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... Power in the bank

- Keep power benefits here - Buffalo News Editorial
   It should be obvious that if something that belongs to you is sold, the money raised by the sale belongs to you.
   The obvious, however, is not always the legal. So, after much cajoling and politicking, the New York Assembly and Senate have finally passed a bill — A8712-A — that would make it clear that not only is a block of low-cost hydropower from the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston to be reserved for the benefit of Niagara1 Western New York, so is any money raised from the sale of that power.
   All that remains is for Gov. David A. Paterson to sign the legislation and bring common sense and state law — at least in this case — into harmony.
   The complicated relicensing of the New York Power Authority as the operator of the Niagara facility had many strings attached to it. Among them was the provision calling for a block of 695 megawatts called “replacement power” to be reserved for Western New York industry and business.
   Not all of that allocated power is used, for various reasons. Some businesses don’t need it all, others have yet to start up or, in recessionary times, have gone away. The leftover power is sold on the open market, offering a good deal to power-thirsty areas outside the intended zone and picking up some spare change for the Power Authority.
   The estimated $161 million raised from the sale of the unallocated power between 2005 and 2008 went into the Power Authority’s general coffers when, by right, it should have been reserved to the benefit of the same purpose and area the electricity itself was supposed to help.
   Paterson last year expressed his support for the concept. He should now ignore any grumbling he may hear about limiting the Power Authority’s options and sign the bill into law. If he doesn’t, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins is ready to pull the trigger on federal legislation [HR 2133] that would accomplish the same purpose.
   Higgins’ bill, though, shouldn’t be necessary. Paterson can accomplish it with a simple signature, and a step toward basic fairness for Western New York will have been accomplished.

   Related:
- Governor's signature would be transformational - Andrew J. Rudnick/Buffalo Niagara Partnership 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

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