NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - Money from a settlement with the nation's largest power provider will be used in New York to help low-income households cut their home heating costs.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said his office has created the Oil Efficiency Pilot Program, which will use $1.9 million from a $75 million settlement with American Electric Power for heating upgrades and weatherization in homes heated by oil.
AEP settled with eight states and the Federal Government in Oct. 2007. The plaintiffs alleged AEP did not install state-of-the-art air pollution controls in its plants and did not obtain proper permits. Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maryland were the states involved in the litigation,
"The burdensome cost of home heating oil is just another thing threatening to break the bank for New York families this winter," Cuomo said.
"But the pilot program we're announcing today does something no state initiative has done yet -- provides direct financial assistance to help New York's neediest families heat their homes more efficiently, which translates into immediate savings on their monthly bills."
Cuomo said he has secured $9.5 million from the settlement over the next five years for use in energy efficiency and air pollution reduction projects.
He also said about 3 million households in New York State rely on oil to heat their homes. At recent prices, he said, the cost for an average household to heat with oil this winter is approximately $2,400.
AEP also agreed in the settlement to reduce the emissions of sulfur dioxide from its eastern plants by 80 percent and oxides of nitrogen by 70 percent by installing the proper emissions controls.
It also agreed to pay a $15 million Clean Air Act civil penalty to the U.S. and provide $60 million for projects designed to lessen the harms to public health and environment allegedly caused.
Of that number, $36 million will go the U.S., which will use it on programs that will address any problems near AEP's plants, to improve National Forest Service park land allegedly impacted and to address pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.
The remaining total was to be shared by the other states for pollution reduction programs.
Cuomo said his program will pay for cost-effective electricity-saving measures, like lighting and refrigeration replacements.
Affected are 16 power plants and 45 generating units owned by AEP and located in Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline