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Alliance awaits word after trip to D.C.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker journeyed to Washington, D.C., last week to try to win support for local groups seeking power or cash from the New York Power Authority, but he says he does not expect to hear about the results for a few days.

Tucker, chairman of the Eastern Niagara Power Project Alliance, said he met with staff members for Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer of New York and had a face-to-face meeting with Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence.

He was joined at the Senate offices by representatives from the Public Power Coalition, comprising the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda and the towns of Amherst, Tonawanda and Grand Island.

They, along with the 17 municipalities and school districts in the Eastern Niagara group, hope to win concessions from the Power Authority as part of the relicensing for the Niagara Power Project. The Power Authority's current license runs out Aug. 31.

The Niagara Power Coalition, comprising Niagara County and the immediate host communities in western Niagara, won a $1 billion, 50-year package of money and discount electricity.

Buffalo and Erie County received $279 million, reserved primarily for waterfront redevelopment.

But the Power Authority has refused to negotiate with the suburban groups unless the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is reviewing its relicensing bid, orders it to do so.

Tucker said his visit to Washington was aimed at bringing congressional pressure to bear on FERC to accomplish precisely that. He said, "We need somebody to direct FERC to direct NYPA to sit down and talk to us."

Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Schumer, and Nina Blackwell, a spokeswoman for Clinton, both said Friday that staffers were conferring on a plan of action and something might be made public early this week.

Tucker would not disclose exactly how much the groups want, but he said that at the meeting, "We laid out our hardships to them."

As the license-renewal date nears, Tucker said, "I sense [the Power Authority] is trying to tie up loose ends here."


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