OU Advocacy-Teach NYS and Bipartisan Group of New York Legislators Introduce Bill to End "Utility Discrimination" Against Private Schools

Posted on June 13, 2013 In News, Press Releases

In a joint effort to create parity between public and private schools, OU Advocacy-Teach NYS and a bipartisan group of New York State legislators introduced the Energy Parity Act (A7820/S5667) into both the New York State Assembly and Senate in order to end the “utility discrimination” practiced by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) against private schools.

NYPA provides energy efficiency programs and electricity directly to many public schools throughout New York State at substantially reduced rates. These programs and reduced rates are not available to private schools.

Crafted by OU Advocacy-Teach NYS, the Energy Parity Act is sponsored by Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) and Senator Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), with Senator David Carlucci (IDC-Rockland County) serving as co-prime sponsor. The bill will give private schools access to the same energy efficiency programs and discounts that public schools receive, reducing their electricity bills by an estimated 50 percent. Should the bill become enacted as proposed, a school with a monthly electricity bill of $2,500 would save an estimated $15,000-$21,000 annually, while a school with a monthly bill of $40,000 would save an estimated $240,000 per year.

Additional co-sponsors of the Senate bill include Senators Addabbo, Carlucci, Dilan and Felder; co-sponsors of the Assembly bill include Assembly Members Brindisi, Borelli, Cusick, Goldfeder, Rozic, Simanowitz, Cymbrowitz, Maisel, Espinal, Abbate, Solages and Brook-Krasny.

“The Energy Parity Act is about fairness and ensuring that all schools in New York State enjoy the same benefits when it comes to low-cost electricity. This bill will lower operating costs for schools and allow them to focus on what is important—investing in and educating our children,” said Assemblyman Ryan.

“I am proud to stand here today and fight for equality in energy prices for non-profit and private schools. There is no reason why every school should not receive the same energy rates. These institutions serve our communities and they shouldn’t have to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars annually compared to public schools. I urge my colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly to pass this legislation, and I call on the Governor to sign it as quickly as possible,” said Senator Golden.

Tamar Eisenstat, a member of the Executive Advisory for SAR Academy and High School, an N-12 Modern Orthodox, Jewish day school in Riverdale, NY, commented that SAR spends more than $600,000 annually on electricity. “It is our estimate that this legislation will save us nearly 50 percent, or $300,000 annually, on our electric bills. This money will go directly to support our families and teachers,” said Eisenstat. “The Energy Parity Act is about equity. It does not come at the expense of the public school system, which plays a vital role in our community, but creates a level of fairness for all schools, families and children,” she said.

“From Brooklyn to Buffalo, this legislation affects families throughout all of New York. The bipartisan support we have received for this bill underscores how the rising cost of energy and the need to become more energy efficient impacts all schools, regardless of whether they are public or private. Having equal access to NYPA’s programs and discounted rates will provide basic equity to the private schools in New York State—which will also benefit our schools’ families and students,” said Jeff Leb, New York director of political affairs for OU Advocacy.

“We thank Assemblyman Ryan and Senator Golden for sponsoring the bill, Senator Carlucci for serving as co-prime sponsor and the wide group of legislators who have also signed on with their support of the Energy Parity Act. With their backing, we hope to bring energy parity into reality for all New York schools,” said Leb.

OU Advocacy and Energy Legislation

OU Advocacy is at the forefront of developing energy legislation that benefits nonprofit organizations. At the federal level, OU Advocacy worked with leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to include nonprofits—specifically faith-based organizations—in the retrofit subsidy program, and is working with leaders in the U.S. Senate to enact the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act, which would provide financial support to nonprofits to make their buildings more energy efficient.

Energy Parity Press Conf_6-12-13

Senator Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo), co-sponsors of the Energy Parity Act, along with a bipartisan group of supporting legislators, presented the bill that would end the “utility discrimination” practiced by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) against private schools.

Pictured (L-R): Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), James Cultrara, Director of Education for the New York State Catholic Conference, Assemblyman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island), Assemblyman Raphael Espinal (D-Brooklyn), Senator Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Far Rockaway), Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo), Jeff Leb, NY Director of Political Affairs for OU Advocacy, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), Tamar Eisenstat, Executive Board Member of SAR Academy and High School, Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (D-Seagate), and Maury Litwack, Director, State Political Affairs for OU Advocacy.