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Contact: Lee Ziesche, info@publicpowerny.org, 954-415-6228

“Build Public Renewables, Not Prison Renewables” – Public Power NY blasts Hochul and Driscoll  

The Public Power NY Coalition released the following statement on Governor Kathy Hochul and New York Power Authority (NYPA) Acting President and CEO, Justin Driscoll’s Earth Week announcement celebrating NYPA designing and implementing solar at five state prisons.

“While we have been fighting tooth and nail to get the Governor to support building publicly owned renewable energy for New Yorkers who need it most, she’s been busy using the New York Power Authority’s capacity to install solar on prisons. 

Why is this bad? It’s just more solar panels, right?

Hochul and Driscoll could have directed NYPA to put solar on schools or municipal buildings that serve New Yorkers. Instead they chose to work with known human rights abusers. This decision, along with Hochul and Driscoll’s energy giveaway to Amazon earlier this year, shows us who this administration is willing to prioritize over working people. The low-cost energy being produced by these panels and the millions of dollars in savings should go to schools, which badly need retrofits, or working class New Yorkers, who are struggling to pay their energy bills. 

Holding hands with mega corporations like Amazon and DOCCS before utilizing NYPA as a public good proves that we need more accountable and transparent leadership of NYPA. The full Build Public Renewables Act would do that by expanding the NYPA board of trustees, something Hochul and Driscoll have vehemently resisted so they can continue to give affordable energy to labor and human rights violators.
Power must be used for the public good—not for building out prisons and subsidizing Amazon.”  

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has routinely violated laws against solitary confinement and sexually assaulted and abused people. Earlier this year Hochul and NYPA were condemned for giving away discounted energy to a protested Amazon facility in western New York. 

The greenwashing of prisons is a part of a pattern of climate blunders lately for Hochul. She received national criticism for her attempt to gut the Climate Leadership and Protection Act and is under fire for nominating a lawyer to the Court of Appeals who represented Chevron in the fossil fuel giant’s vindictive and chilling case against environmental lawyer Steve Donziger.  

In addition to removing provisions that would make NYPA more democratic and accountable, Hochul’s initial executive budget proposal removed robust labor standards, shutting down racist NYPA fossil fuel power plants by 2030 and a real mandate to build new projects. 

Politico is reporting that the Governor’s latest negotiating position included the nation-leading labor standards of BPRA and is moving toward supporting a mandate to build. 50+ organizations sent a letter to Governor Hochul yesterday urging her to include the full BPRA in the budget. 


Note to the editor:

About Public Power NY

The Public Power NY Coalition is a statewide movement of community and advocacy organizations, and thousands of New Yorkers fighting to pass the Build Public Renewables Act, the nation’s biggest climate bill. It will enable New York to unleash the New York Power Authority, the country’s largest public power provider, to build publicly owned, 100% renewable energy; slash energy costs for those who need it most; and create tens of thousands of green union jobs that will finally unionize the green energy sector. The bill is endorsed by unions representing over 1 million members in New York including 1199SEIU, NYSUT, PSC-CUNY, UUP, and UAW 9A.
Read our report: Public Power & Climate Leadership: Feasibility of 100% Fossil-Free NYPA