Gabryszak: Hydroelectric Proceeds Must Benefit Western New York
July 6, 2010

Niagara Falls, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders and economic engines, empties at our feet, yet many Western New Yorkers haven’t felt a drop of its providence. Instead, they watch the lion’s share of the falls’ hydroelectric proceeds pass them by. In the midst of a historic recession, we can’t afford to let local opportunities like this one slip away, which is why I authored legislation that would return some of the homegrown dividends to their source: our backyard (A.8712-A).

As it stands, 695 megawatts of the Niagara Power Project’s production, branded Replacement and Expansion Power, is set aside for use within a 30-mile radius of the Lewiston plant. Any unused power is sold on the open market, and the profits are rolled back into the New York Power Authority (NYPA), never to be seen again.

Under my bill, the excess power would still be sold, but the profits would be paid into a newly created coffer: the Western New York Economic Development Fund. Public, private and not-for-profit entities located within that same 30-mile radius could then apply for their share of money, which would be awarded to community-minded applicants demonstrating job-creation and retention potential, and a commitment to advancing Western New York – merits that would be evaluated by the Western New York Advisory Group.

The measure, long proposed by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, stands to benefit not only area businesses vying for a slice, but our entire region. The funds promise to encourage new development, spur rehabilitation efforts, entice new employers and grow needed jobs.

While other communities struggle for answers to a crippling recession, we’ve developed a program that will provide economic opportunity. Helping WNY business thrive by fostering economic growth will create jobs and improve our local quality of life.

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