Stewart P. Blinco believes that "$1 billion is peanuts."
"We should get $1 billion a year," the Hillside Drive resident told members of the Lewiston-Porter School Board on Tuesday. "You're (losing out) and you don't even know it."
Blinco's words were directed at the New York Power Authority's proposed settlement with the Niagara Power Coalition, an agreement that would result in $1 billion in cash and low-cost electricity going to seven municipalities and school districts over the next 50 years.
The coalition was formed more than 10 years ago by the Niagara County Legislature, the City of Niagara Falls, the towns of Niagara and Lewiston and the Niagara Falls, Lewiston-Porter and Niagara-Wheatfield school districts to obtain economic benefits from the hydroelectric producer before it gets relicensed to operate for 50 more years by the federal government in 2007.
Blinco delivered his remark as coalition Chairman Mark Zito gave details about the proposed settlement, which could bring the district more than $1.3 million in cash and low-cost power annually for 50 years.
Zito said the School Board's share would include an upfront, one-time cash payment of $1.12 million that could be handed over as early as next year if the agreement is approved by coalition members once the Power Authority is relicensed and the negotiations completed.
It also would provide the school district a minimum of $725,000 a year in proceeds from the sale of a 24-megawatt block of power or a minimum of $36.25 million over the next 50 years.
The district would also receive an additional $420,000 a year ($21 million over 50 years) in recreation funds to develop or improve facilities connected to the 40-mile Niagara River park system.
It also would receive low-cost hydropower over the period to reduce annual power costs for school district facilities. The savings is estimated at up to $200,000 a year.
Blinco blamed the Power Authority for an adverse economic impact on the community.
"Now everyone is dying here," he said. "We have no young people left."
Zito agreed that the federal and state hydroelectric operations hurt the area. He said the cost of power went up by 33 percent and sent away industry, along with 17,000 manufacturing jobs, from 1957 to 1962.
Coalition members that have yet to approve the deal are the School Board, the Town of Lewiston and Niagara-Wheatfield School Board.
Board members were to discuss the issue during a special meeting today and expect to vote on it Tuesday.