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TOWN CONTINUES TO REJECT POWER PACT

The Town Board continues to reject its share of the $1 billion New York Power Authority 50-year relicensing agreement settlement, and residents came out Monday to applaud that decision.

Board members are satisfied with the cash portion of the offer, but they have rejected the portion of the settlement that divides up 25 megawatts among members of a coalition that is negotiating with the authority as one entity. That group includes Niagara County, the City of Niagara Falls, Town of Niagara and school districts of Lewiston-Porter, Niagara-Wheatfield and City of Niagara Falls.

Each megawatt is valued at $227,000 and the Town of Lewiston would receive three megawatts of power per year, while Niagara County receives nine; the City of Niagara Falls, seven; and the Niagara Falls School District, 3.59 megawatts. Other coalition members receive lesser amounts.

"Low-cost power for residents is what everyone said they wanted at the beginning of negotiations, but when they saw the cash, the rubber hit the road," Councilman Daniel Kilmer said of the other six members of the Niagara Coalition. "We are the only town to remain honorable to our residents."

Supervisor Fred Newlin and others on the board believe the distribution, based on municipal usage, is weighted unfairly against Lewiston, and want the town to receive closer to six or more megawatts, enough to provide low-cost power to the whole town, not just municipal buildings.

"The Power Authority occupies the most commercially viable land in the town, between the 190, Military Road and the Lewiston-Queenston bridge. That's a cost to Lewiston," Newlin said. "We provide all fire and police service, with volunteers asked to respond to (fire) calls. All we are asking for is our fair share."

Mark Zito, the chairman of the coalition, rejected the town's claim as host community.

"Every side has called itself the host community. As a person in the middle I had to facilitate and had to strike a deal. The issue of whether you like the $1 billion settlement or whether you like the deal (as it is divided up) are two separate issues," said Zito.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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