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NYPA review rescheduled for March

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MASSENA - The St. Lawrence County Local Government Task Force and New York Power Authority representatives will hold four meetings in March to determine whether the NYPA upheld its end of the 2003 Relicensing Settlement Agreement.

Every 10 years after the relicensing, NYPA is required to review the terms of the agreement with the task force.

But scheduling conflicts and inclement weather have forced the New York Power Authority and Task Force to delay the meetings.

Mr. Gray said he could not comment specifically about the meetings, as the task force and NYPA have agreed not to negotiate in public.

“All I can say is that we will enter into discussions negotiations with the power authority in earnest starting the first week in March and although I confirmations set up I believe and remain hopeful that some progress will be made,” task force Chairman and Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said Tuesday.

The St. Lawrence-FDR relicensing agreement gave the towns of Lisbon, Waddington, Louisville and Massena, their school districts and St. Lawrence County a total of $115 million. NYPA also agreed to pay $116 million for recreational and environmental improvements and to transfer property within the project boundary back to adjoining landowners. The land transfer later was deemed unconstitutional because a public entity cannot legally transfer property to private parties for less than fair market value.

According to Mr. Gray, “unanticipated events” that occurred after the relicensing – such as the closing of the General Motors plant in Massena – could be just cause for a review of the agreement’s terms.

So far the task force has had limited contact with NYPA.

“We exchanged documentation in mid-January,” Mr. Gray said. “We basically outlined where each party stood on issues in the relicensing agreement. Each side of the Power Authority and the task force summarized, from their standpoint, where their each issue stands today – whether it is resolved, outstanding, or no longer applicable in the review and reasons why.”

There is no word yet as to whether local control of proceeds from the sale of 20 megawatts of hydropower could be included in the review of a 2003 relicensing settlement between St. Lawrence County municipalities and the New York Power Authority to operate the St. Lawrence-FDR power dam in Massena.

NYPA granted the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency the 20 megawatts in 2012 to spur economic growth. In addition to the power, NYPA granted the River Agency $16 million left over from the defunct St. Lawrence Aquarium project to help correct what town and county officials have called significant inequities between the Massena dam relicensing settlement and the Niagara relicensing settlement in Western New York.

“We have been talking with the RVRDA for a number of months about the monetization issue,” Mr. Gray said. “We were updated on what their status is with regard with monetization. We - the task force and RVRDA - agreed we need to do some more research. But no options are off the table as far as securing monetization.”

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