The New York Power Authority (NYPA), the City of Buffalo and Erie County have reached an agreement on the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project in western New York, US.

Under this settlement, announced by Governor George E. Pataki, NYPA would provide an estimated US$280M in funding for vital economic and environmental projects in the region over the term of the 50-year licence, while also ensuring low-cost power for businesses in western New York.

Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra and Buffalo Mayor Anthony M. Masiello have agreed to the settlement, which also requires approval of the Buffalo City Council and Erie County Legislature. The agreement is conditional upon the approval of NYPA’s application by the federal government.

‘When the Niagara Power Project first began operating in 1961, it was an historic and innovative achievement that offered significant benefits to the citizens and industries of western New York,’ Governor Pataki said. ‘Now, nearly five decades later, all the parties involved have reached a positive settlement that will keep this landmark project operational, help to spur new jobs and businesses in the region, and improve the local quality of life.

‘I am pleased that under this agreement, businesses in western New York will continue to receive the critical, low-cost hydroelectric power they need to be competitive, and local communities will be given the funding they need to reclaim and revitalize the local waterfront,’ Pataki added.

Under the agreement, Buffalo and Erie County would receive a combined US$5.5M per year for the next 50 years, pending federal approval of the new licence application. The agreement includes:

• US$3.5M annually over the term of the licence for the newly-created Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. for capital construction, and waterfront redevelopment and revitalization (US$2.5M from NYPA and US$1M from Empire State Development Corp..

• US$2M per year throughout the term of the licence for the Erie County Greenway Fund to help protect and restore the canal, and establish a regional approach to land-use planning, tourism, and recreational trail development.

• US$4M upfront to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. to be paid in 2006 and 2007.

• The transfer of approximately 5.7ha of waterfront property currently used by NYPA to store its ice boom. The transfer will be made once NYPA finds an alternative location.

Under a previously announced settlement with Niagara County, the Niagara Power Coalition will receive US$5M per year for 50 years for a host community fund; a US$8M one-time, upfront payment to the community fund; US$3M per year for the Niagara County Greenway Fund; and a 25MW power allocation.

In August 2005, NYPA submitted an application for a new licence to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as required by law, for a new 50-year licence to operate the Niagara Power Project. NYPA’s current license expires in August 2007.