River Agency to focus on marketing 20 megawatts of hydropower at next meeting in Louisville
Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 6:25 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

LOUISVILLE -- The St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency will discuss how best to market the 20 megawatts of power recently approved for allocation by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at its next meeting.

River Agency Chairman Robert McNeil said the accomplishment was a long time coming, but with the contract signed, the board's focus has shifted to marketing.

"I was beginning to wonder if it would ever come about, but we have the contract. We are very excited about it and I think it is going to be a great tool for us to attract businesses to the area," McNeil said.

McNeil said the agency has already reached-out to Canadian and American businesses interested in the low-cost hydropower.

He said the 20 megawatts will be a huge incentive for businesses and a big win for economic development in St. Lawrence County.

"We have had a lot of interest on both sides of the river," McNeil said.

If last year's presentation from Toronto consulting company AITIA Analytics Inc. is any indication, the savings could be hard for businesses to resist.

A 2011 presentation from the firm, estimated that Ontario companies consuming 2 megawatts of power could potentially save $800,000 per year by utilizing the low-cost power.

For U.S. companies, the savings did not appear to be aquite as significant, but would still likely place the power prices among the most competitive offered in the country.

McNeil said he expects the board to begin discussing a marketing plan at the next River Agency meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Louisville Municipal Building

The contracts granting hydropower and $16 million for economic development resulted from negotiations between the Local Government Task Force, which represents St. Lawrence County and the towns of Lisbon, Waddington, Louisville and Massena, and NYPA to settle inequities regarding NYPA's 50-year relicensing settlement to operate the St. Lawrence-FDR hydropower project in Massena and the Niagara power project relicensing settlement in Western New York.

The River Agency was granted $16 million in 2010 for economic development and settled the contract for 20 megawatts of hydropower last week.

Under the agreement, the power from the 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 River Agency, the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency Local Development Corporation (IDA), and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, will propose allocations. The proposals are then subject to review by the NYPA trustees for approval.

For more information on the recently approved contract see earlier story.