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CONTRACTOR IS CHOSEN FOR OXBOW PLANT N. TONAWANDA SESSION TO MULL TAX ABATEMENT

Oxbow Power Corp. Tuesday named Clark-Kenith of Bethesda, Md., as builder of the $64 million steam and electricity co-generation plant in North Tonawanda.

Meanwhile, Common Council President Thomas M. Jaccarino announced that the Council and Mayor Elizabeth C. Hoffman will meet in a workshop session next Tuesday to decide how much -- if any -- tax abatement for Oxbow the city can afford.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency has accepted Oxbow's application for $52 million in industrial-revenue bonding for the project. The IDA asked the city for its recommendation on tax abatement, although that decision is solely the IDA's.

Jaccarino also announced that the Common Council, with company officials, will hold a public hearing at a time to be announced between Jan. 8 and 15 on the overall Oxbow proposal.

City approval of the Oxbow project is not required, but the company wants the city's cooperation and approval. First proposed as a coal-fired plant some time ago, the project sparked strong community opposition on environmental and other grounds. The company subsequently changed its plans and said it would build a gas-fired facility.

Jaccarino said that while he still is reserving his support until he sees the overall proposal, he expects that Oxbow will receive the Council's "wholehearted" approval if an agreement can be worked out on taxes.

Mayor Hoffman, a supporter of the project, said Tuesday night in response to Oxbow's designation of Clark-Kenith as turnkey contractor, that she will insist that union labor be used to build the plant.

The plant will be on 5 acres of a 13.2-acre site Oxbow has an option to buy from the American Optical Corp. at 1070 Erie Ave. The tract was the former site of National Grinding Wheel.

Vincent Zodiaco, project manager for Oxbow, headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla., announced the signing of a letter of intent with Clark-Kenith as builder of the 54-megawatt, combined-cycle, gas-fired plant. It will be known as the North Tonawanda Co-generation Facility.

"Electric power will be sold to Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. of Syracuse under a 30-year contract," Zodiaco said.

"Steam will be sold to local industrial users, including a commercial greenhouse which will be developed on the same Erie Avenue tract," he said. He did not name the industries, saying negotiations are continuing with potential steam power users.

Zodiaco said final details of a $40 million to $50 million construction contract with Clark-Kenith will be completed "sometime in early 1991.

He added that plans are to begin building by next summer.

"Following completion of construction and testing, the facility is expected to enter commercial operation in the late summer of 1993," he added. "The full development cost of the facility is estimated to be in excess of $64 million." Oxbow has formed an affiliate, Oxbow Power of North Tonawanda, N.Y. Inc. to manage the plant. The affiliate does not have a local office yet.

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