Last week, Unshackle Upstate joined with a number of other business groups to urge lawmakers to provide real tax relief to energy users by repealing the onerous ’18-a’ energy assessment.

Historically, a small assessment was imposed on utility bills to fund the operations of energy-related state agencies and authorities, such as the Department of Public Service (DPS) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).  But in 2009, when the state was facing a budget deficit, the 18-a assessment was increased six-fold.  This revenue does not pay for anything energy-related – it went straight into the state’s general fund.

Next year, the 18-a assessment will cost energy consumers about $300 million (and about $1.6 billion in energy-related taxes overall).

It’s time for lawmakers to recognize that high taxes and assessments are part of the reason why we pay some of the highest energy costs in the nation.   Albany can start to change that by eliminating the 18-a assessment in this year’s budget.