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Burns opposes Senate power legislation

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CANTON — A state Senate proposal to use proceeds from the sale of unallocated power to pay for economic development projects within a 40-mile radius of Massena’s hydrodam is bad for St. Lawrence County, a county legislator said Monday.

Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, the county Legislature’s representative on the River Valley Redevelopment Agency, said at a committee meeting that the proposal is at best unclear but could hurt the very county that should be its beneficiary.

“This proposal is ill-advised and should be withdrawn, now,” Mr. Burns said.

Mr. Burns did not ask fellow legislators to take a position because none of them have read the legislation, which is part of the budget amendment under consideration.

Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, supported by Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, has submitted a proposal for inclusion in the state budget that would allow for proceeds from the sale of unused power to be managed by a five-member board appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and for that money to go for initiatives within a 40-mile radius of the St. Lawrence-FDR hydropower project.

It is not clear whether the power referred to is preservation power, of which there is less than 2 megawatts available, and which is meant for use in Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties, or if Mr. Griffo means the 20 megawatts that the New York Power Authority and the governor agreed in a contract to allow the RVRDA and the Industrial Development Agency to use for economic development in St. Lawrence County, Mr. Burns said.

“Could this be the power that Sens. Griffo and Ritchie want to use?” Mr. Burns asked, “If so, then they should have taken the time to discuss this with members of the RVRDA and the IDA.”

Mr. Burns said the proposal was counterproductive in that the understanding was always that the 20 megawatts was for St. Lawrence County.

“Sens. Griffo and Ritchie’s proposal would now include a large section of Franklin County and remove an even larger section of St. Lawrence County from any benefit of that power,” he said. “To even suggest that Franklin County should derive benefits from any unallocated power is a slap in the face to residents outside the 40-mile radius and therefore all of St. Lawrence County.”

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