The Town Board took another step Monday night to protect the town's interests in New York Power Authority negotiations involving the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project.
Board members have been unhappy with their portion of a $1 billion relicensing settlement and its allocation of power as part of the Niagara Power Coalition.
The action Monday is expected to give the board a more direct role in the relicensing with the Federal Energy Regulation Commission and its own standing outside of the Niagara Power Coalition.
The Town Board voted 4 to 1, with Councilman John Ceretto abstaining, to hire Washington, D.C. attorney Paul V. Nolan for intervention proceedings between the Power Authority and the energy commission.
Nolan said the intervention protects the interests of the town.
"With an intervention, you don't just sit on the sidelines as a commentator. Lewiston will be part of the relicensing. They will know what they are agreeing to," Nolan said.
He said things like setting a relicensing term of 50 years don't have to be agreed to without discussion.
Supervisor Fred Newlin said of the intervention, "This gets us into the loop of correspondance and hearings when the dialogue begins between FERC and the Power Authority. The town has some issues that confront us outside of the Power Coalition, such as costs related to police and fire protection and infrastructure. We are unique among members of the coalition."
Newlin added that Nolan also will give the town access to a good outside analyst to look at the deal that has already been put on the table.
The Town of Lewiston is the only member of the seven-member Niagara Power Coalition to reject the Power Authority settlement terms.
Other members are Niagara County, the City of Niagara Falls, the town of Niagara and the Niagara Falls, Lewiston-Porter and Niagara-Wheatfield school districts.
The Town Board has agreed to spend $3,000 to use Nolan for a limited time to get the town enrolled in the intervention.