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District joins power agency

Anticipating cheap power to begin flowing into district schools Aug. 31, 2007, the Lewiston-Porter School Board on Tuesday voted to join the Niagara County Municipal Distribution Agency to administer that resource.

The board also approved giving the agency $33,000 as its share of the operating costs this year.

All seven members of the Niagara Power Coalition -- Lew-Port, the towns of Lewiston and Niagara, Niagara County, the City of Niagara Falls, and the Niagara Falls and Niagara-Wheatfield school districts -- are considering joining the agency. The agency will handle the 25 megawatts of cheap electricity that will be received for each of the next 50 years as part of a deal it struck with the state Power Authority in return for its support of the federal relicensing to operate the Niagara Power Project.

The school district will receive 1.5 megawatts of cheap power as part of its share of the deal, along with about $725,000 in cash annually.

Board President David S. Schaubert said he expects the district to save about $380,000 a year in the cost of providing power to district buildings.

As for the annual Power Authority money, he said the board plans to use it to finance some of the $28.5 million in capital improvements to district facilities, especially mandatory projects needed to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act and to meet state health and safety regulations.

He said the board will be discussing what projects must be done in the next six to eight years during workshops it will hold March 7 and 14.

He said that by March 21, the board is expected to adopt a priority list of projects so taxpayers can vote on them in a May referendum.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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