Chamber of Commerce studies energy issues with winter on way

By Bill Parry

With winter approaching, the Queens Chamber of Commerce has formed an Energy Committee to inform and educate members who are responsible for thousands of jobs in the borough and region about energy-supply challenges facing Queens, promote solutions to meet demand with local resources, and accelerate regional economic growth.

The committee held its inaugural meeting Oct. 1 at its headquarters in the Bulova Building in East Elmhurst.

“The Queens Chamber of Commerce, through its Energy Committee, is looking to become the city’s thought leader when it comes to energy policy and educations,” Executive Director Jack Friedman said. “All businesses can benefit by taking advantage of new energy saving measures and programs that will not only help our environment, but also increase their bottom lines.”

The meeting also launched a speaker series focusing on current energy trends and topics relevant to the borough. Former state Assemblyman Arthur Kremer, who authored the state’s original power plant siting law and is now chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, was the featured speaker.

“Queens carries the bulk of the load for the metropolitan area, Kremer said. “The borough is home to more than 50 percent of the energy manufactured within New York City.”

Kremer added that, according to the City Finance Department, “Queens has the most utility properties and receives the most tax revenues from these assets, exceeding $1 billion annually.”

Kremer identified ensuring a reliable energy supply as a critical issue facing Queens due to the increased dependence on electronic devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers as well as electric vehicles, which are raising demand for electricity but New York is failing to create more supply.

“New York has become No! York’ on energy matters,” Kremer said. “Communities and environmental groups say no to all forms of power. This includes solar, wind projects, nuclear and infrastructure upgrades to increase access to natural gas on land or out in the sea.”

Kremer also noted last year’s brutally cold winter, caused by the polar vortex, resulted in spot-market natural gas prices skyrocketing by as much as 1,200 percent because of pipeline constraints. One way to reduce these weather-related spikes and lower gas prices overall, he said, is the Point Ambrose project, a proposed energy platform 20 miles off the coast that would tap into an existing gas pipeline that enters New York via Long Beach.

According to Kremer, the project would generate $500 million in economic development and dramatically increase natural gas supplies, while saving consumers at least $300 million annually.

“The bridge to a bright energy future involves utilizing the electricity generation assets we have today and looking towards new projects like Port Ambrose, while working with incubators and thought leaders to assemble all the pieces to find and nurture the next big thing to meet our energy needs,” Kremer said.

The Chamber and the Energy Committee anticipate holding an energy conference in the winter to connect businesses, policymakers and stakeholders to achieve the shared goals of increasing access to affordable, reliable energy sources to fuel economic growth in the borough.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr‌y@cng‌local.com or by phone at 7198.260.4538.