Approximately $2 million per year for projects in St. Lawrence County follows through on commitment made in St. Regis land claim settlement
Albany, NY (June 16, 2014)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement with legislative leaders to create a new development fund devoted to spurring economic activity in the North Country. The agreement allows for the net earnings from the market sale of a block of unutilized hydropower from the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Hydroelectric Plant to be applied for economic development in St. Lawrence County. The use of the anticipated earnings of approximately $2 million a year is also consistent with commitments made under the recently announced St. Regis land claim agreement for payments to St. Lawrence County as part of the overall package of provisions settling the matter.
“This agreement adds another dimension to our efforts to spur economic development and growth in the North Country,” Governor Cuomo said. “By tapping into the region’s supply of unutilized hydropower, we can jumpstart the economy in the North Country, invest in local businesses and help create jobs and new opportunities for New Yorkers in St. Lawrence County. I want to thank the leaders of the legislature as well as the many local leaders who came together to support this important proposal.”
Under the agreement with state legislative leaders for the new legislation, up to 20 megawatts (MW) of hydropower that is made available under contract to the Massena Electric Department (MED) for “sub-allocations” to eligible businesses will also be harnessed for area economic development from the net earnings of the sale of the power into the wholesale electricity marketplace.
The net earnings, or “proceeds,” will be used to award grants to enterprises in St. Lawrence County from a Northern New York Economic Development Fund. An entity created by the legislation—the Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board—will recommend the awards from the fund on the basis of statutory criteria, including capital investments and jobs., The NYPA Board of Trustees will take into account the recommendations before making awards.
Since 2012, the 20 MW has been available for sub-allocation by the MED to businesses, at cost-based rates, in consultation with the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency (RVRDA), the Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency Local Development Corporation (IDA), and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. The monetized value of the power will now also be captured as a result of the new legislation. Both the RVRDA and the IDA will assist in administration of the fund and will provide input on grant applications working closely with NYPA and Empire State Development Corp.
Jonathan Putney, chairman of the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators, said, “This agreement to monetize megawatts into millions of dollars annually marks the beginning of a new chapter in energizing our economy through the creation of new jobs in our community. This bipartisan agreement creates new avenues of economic opportunity for our citizens and I want to thank Governor Cuomo and all other leaders involved in helping to secure these economic development funds for our area.”
Robert O. McNeil, chairman of the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency, said, “The River Valley Redevelopment Agency has been working for nearly four years to bring the monetized value of our economic development power to this area, something that has now been made possible. We commend the Governor and the state legislators from our area for working together to get this done and we look forward to helping to maximize the local benefits from this unique new resource.”
Patrick J. Kelly, chief executive officer of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, said, “Today's announcement significantly increases the tools available for bringing jobs and investments to St. Lawrence County. We appreciate Governor Cuomo's continued focus on economic development and are excited to work with the New York Power Authority and Empire State Development to put these resources into action.”
Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer said, “The agreement spearheaded by Governor Cuomo for the monetization of the St. Lawrence Economic Development Power is a significant development, providing the state and St. Lawrence County with another means for applying this power for economic development. This is also consistent with the Power Authority’s efforts under a current review of a 10-year agreement in connection with St. Lawrence-FDR’s federal operating license to identify further economic development opportunities from the project.”
The 20 MW is drawn from hydropower previously sold to out-of-state electricity customers and redirected to New York State during the 2003 federal relicensing of the St. Lawrence-FDR project.
The Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Act is similar to legislation created in 2012 for the use of unutilized hydropower from NYPA’s Niagara Power Project for economic development in Western New York. This has resulted in approval of more than 20 grant awards to enterprises in that region.
The Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board will consist of five members appointed by the Governor. Under the legislation, three of the members must reside in St. Lawrence County.
Senator Patty Ritchie said, “It’s critical to use every resource at our disposal to spur economic development and create jobs, and for the past four years, I’ve been working with North Country communities to direct these NYPA resources to benefit job and economic growth in St. Lawrence County. I congratulate Governor Cuomo on this agreement and look forward to continuing to work alongside him, with local community input, to help build and strengthen the North Country’s economy.”
Assemblywoman Addie Russell said, “I am pleased that St. Lawrence County will now be able to realize the benefits of the monetized value of the 20 megawatts. This unique opportunity for St. Lawrence County will provide much needed economic development dollars. The agreement, creating 2 million dollars per year through the monetization of power, opens the door to new infrastructure, new business development and expansion, creating critical new jobs that are key to vitality and growth in the county.”
Senator Betty Little said, “This new annual appropriation will provide a terrific boost to the St. Lawrence County economy. It’s a smart use of financial resources made available through hydropower to benefit the local business community in need of this kind of economic help.”
Senator Joseph A. Griffo said, “I’m pleased that Governor Cuomo recognizes that the St. Lawrence FDR Power Project should always be beneficial to its host communities. This agreement gives the North Country the flexibility to sell its unused portion of a promised 20 megawatts of power and use the proceeds on economic development initiatives, which is greatly needed in St. Lawrence County. While the New York Power Authority will have the ultimate power to award grants, it is my hope that they will respect the recommendations offered by the new Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board. I am big believer that locals often know their immediate needs best, so I look forward to a productive relationship between the NYPA and the new board. I am confident that we can resolve the other outstanding power allocation issues for the region’s benefit.”
Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey said, “The Governor's proposal to allocate millions of dollars in additional grant funding will provide an opportunity for businesses to expand and create jobs. I am pleased with another program to assist local North Country businesses in economic development and job creation.”
Judge Eugene L. Nicandri, a NYPA trustee and Massena resident, said, “The Northern New York Proceeds legislation will further bolster the extraordinary value that the St. Lawrence-FDR project brings to the North Country as a cornerstone for the area economy. Governor Cuomo and the state legislature are to be congratulated for their determined efforts to bring about this legislation.”