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Niagara asks more power for town

Town of Niagara Supervisor Steven C. Richards wants other Niagara Power Coalition members to give his town a half megawatt of electricity, but officials from Niagara Falls and Niagara County disagree on how that should happen.

The town needs the power in order to bring its total allocation to one full megawatt, Richards told coalition members during a meeting Thursday in the Niagara County Center for Economic Development. Obtaining that quantity of power would in turn allow the town to establish its own entity capable of receiving the electricity, known as a municipal distribution agency, Richards said.

"I'm in a little tight spot," Richards said, adding that he believes being without the full megawatt means the town would lack flexibility and affect its "ability to protect the future."

The town is already set to receive a half megawatt of low-cost hydropower Sept. 1 through a settlement signed in June 2005 with the New York Power Authority.

Under the agreement, each of the seven coalition members will receive a share of 25 megawatts of cheap electricity and annual cash payments totaling at least $8 million over the next 50 years.

The coalition consists of Niagara County, Niagara Falls, the towns of Lewiston and Niagara as well as the school districts of Niagara-Wheatfield, Niagara Falls and Lewiston-Porter.

The group formed in the early 1990s in preparation for collective settlement negotiations with the Power Authority for the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project.

The amount of electricity set to arrive to each member through the settlement was based on each member's usage. Under the agreement, Niagara County is set to receive 9 megawatts, the largest allocation of any coalition entity.

One megawatt of electricity is estimated to supply enough energy for 800 to 1,000 homes.

Richards said he has proposed that the other six coalition members each give the town .08 megawatt, which he estimates has a present value of about $20,000.

Niagara Falls Mayor Vince Anello said he supports Richards' request but wants the county to supply the half megawatt. Anello accused county officials of changing which county entities they plan to allocate their share of the electricity to.

R. Thomas Burgasser, assistant county attorney, said the county agreed during negotiations to take less cash in exchange for a greater allocation of electricity.

"We're going to be looking for cash back," Burgasser said.

Angelo Massaro, attorney for the Niagara Falls City School District, asked the group's attorney to look into whether a "gift" of electricity from one municipality to another is legal.


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