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Kathy Hochul Gives Energy Discount to Poor, Needy Amazon

The 10.7 megawatt allocation to a soon-to-be-built Niagara facility comes on the heels of a $123 million tax break for the company.

9:19 AM EDT on March 23, 2023

Some kind of industrial building in New York City on a cloudy day. It definitely uses energy.
(Hell Gate)

Even if you're not one of the some 430,500 New Yorkers who fell 60 days or more behind on their electricity bills this past winter, you still probably felt the squeeze from energy price hikes across the state. It totally sucked, right? So imagine how Amazon must feel. 

If it costs so much money to keep the lights and gas on in your apartment where you generate (fingers crossed) enough money to live in New York City, the amount of money it must cost to help generate $510.4 billion in 2022 must be insanely stressful. Luckily, Governor Kathy Hochul is here to help. No, not you, sorry. She's here to help Amazon, with a 10.7-megawatt allocation of low-cost hydropower to help support a $550 million distribution center in Niagara that has yet to begin construction. (The future facility was also approved for a $123 million tax break by Niagara's industrial development agency this past summer.)

The e-commerce giant doesn't appear on the spreadsheet of companies set to receive ReCharge New York power allocations that the state's public power energy provider, the New York Power Authority, released on Wednesday. But Hochul's office touted the allowance as part of the same package of economic development awards that "will spur more than $20 billion in capital investments and support 8,336 jobs," including 3,930 brand new ones. 

Of course, according to the Niagara Gazette, watchdog groups and the town's residents have already raised concerns about the fact that Amazon employee pay hovers at $15 an hour in spite of all these state-sanctioned discounts. (They're also reportedly worried about traffic congestion caused by Amazon trucks driving to and from the distribution center.)

The Public Power NY Coalition, which continues to push Hochul to commit to the Build Public Renewables Act, a bill that aims to tie union labor and a commitment to renewable energy to the NYPA's ability to build and own public power projects, called Hochul out for delivering such a massive subsidy to "country’s most notorious union buster."

"At a time when utility rates have skyrocketed and almost 30 percent of New Yorkers were unable to pay at least part of their energy bill in the past 12 months," the group said in a statement, "it is laughable that she would direct utility discounts to Amazon in the name of 'economic development' instead of directing them to struggling New Yorkers."

One could argue that pushing a company like Amazon, bound to consume a shitload of energy anywhere its facilities sink their claws into, towards hydropower is a good thing, at least for the planet. It's definitely in line with the state's plan to transition to 70 percent clean energy statewide by 2030. The major difference is that when customers make the switch as New York state invests in renewables, unlike Amazon, we're going to be the ones footing the whole bill

Now, some links to help you power through Thursday: 

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