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National Grid customers say "no" to rate hike at hearing

Power customers told the state's Public Service Commission to switch off a proposal for higher energy bills.
via Flickr
Power customers told the state's Public Service Commission to switch off a proposal for higher energy bills.

Power rate hike
A hearing into a $400 million rate hike for National Grid customers yesterday turned out a number of speakers against the proposal.  But as the Post-Standard reports, Deborah Warner, a vice president for the Syracuse region's economic development group, CenterState, did speak in favor of the increase:

Warner praised National Grid’s efforts to support local business development. And she pointed out that the utility has hired new workers for a “transactions delivery center” in downtown Syracuse, to handle back-office work for the company’s U.S. subsidiaries. “Because there is a strong return on investment of National Grid resources in our region, we urge you to support their rate request,” Warner said.

The Post-Standard updated throughout the hearing, and the transcript is still up.

Power to the phone company
Yesterday we reported that Verizon has been offered 25 megawatts of cheap hydropower if it locates to western New York.  That's a pretty sweet perk, on top of payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deals and other incentives brokered by Niagara County.  So who's competing with WNY to site the data center?  Wyoming, according to the Buffalo News.  The word comes from the head of New York's power authority: he tells the paper "it's going to take a personal push" to seal the deal.

Frickin’ lasers
The Democrat and Chronicle has a feature about a big laser conference that's happening in Rochester this week.  The Innovation Trail's Zack Seward is all over this - yesterday he covered the annual "laser clambake," an invite-only event for optics professionals.  And today he's heading to a laser maze. 

Smaller government
Downsizing the Erie County legislature will be on the ballot on Tuesday.  An appeals court has given the green light, according to the Buffalo News.  Reducing legislatures has been forwarded as a cost-cutting measure.

College rankings
The Democrat and Chronicle reports that two Rochester-area colleges are getting greener, based on a ranking by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.  The University of Rochester gets an A- and  Hobart and William Smith rose to a B+.  The Rochester Institute of Technology held steady at a B.

220 jobs to be cut
A transmission plant in DeWitt, outside Syracuse, plans to shut down.  The toll: 220 workers will lose their jobs.  The plant is part of Magna Powertrain, and the Post-Standard reports that the company is pinning the blame on unions:

Magna announced last year that it was closing the plant after United Auto Workers Local 624 three times rejected a contract that cut wages and benefits, which the company said it needed to keep the DeWitt plant open.

Lieutenant Governor Duffy?
The Democrat and Chronicle's Vote Up blog has a look at how Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy's experience in reforming the city's economy could play out if his ticket is elected to the governor's mansion.

The hunt for low-cost airfare
The federal government has written Syracuse's airport a check for $500,000, to help it recruit a low-cost air carrier.  Currently the airport doesn't have a South West or AirTran equivalent (Buffalo and Rochester do, respectively).  But it does, according to the Post-Standard, have some of the highest costs of air service in the nation."

No property tax cap
It looks like a cap on property taxes is off the table - at least for the remainder of the Paterson administration.  The Democrat and Chronicle reports that the legislature will be called back to Albany after the elections, but that a cap won't be on the docket.  It's something the next governor will have to take up.

Chip fab
The Times-Union updates us on the need for new infrastructure at the future of site of a chip fabrication plant for GlobalFoundries.  According to the paper, whether the firm builds one factor or three all comes down to "water, money and power."

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