NY Utility Unions: Gov. Hochul Pandering Not Progressing
Comments made pander to enviro’s kills union jobs, fails to meet real emissions goals
New York is dependent on energy supplies from out of state for more than three-fourths of its energy needs according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That means 75% of the energy used by New York State residents comes from out-of-state providers.
“When we asked the Cuomo Administration exactly which states are providing energy, the amounts, and their source of energy; we received no response. The Cuomo Administration took a victory lap when they closed coal plants along the southern Tier resulting in thousands of jobs lost, while the coal plants just over the Pennsylvania border continued to thrive providing New York with dirty power. This demonstrates the hypocrisy of New York State's energy policy,"
... says Patrick Guidice, Chair of the IBEW Utility Labor Council of NYS which represents utility workers on properties across the state. New York’s policy as-is has devastated communities like Somerset, Buchanan and Newburgh, which all witnessed the mass exodus of good paying jobs.
Governor Hochul, who is New York's first female Governor, took over the top spot after sexual harassment complaints forced Andrew Cuomo to resign. As Lt. Governor, Hochul’s relationships with organized labor were and continue to remain strong. The union community from various sectors applauded her new role when she took over in early August 2021.
It didn't take long for criticism to emerge when Hochul recently announced at Climate Week on Sept. 20th in New York City that her administration was expanding solar generation in New York with the goal of creating 10 gigawatts of solar generation in the state by 2030. According to Australian based Sunwiz Industries, consultants who have been providing service and marketing advice to the solar community since 2005, “to create 10 gigawatts of solar power, close to 40 million solar panels need to be utilized. If you laid them end to end, then you’d reach all the way around planet earth, twice over.” These solar panels are typically NOT recyclable, because they contain toxic materials like lead that can leach out as they break down, landfilling them also creates new environmental hazards.
“As this administration moves forward with environmentalist driven energy policy; the men and women who keep the lights on ask that you move with caution. There are numerous examples of unintended consequences of good intentions,”
.. says James Shillitto, President of the Utility Union Workers of America Local 1-2, the 7,800-member union workforce at Con Ed and power plants across the five boroughs. One recent example of good intentions gone bad: the Governor is suggesting building an extension cord from Canada to Queens, relying on foreign power and exporting jobs to Canada; while closing down power plants prematurely and laying off thousands of workers – and the loss of good middle-class jobs - here in New York. “These are examples of politically expedient energy policy which will leave us with the potential for drastic price hikes in energy and the likelihood of rolling blackouts, as well as the loss of dependable New York-based energy such as proposed as an alternative to the Canadian extension cord,” Shillitto added.
“We support the emission goals set by this administration and suggest that allowing New York-based investor-owned utilities to engage in renewable generation coupled with the dramatic reduction of dirty power imported from surrounding states will produce greater, more substantial, “real” results. We all want to leave the planet in better shape for the next generation; however, doing it fast typically does not translate into doing it right,” says Guidice.
The utility unions have reached out to the Governor's staff and the administration appears receptive to listening to workers concerned.
Shillitto is President of the 7,800-member Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2, based in New York City, whose members work at Con Edison and power plants throughout the 5 boroughs and Westchester. Shillitto also serves on the NYS Just Transition Task Force, which is a subcommittee to NYS Climate Action Council.
Guidice is Chair of the 15,000-member IBEW Utility Labor Council of NYS, composed of Local Unions in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, whose members work at utility companies throughout the state. Guidice is also Business Manager of IBEW Local 1049, based on Long Island.