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Grassroots Bulletin

May 2012 Grassroots Newsletter



2012 Election Outlook

With Mitt Romney now taking on the role as the “presumptive” Republican nominee for President, we are starting to see efforts by the Obama and Romney campaigns to draw distinctions between the two candidates.  Energy policy is already taking a prominent role.  In fact, within 24 hours of Rick Santorum dropping out of the Republican primary, a group supporting Mitt Romney purchased about $1 million in airtime in Florida, a key swing state, to criticize the President’s energy policy suggesting that the President is responsible for high prices at the pump.  The Obama campaign quickly responded with a commercial tying Romney to “Big Oil.” 

 In a poll this month, the Pew Research Center found that 61% of voters listed energy policy as “very important” to their vote.   The same poll also found that voters slightly favor Romney over President Obama on energy policy.  If gas prices remain high, we will likely hear more from Romney supporters on his plans to provide more access to energy supplies and how it contrasts with the President’s policies to improve energy efficiency, diversify energy sources and increase clean energy sources.

While there will be a lot of talk about energy policy, action on the issue is unlikely until after Election Day.  Depending on the outcome of the November election we could see new efforts on a Clean Energy Standard (CES) and more energy efficiency incentives if President Obama is re-elected or efforts to ease access to fossil fuels if Mitt Romney is elected.  Look for more details on the candidates energy policies in an upcoming Grassroots Newsletter.



Costly Prevailing Wage Legislation Aimed at Utilities

The State Senate and Assembly are considering legislation in Albany that would require electric and gas utilities to pay prevailing wages to all contracted service employees.  It also makes the willful failure to file payroll records with the appropriate public agency a class E felony, and increases criminal penalties for failure to pay service work prevailing wages. 

Similar legislation was vetoed by then-Governor Paterson in 2010.  In his veto message, Paterson stated that the bill would increase utility costs as the state was struggling to recover from a lingering recession.

Con Edison opposes the bill because it would increase customer costs and subsidize wages for one specific group of workers.  Additionally, it will impose costly administrative monitoring and compliance burdens on the Company as well as local governments.

Specifically, utilities would be required to collect extensive data on their service contracts, maintain and audit weekly payroll records from contractors, determine the number of hours worked, each employee’s pay rate, and benefit payments made. 

Finally, the measure could harm many small and minority-owned entities.  These companies are often able to compete with larger competitors by submitting more cost-effective service bids.  New wage mandates imposed by the bill could threaten the cost advantage that these smaller, community-based contractors might need to remain competitive.


City Council Passes Bill to Examine Hydroelectric Options

The City Council passed legislation last month requiring an analysis of the city’s water supply as a potential source for hydroelectric power.

Above: Turbine being placed in Manhattan's East River
Photograph by Kris Unger/Verdant Power, Inc

The analysis will be conducted by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and will take 18 months to complete. City officials hope that generating hydroelectric power will help the city reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

The city’s water supply, wastewater treatment facilities and natural waterways will all be looked at as possible sources of hydroelectric power. The economic feasibility of hydroelectric projects at specific sites will also be assessed and delivered to the Mayor’s office and the City Council after the study is completed.

The council passed the bill unanimously.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said New York City is "behind the tide" in hydroelectric power, especially given the city's large water supply and natural waterways. Other cities, she said, are already generating a significant portion of their energy from hydroelectricity.



Con Edison Hosts One-Day Career Fair

In October of 2011, Con Edison participated in the Fresh Air Fund's Job Shadowing program. The program is designed to expose minority students, aged 12-14, from under-served neighborhoods to different career paths. This spring, students and their parents attended a one-day career fair at Con Edison's Learning Center in Long Island City. Con Edison President Craig Ivey spoke to students about the importance of education, values, and not letting where you come from dictate where you will end up. To watch clips from the speech, click here or the photo below.




The next 'Lunch and Learn' will take place May 23 on Staten Island at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center.



CIVICS QUIZ

What's the name of architect who designed the White House?

Submit your answers to grassroots@conEd.com with "Civics Quiz" in the subject line for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see a Roundabout Theatre performance.

Congratulations to Frank Odessa who correctly answered the last quiz question: "Which presidents are honored on Mount Rushmore?" The answer is George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Mr. Odessa won two passes to participate in the Bike New York ride on May 6.

The sculptures carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, represent the first 130 years of history in the United States.

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