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Businesses return unused power

Two local businesses that received low-cost power allocations from Niagara County are giving some of it back.

Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser said Wednesday that deals have been made with Budwey's Market Place and Russell Farms, both in Newfane, to reduce the amount of electricity they receive from the county's Empower Niagara program.

The reductions were approved Wednesday by the County Legislature's Economic Development Committee and will go before the full Legislature Tuesday.

Burgasser said Empower Niagara audited the power used by its recipients and found that Budwey's and Russell Farms weren't using all they were given.

Budwey's, a supermarket, was given 250 kilowatts a year; that will be cut back to 175 kilowatts in exchange for a three-year extension of the allocation.

Russell Farms, a fruit processor, also received an extension in exchange for reducing its electricity take from 180 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts per year.

"Each one of [the agreements] would allow us to assist more businesses," Burgasser said. "Sometimes they consume to that [original] level, but sometimes they don't."

The result is that Empower Niagara gains 155 kilowatts it can give to other business.

Also Wednesday, the committee voted to apply for another $400,000 in federal money for the county's brownfields cleanup program.

Senior Planner Amy E. Fisk, president of the Niagara Brownfields Development Corp., said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contacted past recipients of its brownfield grants and asked them if they would like to apply for more grant money.

"We're the only ones in [EPA] Region 2 applying for this funding," Fisk said. That region includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Niagara County has received $1.9 million from the EPA for its brownfield revolving loan fund in the past.

"All of our current funding is committed to projects that are complete or are currently under way," Fisk said. "We have some [new] projects that will be ready to go, probably in six months."