Energy Roundtable: Joseph Griffo
Chair, New York State Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee
Q: Last month you were appointed chairman of the state Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, replacing former state Sen. George Maziarz. What will be on the agenda and where will your top priorities be when it comes to state energy policy?
JG: This is an especially exciting and challenging time in the energy and telecommunications sector and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Ensuring a reliable, resilient, safe, clean and affordable supply of electricity across the state is vital to New York’s economy and it improves our everyday lives. Likewise, the telecommunications industry is an integral part of our economy as the Internet and various new forms of communication have become essential to the way we do business, educate our youth and conduct our daily lives. As chairman for the Energy and Telecommunications Committee, I plan to focus on promoting competitive markets, supporting private enterprise, streamlining regulations, creating jobs and keeping consumer costs down. The future of energy generation, transmission and distribution is evolving and I support strategically upgrading and modernizing the “energy highway” through a public process. That will allow us to free up constraints along the grid and allow for flexibility as we transition to a combination of clean base load generation and more localized distributed generation.
Q: What role will you play in the state’s Renewing Energy Vision (REV) initiative, which was launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo?
JG: My priority is to simultaneously facilitate the expansion and deployment of a variety of renewable and other clean energy technologies, using a balanced approach that provides access to diverse sources of energy, while maintaining electric system reliability, and without overburdening ratepayers. Related to that effort, I will be closely monitoring the Public Service Commission’s REV proceeding, which would redesign the entire energy market system. This is an enormous undertaking with wide-ranging consequences that requires transparency, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to steer policy that will have a lasting positive impact on the energy sector and economic development in New York for years to come.
Q: What will you bring to the Energy Committee, in terms of your background and experiences, as you deal with these policy issues on a state level?
JG: The issues that the Energy Committee will be dealing with are already familiar to me because my tenure as a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Energy and Telecommunications began during the 2009-10 legis-lative term when I served as the ranking minority member. The Senate Republicans regained the majority shortly thereafter, and I have remained on the Energy and Telecommunications Committee as a majority member ever since. Even before my election to the New York State Senate, I was working on a host of energy matters when I served as county executive in Oneida County. For example, at the time I was heavily involved with a successful effort to stop a controversial 200-mile power line project called “NYRI.” This line would have cut through the rural landscape in my region and all the way down to New York City rather than taking advantage of existing rights of way, which I believe is the preferred method of siting or upgrading power lines if underground siting is not possible or is cost prohibitive. Finally, there are a significant number of energy facilities in the 47th Senate District that I rep-resent, including the New York Power Authority facilities in Massena and Marcy, numerous small hydro plants throughout the district and the Maple Ridge Wind Farm on Tug Hill in Lewis County, which is the second largest wind farm in New York State. I plan to draw from my experience with the energy and telecommunications sector and to continue to learn more because the committee has a full plate of issues that need attention. I am sincerely looking forward to it.