The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

May 24, 2013

Legislature says 'NYS should invest in itself'

Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — The Orleans County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution at Wednesday’s meeting calling on the state to invest in itself.

Legislator Lynne Johnson, reached by phone on Thursday, said the resolution was written in support of NORA (Niagara Orleans Regional Alliance) and is one drawing support for other local elected officials.

Essentially, the state is looking to supply power to New York City by purchasing hydroelectric power from Canada, thus bypassing power plants in Western New York.

“Senator (George) Maziarz used the term ‘ill-conceived’ and I agree with him,” Johnson said. Maziarz is the chairman of the New York State Senate Energy and Telecommunication Committee.

Johnson said Niagara County has “underutilized” power plants and the state would be better served investing its proposed $2.2 billion in itself.

“It makes more sense to invest the money here in our own state rather than taking this plan elsewhere,” Johnson said, noting how using what is available in the state would spur future economic development.

The resolution the county passed explained how the power company in Canada that would provide the power has already built up close to a $1 billion surplus. Creating a transmission pipeline would come at the “expense of existing New York State-based power producers, including Upstate New York Power Producers, Inc., which has repeatedly taken its Somerset power generating plant offline due to fluctuations in price in the coal industry as well as non-industry costs including government regulation of the coal industry.”

The resolution goes on to quote Gavin Donohue, President and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York, who called the state proposal “basically an electrical extension cord from Canada just flooding the marketplace in New York ... You have struggling areas in Upstate New York where smaller power plants are trying to make a go of it and this project will certainly take away huge ability of them to prosper in an economic development way.”

Johnson said the state should focus on enhancing the transmission system already in place in New York State. By spending state money in Western New York, local companies would be more able to stay in business, she said.