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Schumer gets apology on rebuff by state agency Power Authority now open to meeting

The New York Power Authority reversed itself Thursday after refusing to meet with Erie Niagara's congressional delegation on the issue of increasing future aid to Buffalo and Erie County in the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who asked the Power Authority for the conference, said authority Chairman Joseph J. Seymour called him and "apologized" for an aide's earlier statement rebuffing the senator.

Authority spokesman Brian Vattimo confirmed that Seymour called Schumer when he first learned that Power Authority officials had said no to Schumer's proposal for a conference. Vattimo said the authority is drafting a letter asking Schumer to set up the meeting. Vattimo did not explain why the authority had first turned down a chance to confer with the delegation.

The meeting will deal with efforts by Rep. Brian M. Higgins, D-Buffalo, the Buffalo Common Council and the Erie County Legislature to secure more money as part of the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston.

Higgins has proposed that the authority increase its offer of $2 million a year to $10 million a year, indexed for inflation, over the 50-year term of the federal license for the Power Authority to continue operating the power project.

Meanwhile, County Legislator Timothy M. Kennedy, D-Buffalo, denounced County Executive Joel A. Giambra for trying to undercut efforts of the House and Senate delegation to negotiate more compensation.

Kennedy said Giambra was "trying to broker" the settlement in "defiance" of the local congressional delegation and the County Legislature, which voted unanimously last spring to reject the authority's offer.

Giambra said he entered negotiations when talks between the County Legislature and the Common Council became deadlocked.

As for Kennedy's accusation, Giambra said, "civil dialogue will yield the best results for all."

e-mail: dturner@buffnews.com

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