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Profits from unused power to go to WNY fund

The State Senate has approved a bill directing that earnings from the sale of unused discounted power by the New York Power Authority go into a new economic development fund exclusively for Western New York.

The Assembly has already approved the measure. Gov. David A. Paterson needs to sign the legislation before it goes into effect.

The legislation deals with the sale of unallocated discounted electricity known as expansion power and replacement power, which are used as economic development tools to support employers. The power may go unallocated for different reasons: a recipient might not be drawing its full allocation, its facility might not yet be operating, or a facility might close.

In the past, the Power Authority has sold the unallocated power on the open market. The legislation calls for the proceeds of those sales to be dedicated to public, private and nonprofit economic development projects in a 30-mile radius of the Niagara Power Project.

"Rather than having this money disappear into the Power Authority's vast coffers, it will be earmarked for economic development projects in our region," said State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, who sponsored the legislation. State Sen. William T. Stachowski, D-Lake View, co-sponsored the bill.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership has advocated creating the special fund, saying it could be used for purposes such as site preparation and infrastructure improvements, brownfield cleanups, adaptive reuse of existing buildings and enticing private-sector investments in the region.

As designed, the Western New York Advisory Group -- consisting of local economic development agencies that make power allocation recommendations to the Power Authority -- would solicit and review applications for grants from the fund.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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