Many St. Lawrence County towns, villages now one step closer to municipal power system
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - 6:14 am

Municipalities in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties are one step closer to developing a municipal power system that will save residents and businesses money on their energy bills.

The state Senate and Assembly Monday approved the North Country Power Authority legislation.

“For over a decade now the Alliance for Municipal Power (AMP) has been working to establish a municipal power system to provide much needed low-cost power,” said Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, the ranking majority member of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

AMP is comprised of the towns of Brasher, Canton, Colton, DeKalb, Edwards, Fowler, Gouverneur, Hermon, Lisbon, Louisville, Madrid, Norfolk, Pierrepont, Potsdam, Russell, Stockholm, and Waddington and the Villages of Canton, Norwood, and Potsdam in St. Lawrence County and Bombay, Fort Covington, Moira and Westville in Franklin County.

Since the late 1990s, AMP, based in Canton, has united the interests of the 24 towns and villages, and more than 95 supporting organizations—chambers of commerce, colleges, schools, business development corporations, unions, and more—to work toward a goal of providing low-cost municipal power for economic development and a reduced cost of living for residents.

The legislation would provide AMP towns and villages with the ability to explore implementing owning and operating the transmission and distribution of electric power over the next 10 years.

The initiative could provide thousands of New Yorkers with significantly reduced rates, more reliable service, and local control, supporters say.

Preliminary studies indicate the annual savings for rate-payers in the millions of dollars, as well as an average system-wide rate reduction of 4 percent.

Now, “we are even closer to reaching our goal. It’s been a long road to this point, but with the combination of strong support at the local level, and tremendous leadership in Albany, we were always confident we could clear this critical hurdle,” said AMP Chair Robert Best.

AMP Vice Chairman Wade Davis said, “We are closer today to what we have been working for over many years—municipal power that will significantly reduce rates and provide more reliable service through local control. Towns, villages, libraries, fire districts, chambers of commerce, and many other groups from across the region have signed on in support of our goal.”

While towns and villages are allowed by law to form a municipal electric company, the small and rural communities have opted to work together to further reduce costs.

AMP’s mission is to establish this regional public power utility through the acquisition and operation of the existing distribution system for communities within the AMP area.

The legislation was sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Addie Russell.

"We need resources that will assist in economic development and growth. This bill is an excellent step in the right direction, and is an example of how we can take control of our own destiny and pull ourselves up out of our financial troubles," said Russell.

Russell noted that the bill is the product of over ten years of work from AMP in conjunction with state and local leaders, including

Aubertine, Sen. Joseph Griffo, former Sen. Jim Wright, and Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava.