Thursday, May 19, 2011

Senator Gianaris: No Tax Help for Big Electric by Rebecca Henely >

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State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) condemned a bill passed in the Senate Monday to give tax abatements to power generators, saying it would provide them with an unfair tax benefit.

“I think they’re trying to use the excuse of rate payer relief to give a tax break to their friends in the energy industry,” Gianaris said of the Senate Republicans, all of whom voted for the bill along with three Queens Democrats.

Gianaris has been critical of potential increases to electric rates. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. George Maziarz (R-Newfane), offers property tax abatements to power generators on the grounds that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission did not take into account the increased peak demand expected from New York City between 2011 and 2014 when setting the tax benefits for the power generators. The bill has been sent to the state Assembly, but has not been passed.

Maziarz did not respond for comment by press time Tuesday evening.

Gianaris, who supports a bill by Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) that would prevent FERC’s increase in energy capacity prices for power generators from being passed on to city residents, said Maziarz’s measure would give a windfall to the energy industry and Lanza’s bill should have been passed instead.

FERC had originally planned to increase capacity prices to offset city property taxes, even though the city already offers property tax credits to power generators. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have come out against FERC’s decision.

“The last thing we want to do is be giving money away to an industry that’s experiencing record profits,” Gianaris said.

The Senate has not passed Lanza’s bill. The Staten Island senator also voted for Maziarz’s bill.

In addition to the Senate Republicans, seven Democrats voted for Maziarz’s legislation, including state Sens. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone). State Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) was excused from voting.