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Lawmakers will help River Agency cash in on its megawatts

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LOUSVILLE – A bill allowing the sale of proceeds of power is just a few months away from being introduced in the state legislature, according to officials.

Legislation is currently being drafted for the monetization of 20 megawatts of low-cost hydropower, St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency Chairman Robert O. McNeil said Tuesday.

In August, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a 13-year contract authorizing Massena Electric Department and the New York Power Authority to release the low-cost hydropower to entice new businesses and spur economic growth in St. Lawrence County. Language allowing the sale of the power was left out of the agreement that was ultimately approved by Gov. Cuomo.

The River Agency is now seeking state legislation allowing the power to be sold and its proceeds used to spur growth. The River Agency has been focusing its efforts to allow the sale of proceeds of that power to be put in the agency’s community grant and environmental improvement program fund.

The legislation River Agency and St. Lawrence County Inudstrial Development Agency officials seek mimics another measure that has already been approved for Western New York. The seven host communities of the Niagara project annually receive $5 million from the sale of 24 megawatts of power.

The town of Lisbon and towns and villages of Massena and Waddington passed resolutions this month requesting monetization.

Last week, Mr. McNeil, IDA CEO Patrick J. Kelly, and Massena Electric Department Superintendent Andrew J. McMahon met Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, and state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, in Ogdensburg to discuss drafting legislation.

“It was very productive,” Mr. McNeil said. “We were told a resolution is being drafted and will be introduced in the legislature within a matter of weeks.”

Mr. McNeil said he is “optimistic” both the senate and the assembly will approve the wording in the bill.

If the legislation is approved, the Massena Electric Department will sell the power and the proceeds will be given to the River Agency.

“Many things have to fall in place, but having representatives in both houses strongly supportive of this is encouraging,” Mr. McMahon said.

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