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The Niagara Power Coalition is preparing to make a pitch to bring electricity to the Buffalo Niagara region from the Franklin D. Roosevelt-St. Lawrence Power Project in Massena.

Mark S. Zito, who heads the coalition, said at Wednesday's meeting that the group is trying to move quickly on the issue because the New York Power Authority's contracts to sell some St. Lawrence power out of state expire in June.

Not so fast, said Power Authority spokesman Jack Murphy. "Technically, the contracts expire June 30, but there is a provision for the (Power Authority) trustees to extend the contracts to when the (St. Lawrence plant's) license expires, which is in September of 2003," Murphy said.

But the effort to get the St. Lawrence power sent here is part of a Power Coalition budget for this year of as much as $232,500. It includes potential litigation over power allocation issues, which Zito said would be a last resort.

"They're selling (St. Lawrence electricity) out of state cheaper than they're selling it in-state," Zito said. "That can't be good for the local economy. We're entitled by state law to go after that power. . . . We believe that power should stay in New York State and be given to the Niagara Power Coalition for our municipalities."

Murphy said the power sold to Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Ohio is sold at the same price charged within New York for "preference customers," which include 47 municipal utilities and four rural electric cooperatives.

He said the St. Lawrence plant's federal license requires it to make "reasonable" amounts of power available to other states. Currently it sends 68 megawatts, or 8 percent of the plant's capacity, out of state.

Zito said the coalition of western Niagara County communities is not straying from its original goal of representing local interests in the upcoming relicensing process for the Niagara Power Project. "Our mission was to get cheap power for Niagara County," he said. "And we're not leaving Erie County out of it."

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