Congressman Higgins Lauds Community Effort which will Bring $279 Million to Buffalo and Erie County
At a meeting held today, Thursday, March 15, in Washington, DC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a new 50-year license for the Niagara Power Project. This is the final federal step in moving the funding secured in a settlement agreement between Buffalo and Erie County and the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which operates the Niagara Plant.
This community stood up for itself and demanded a fair and equitable settlement in the relicensing agreement with the New York Power Authority, said Congressman Higgins. Over the last 50 years, industries, once bustling with commerce and drawn to our region because of our proximity to the Niagara Power Plant, have left the Buffalo waterfront. Completion of this license allows this community to move forward in transforming the abandoned inner and outer harbor into a new center for public activity which fits the needs of today and tomorrow.
FERC members voted unanimously to approve the Niagara Power license, Item No. H-1, Docket Number P-2216-066, on the March 15, 2007 meeting agenda. The NYPA board must now accept the new license.
According to the Erie County/City of Buffalo Relicensing Settlement Agreement approved in June 2006, within 60 days of the acceptance of the new license, the Power Authority shall make an initial payment of $1 million to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to be used to support economic development and revitalization activities within the vicinity of the Buffalo Waterfront. Within 60 days of acceptance NYPA must also provide $1.5 million plus proceeds of the sale of 5 megawatts or $1 million, which ever is greater, into a separate Waterfront Development Fund.
Complete details of the $279 million NYPA settlement:
Approximately $3.5 million annually for 50 years for the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to facilitate waterfront improvement.
Approximately $65 million will be available over the next two years for construction and related costs because bonds will be issued which are backed by the guaranteed annual settlement payment.
$4 million in up-front funding to the Development Corporation will be paid in 2006 and 2007
$2 million annually for 50 years will go to the Erie County Greenway Fund for waterfront parkland and environmental remediation.
Also, local leaders will reclaim nearly 14 acres of waterfront property currently used by NYPA to store its ice boom.
Last July the ECHDC received the first up-front $2 million, the second $2 million up-front installment will be allocated to the Corporation by July 2007. NYPA is currently under the process of reviewing alternate sites for the ice boom.
During the settlement process, Congressman Higgins used financial and historical research to justify why NYPA can and should increase their original settlement offer. This research, along with community support, assisted in seeing that Buffalo and Erie County receive the $279 million settlement - nearly three times the original settlement offer.