General Fund or more than $2.8 billion through March 31, 2014. 


To offset the revenues lost by rescinding this new tax, Hawley proposes that the state first address their “addiction to spending.”  He has compiled a list of areas where the state could spend less or consolidate without compromising services.  For example, this year’s budget appropriated $60 million for new land acquisition and $200 million in member item spending.  The state also has continued to purchase and finance state-owned automobiles as perks for certain employees at an estimated cost of $10 million annually.  These appropriations are, in Hawley’s view, an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars given the current fiscal climate.


Additionally, Hawley states that $1 billion in administrative costs could be saved by merging certain governmental agencies, such as the state Department of Correctional Services with the divisions of Criminal Justice, Probation and Correctional Alternatives and Parole or the state Office of Real Property with the Department of Taxation and Finance.  Another $5 billion also could be saved by addressing Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse.  Currently, the state is only recovering an average $500 million, leaving an estimated $4.5 billion in taxpayer dollars being misused.


            The Assemblyman will be seeking the sponsorship of his colleagues in both houses and will urge the State Legislature to address the bill when lawmakers return to Albany.




March 24, 2009 - 7:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NYPA, utilities.

Yesterday, we posted an item about planned NYPA rate hikes after the authority had agreed to ship $500 million to the state budget.

Now, with criticism mounting, The Buffalo News reports this morning that the authority may be backing away from its rate increase.

In an e-mail entitled "rate cancel advisory," the power authority scheduled a news conference for this afternoon at the Niagara Power Project for what the e-mail would only say involves "an announcement related to hydropower rates."


The development follows a statement from Gov. David A. Paterson Monday that the power authority should halt both a planned rate hike for upstate electricity consumers and any plans to give its 1,500 workers salary bonuses, Monday.

Now if we could just get the NYPA do to something about those 200 Google jobs it cost WNY.

March 23, 2009 - 7:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NYPA, utilities.

Hard-hitting piece this morning from Donn Esmonde of the Buffalo News about a planned NYPA rate hike following a budget deal to shift $500 million to the state budget.

The rate hike was predictable, Esmonde says, and several WNY legislators went right along with the plan in order to assist down-state interests.

Power Authority officials contend that the spike is not connected to the $500 million it let Albany use to caulk its budget gap. But common sense tells you that when $500 million disappears, there is—one way or another—a price to pay.

“That $500 million was going to come out of somewhere,” said Assemblyman Jim Hayes, an Amherst Republican. “Don’t these people understand how much the average family is hurting?”

The double drilling—the $500 million siphoning, followed by the rate hike —started when state legislators last month OK’d the budget deal. Most of the supposedly “surplus” dollars—which could have been used to cut rates or help businesses—came from the Power Authority’s cash cow, the hydropower plant in Niagara Falls.

On Saturday, we also posted a piece about NYPA blocked Google from opening a 200-job facility in Medina.

Thanks, NYPA.

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