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Schumer criticizes inaction on methane-to-electricity plant

Sen. Charles M. Schumer said Tuesday he is impatient with inaction on an ambitious plan for a methane-to-electricity plant at the Chautauqua County landfill, designed to lower property taxes and spur economic development.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said New York Independent System Operator has failed to take action on the plan for nearly four months, stalling the project, which will harness 6.4 megawatts of methane power from the Ellery landfill and connect it to the electrical grid.

In April, Chautauqua County Executive Gregory J. Edwards and Peter H. Zeliff, president and chief executive officer of Innovative Energy Systems, signed a contract to begin the design, construction and operational phases of the project.

NYISO generally performs a preliminary review within 30 days, but Schumer said the agency is dragging its feet, jeopardizing an estimated $2 million in annual profits that Chautauqua County expects to receive and use to reduce property taxes.

The facility also would generate excess steam and heat, which the county plans on using to lure new businesses to the region.

"By failing to pull the trigger and make a decision on this deal, NYISO is jeopardizing a project that could usher in a windfall of benefits for Chautauqua," Schumer said in a news release Tuesday.

"This project is a win-win for Chautauqua that will deliver lower property taxes and attract new businesses to the region, which can access the excess steam and heat it will create,"Schumer added. "Today I'm calling on NYISO to quit dragging its feet and jump-start this project before Chautauqua residents miss out on a golden opportunity."

Schumer said the project has the dual benefit of harnessing a potentially harmful emission and increasing the power supply in Western New York, while providing a potential benefit to businesses and consumers.

e-mail: citydesk@buffnews.com

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