Gov. Cuomo approves 20 megawatt power contract with Massena Electric and River Agency
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - 2:02 pm

MASSENA -- After years of effort, failed attempts and revisions, the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency has an approved contract that will allow for the allocation of 20 megawatts of low-cost hydropower for economic development.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the authorization of a power supply contract between the New York Power Authority and the Massena Electric Department, making available up to 20 megawatts (MW) of low-cost hydropower to help support economic development and job growth in St. Lawrence County.

The power contract extends to September 2025.

While the contract allows for the allocation of power, it does not allow the River Agency to sell the unallocated power on the open market, which could generate millions of dollars for economic development projects.

In the past, RVRDA Chair Robert McNeil, who represents the Town of Lisbon, said the agency would pursue that goal after the 20-megawatt contract was approved by the governor. But for now, the agency is focusing on the hard-fought step forward.

"Since its creation, the RVRDA has been working to promote new economic opportunities for the entire region. The 20 megawatts of low-cost power will be a valuable resource as the RVRDA moves forward with plans to attract new businesses to the North Country and to spur economic development. I want to thank the Governor and NYPA trustees for their efforts to finalize this power contract," McNeil said.

North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair Anthony Collins said, "The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is excited to work with RVRDA, IDA, and NYPA on providing a comprehensive package of incentives to spur growth and development in the region. Reliable, low-cost power is a huge advantage for many businesses. This will be another tool we have to help attract businesses and jobs to our region."

The Massena Electric Department (MED) will be authorized to make allocations from the 20 megawatts of hydropower—known as "St. Lawrence County Economic Development Power"—after consultation with the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency (RVRDA), the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency Local Development Corporation (IDA), and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. The proposed power allocations are then subject to review by the NYPA trustees for approval.

The power, from the New York Power Authority's (NYPA) St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in Massena will be sold to MED at cost-based rates, with the power resold to the qualified end users at no mark-up beyond costs incurred by MED. The power will be drawn from hydropower previously sold to out-of-state users and redirected to New York State during the 2003 federal relicensing of the St. Lawrence-FDR project.

"The 20 megawatts of power—as well as the $16 million in funding provided by NYPA for economic development in St. Lawrence County—demonstrates the Power Authority’s commitment to bring new jobs and businesses to the area. The combination of low-cost power and funding are valuable incentives that will give the North Country an advantage when it comes to assisting new and existing businesses with job creation," said St. Lawrence County IDA Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly.

Governor Cuomo said the contract will be a boon to the North Country’s economy.

"This contract will help make low-cost, clean power available to businesses and communities in the North Country, fueling additional job growth and economic development," Governor Cuomo said. "Our state's job creators need access to affordable power, and this contract continues the state's work to ensure our energy sector is equipped to help drive New York's economic recovery."

Senator Joseph A. Griffo said, "Today's good news emphasizes that Governor Cuomo was very aware of how important this initiative is to the North Country. I commend NYPA President and CEO Quinones and the Board for keeping the best interests of St. Lawrence's companies in mind. Affordable, reliable and clean energy is always near the very top of every business' wish list and now the opportunity is there to show that serious development is not just wishful thinking."

Senator Patty Ritchie said, "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this important measure. This low cost power allocation will result in new business and new opportunities for Northern New York. I look forward to continuing to work with the governor and NYPA to enhance economic development opportunities in the North Country."

 Assembly Member Addie Russell said, "By working together successfully to see this contract approved, we can now move forward to implement an economic vision for St. Lawrence County. Through the leadership of Governor Cuomo and the work of NYPA, our St. Lawrence IDA, the RVRDA, North Country Regional Economic Development Council, and Massena Electric Department will now have the ability to transform the economic future of this community."

Judge Eugene L. Nicandri, a NYPA trustee and resident of Massena, said, "MED’s ability to access and market the hydropower will provide St. Lawrence County and the host communities on the St. Lawrence River with a powerful tool to help attract new businesses to the region and support the expansion of existing businesses. Governor Cuomo’s commitment to follow through with this important initiative is going to be a catalyst for private sector development in the North Country."