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River Agency looks to cash in on low-cost power

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LOUISVILLE – The St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency and state representatives are moving ahead with legislation that would allow the agency to use proceeds from the sale of low-cost power not being used to help businesses.

The River Agency recently secured 20 megawatts of low-cost power from the New York Power Authority for economic development. The original contract granting the power, which was rejected two years ago, also allowed the River Agency to sell on the open market whatever power was not granted to businesses and use the profits to spur economic growth.

That ability was considered outside the scope of NYPA’s powers under state law, and was a reason why the original power contract was rejected by former Gov. David A. Paterson.

The ability to sell unused power was not included in the signed contract, but the River Agency’s board and staff are working with the region’s elected state officials to adopt legislation allowing it, River Agency Chairman Robert O. McNeil said Tuesday.

River Agency attorney Eric J. Gustafson said state lawmakerrs and representatives will meet soon to develop legislation.

“We’re working toward it,” Mr. Gustafson said. “We don’t have any specific progress to report currently. There are a lot of agencies involved, and we have to make sure to get the language right.”

Agency officials have said although they have known for some time that legislation would likely be needed allowing the River Agency to sell unused power, no progress could be made on that front until the 20 megawatts were secured. The contract granting the power was signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last month.

“Last legislative session, we didn’t have the power contract yet, so now that we have the power contract in place, the idea of getting legislation to monetize — well, there’s one less hurdle to overcome,” said Massena Electric Department Superintendent Andrew J. McMahon.

MED will administer the power on the River Agency’s behalf.

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