Cape Wind Project is Exhibit #1 for Massachusetts High Cost of Energy

Posted by Robert Rio on Jun 17, 2010 12:48:00 PM

The facts are the facts.  If approved, Cape Wind will represent the largest ratepayer commitment in recent history - a decades-long mortgage paid by ratepayers. 

In today’s Boston Herald, the developers of Cape Wind are attempting to silence this and other significant facts about the project.  AIM recently filed as a full intervener in the review of the National Grid and Cape Wind project proposal citing significant cost implications in addition to a substantial lack of transparency with the proposal.

The ongoing controversy with Cape Wind is now being discussed in public hearings and provides a primary example of the state’s current posture – increase the cost of electricity on Massachusetts businesses and ratepayers to pay for boutique projects like Cape Wind.  Today’s Boston Globe highlights the ongoing public debate regarding Massachusetts’ public policy toward electricity which has resulted in increased costs for businesses and ratepayers. FOX 25 television also aired a story recently about the staggering costs of the project.

AIM’s filing shows how the Cape Wind project provides another example of how Massachusetts will again have a "significant impact" on employers and should concern all Massachusetts ratepayers.  Among other significant concerns, the association has already expressed the following about the project:

  • It threatens to raise already high electric bills by $50,000 to $100,000 for medium-sized companies in the first year alone and
  • This additional cost is on top of the $2-$3 billion dollars added in recent years to subsidize other renewable energy projects and programs

Employers are not silent about these cost increases.  Wal-Mart, an AIM member, also filed complaints regarding the project’s costs.  In today’s Boston Globe, the employer questioned the National Grid’s cost estimates and how the cost will be passed on to customers.

AIM supports a diversified energy portfolio to meet the Commonwealth's energy demands, which should include cost effective renewable energy initiatives.  Cape Wind is not the answer.  The Cape Wind project is double the price of other renewable energy sources and there are other ways to get to the same goal in manner that is much cheaper and does not come at the expense of losing Massachusetts headquartered businesses and jobs.  Employers and jobs are leaving the state or at worse shuttering because Massachusetts has one of the highest costs of electricity in the nation.

AIM members can contact Robert Rio, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, by callling 617-262-1180 or by email for more information about these cost implications for your business.

Topics: Massachusetts economy, Massachusetts employers, Environment, Energy, Cape Wind, Business Costs, Common Wealth 2010

AIM's Government Affairs Offers Opportunity to Engage on Issues

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Apr 28, 2010 11:54:00 AM

Yesterday, John Regan, AIM's Executive Vice President of Government Affairs hosted IssueConnect a monthly live webinar which updates members on economic trends in Massachusetts and provides an opportunity to engage on all the public policy issues that affect your bottom line - taxes, health care costs, and proposals to mandate seven sick days and other benefits.  Should you have any questions or feedback, please contact John Regan, AIM’s Executive Vice President of Government Affairs or 617-262-1180.

Register here for the next IssueConnect webinar scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, 2010.  Join us to address the pressing issues of the employer community.

In addition to The Business Insider blog, connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Here are a few of the answers to questions posed by members during April's IssueConnect:

Does AIM support state legislation to allow municipal government to join the state healthcare plan known as the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) to relieve municipal budgets and reduce pressure on state aid?
AIM supports granting Massachusetts municipalities the ability to alter health care plan design, without having to bargain those changes with municipal unions.  Municipal health insurance costs have increased at double-digit rates annually since 2000 – more than five times the rate of inflation – growing from just 6 percent of municipal budgets in 2001 to a projected 20 percent by 2020, according to a Mass. Taxpayers Foundation analysis.

Two straightforward changes would provide large and immediate savings in health costs, dwarfing the savings from all other municipal relief proposals:

  • Give local officials the power to design their health insurance plans outside of collective bargaining.
  • Require by statute that all eligible local retirees enroll in Medicare as their primary source of health insurance coverage.

In both cases, these changes would merely provide municipal leaders with the same tools as the state to manage health insurance costs and bring the extraordinarily generous benefits of municipal employees – the last bastion of the $5 co-pay – in line with state employees.

Allowing municipalities to change their health benefits outside of collective bargaining – as has long been done by the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) – would save cities and towns roughly $100 million in the first year alone and as much as $2 billion annually by 2020.

What do you see as potential growth areas for jobs?
The largest growth in the next few years is likely to be in some of the more cyclical industries.  We’ll see gains in business/technical/professional services, especially at the higher end (most of the gains so far have been temp employment), and leisure/recreation (e.g., restaurants).  These should pick up as the economy begins to expand in earnest.

Among the industries specifically hit, some parts of construction (not office buildings), and also manufacturing, are likely to regain lost jobs.  There’s unlikely to be much growth in government jobs, and there could be further significant losses.

Health services will continue to be strong, education probably less so.

How does the national and state healthcare reform efforts impact job creation?
Healthcare costs are one of the top issues continually raised by employers and business leaders trying survive and grow their companies.  AIM’s board of directors decided that participating in reform and cost containment efforts provides employers the best opportunity to help solve the long-term health cost problem – which currently strains employer’s ability to create jobs.  AIM believes that sustainable job creation in the Commonwealth requires significant commitment by public policy decision makers and all stakeholders to address to cost of healthcare.

In early April, Rick Lord AIM’s President and CEO spoke with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her staff at length about the decision by Massachusetts businesses in 2006 to work with government, health-care providers, insurers and consumer groups to develop a framework of shared responsibility to expand health insurance coverage.  Recently, Sandy Reynolds, AIM’s Executive Vice President commented about the impacts of the federal law on Massachusetts.

AIM offered comments on the ongoing state healthcare cost containment proposals to tackle health-care costs for small businesses; we made clear that any solution must involve both insurers and providers. AIM believes that the time is now for offering some relief and we cannot let the fact that the solutions are hard to implement or disruptive of the status quo be an excuse for not forging ahead to resolve the health care cost conundrum.  AIM recently commented on an initial public policy plan outlined by the Senate President and we are committed to work with the Administration and the members of the General Court as healthcare cost containment measure move through the legislative process.

Our opportunity to address the high cost of healthcare in the Commonwealth has arrived. We invite you to join us in that effort.

Has AIM taken a position on the Sales Tax Ballot question?
Not at this time.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Employers, Massachusetts economy, Massachusetts employers, Human Resources, Richard Lord, Common Wealth 2010, John Regan, Policy

Meet the New Economy, Same as the Old Economy

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Feb 8, 2010 10:03:00 AM

Policymakers in Boston and Washington love to paint new-economy jobs as an economic panacea, immune to high taxes, staggering electricity costs and bureaucratic regulation. But AIM President Richard C. Lord argues that business costs matter just as much in the new economy as they did in the old. His comments came in a Sunday Boston Globe Op-Ed piece describing AIM's Common Wealth 2010 policy objectives.

High-technology, biotechnology, and clean-technology jobs respond to the same economic influences that determine whether any job will provide economic opportunity to citizens of Massachusetts - or to citizens of Michigan or citizens of China. Innovation remains critical to economic growth, but government must also commit to supporting commercialization and the employment opportunities it will create.

Our economic future depends upon the ability of the Commonwealth to create a favorable business environment across all industries. The alternative is an "invented here, made elsewhere'' economy that provides opportunity for doctoral-level researchers, but leaves other citizens out in the cold.

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Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Taxes, Massachusetts, Business Costs, Common Wealth 2010

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