Picente resigns from NYPA board over concerns with NY energy policies
UTICA — Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. has resigned from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Board of Trustees due to his concerns about New York’s energy policies.
Picente submitted his resignation on Wednesday, Feb. 14, in a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul. In the letter, Picente first expressed his respect for the current and former members of the board that he worked with during his tenure.
“I can no longer in good conscience serve an administration that is advancing policies that I believe are damaging the very foundation of our economy, public safety and health of the entire state,” Picente said in his letter. “As an elected official that has led a county government for the last 16 years, myself, and the residents and the businesses that I serve, cannot understand the path that is being taken.”
Picente was first appointed to the board in 2015 by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He is now resigning after eight years of service.
A spokesperson for Gov. Hochul said, “We thank the County Executive for his service, and we remain focused on delivering energy affordability and reliability to New Yorkers.”
NYPA did not provide a comment in time before print.
Picente said that he is all for renewable energy and improving the environment, but he thinks that the government should not be making these mandates without any sort of communication and collaboration with local governments.
“While all of it is understandable in terms of having different renewables, we have enough mandates from the government on counties,” he said. “Now you’re mandating this on individual choice in homes, in businesses, and that’s wrong.”
Picente said that these decisions are a part of a long existing pattern of the New York State government not working with local governments and stakeholders when making decisions.
“In terms of decisions that impact lives, or the workplace, or businesses, those require a lot of thought, a lot of discussion with stakeholders, in that regard, and input from the entire state,” he said. “I’m not saying you have to go to all 62 counties, but there’s a way to do this. To just focus on what one part of the state thinks of, it’s just not right.”
Picente cited his concerns about multiple issues that New Yorkers are facing for his resignation, like the bail and discovery reform laws, taxation and over regulation that has led to an outmigration from New York, along with his concerns about the state’s energy policy.
“What happens if there is a shortfall in electrical generation and transmission capacity from renewables to replace the electricity produced by gas and oil? Winter blackouts would be deadly in Upstate New York,” Picente said in his letter.
Picente also pointed out that some homeowners may not be able to afford the costs of replacing gas and oil appliances, like natural gas-powered furnaces and hot water tanks and gasoline-powered cars, with electric ones.
The state has planned to phase out gas-powered cars, and by 2035, will only allow the sale of new electric vehicles (EVs). Some of the lowest-priced EVs can cost under $30,000, while luxury EVs can cost up to $185,000.
EVs are becoming more affordable, but they are still more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cost of an EV by the end of 2022 was $61,4888.
“We have a community in which we have a high poverty rate, we have a lot of senior citizens who are in their homes and want to stay in their homes,” Picente said. “Those two categories put a great burden on who’s going to pay for these changes that are coming down in a short time?”
“How are these people going to afford that? How are the elderly who want to stay in their homes going to afford the conversion of furnaces, and hot water tanks, and the like, and gas fireplaces? What happens? It’s really outrageous and ridiculous,” he added.
Picente also expressed his opposition to NYPA competing with private sector companies to generate renewable energy.
Picente added that he would like to see the state government listen to the needs of county governments, rather than ignoring them.
“We’re on the ground, we’re doing this every day in our communities, more than any other elected official on a state level, there’s no comparison,” Picente said. “While they have a big state to run, they need to listen to us. My hope is this opens the doors to some more communication.”
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