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Sun., Dec. 21
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River Agency working with lawmakers on monetization language

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By AMANDA PURCELL

LOUISVILLE — Legislation allowing the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency to use proceeds from the sale of low-cost power for economic development could be crafted by the end of the month.

River Agency attorney Eric J. Gustafson told board members Tuesday that he, state Sens. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, and Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, are working to “construct language for legislation” that would require any proceeds from the sale of surplus power to sent to the region to grow and attract businesses.

“The amount of proceeds in excess of NYPA’s cost to produce power would be used for economic development,” said Mr. Gustafson.

River Agency and New York Power Authority officials have been developing a contract granting the agency 20 megawatts of low-cost power to entice businesses to open, expand and create jobs. An initial deal between the two entities would have allowed the River Agency to use as it saw fit money from the sale of any power not allocated to businesses. That deal was rejected in late 2010 by former Gov. David A. Paterson because it was outside the scope of NYPA’s powers under state law.

Under the latest proposal, any excess power not allocated to businesses will be sold by New York Independent System Operator to power companies. According to Mr. Gustafson, the law will require NYPA to put a value on the power sold and allow the River Agency, under guidance from the Massena Electric Department and St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, to grant that money to new and expanding businesses.

“Right now the current power allocation will be used to maximize the total number of jobs that can be created from power allocation. Low power costs would allow businesses to expand and employ more people,” Mr. Gustafson said. “Once we adopt this legislation, the idea is that we could open up criteria for allocation to more businesses.”

It is undetermined how businesses will be chosen for power or money allocations, but Mr. Gustafson said there will likely be an application process.

The contract granting the River Agency the 20 megawatts has been approved by MED, the IDA and the River Agency and has been granted preliminary approval from NYPA. After a public hearing on May 10, the contract will go before NYPA for final approval and be submitted to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for approval. The application process for qualified businesses will be developed after it is approved.

“Right now we are primarily involved in the promotion of power and its utilization toward financial assistance,” said IDA CEO Patrick J. Kelly.

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