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Hydro plant profits dry up due to drought

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The drought has put a damper on city hydroelectric plant revenues.

Revenue generated from the city’s hydroelectric plant off Marble Street is down about $750,000 — from $3.52 million in 2010-11 to $2.76 million at the end of the fiscal year in June — from last year.

City officials blame the shortfall on the drought.

Revenue depends on the amount of rain that goes into the Black River, and it has rained very little.

It’s been so dry that the plant has not generated a single kilowatt in July, said Water Superintendent Michael J. Sligar. The plant’s three turbines can produce 24,000 kilowatt hours annually during optimum conditions.

“It’s all Mother Nature,” he said.

July is traditionally a slow month for generating power, but this summer “it’s unusually dry,” Mr. Sligar said.

After using the energy from the hydroelectric plant for city buildings, the city sells its excess power to National Grid for 15.49 cents per kilowatt hour. But the city has not been able to sell any power to them this month.

“We’re getting hammered,” Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said.

With the loss of projected hydroelectric revenues, Mr. Graham hopes to make up ground with the amount of money the city will generate through the sale of property.

The city has taken over an unusually high number of properties this year — two commercial buildings, seven houses and a vacant lot.

The Fort Drum Storage building at 753 Rear W. Main St., the former Dr. Strange tattoo shop at 606 Factory St. and the other properties have been assessed at $635,600. If they were sold at their assessed value, the city would more than recoup the loss in hydroelectric money, city officials said.

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