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Q&A - State Sen. George Maziarz

MaziarzState Sen. George Maziarz is in a position to make things happen regarding the Niagara Power Project. Earlier this year, the Newfane Republican assumed chairmanship of the Senate's Energy Committee.

Here's what he haad to say in a recent interview with The News.

The power authority has sold unused replacement and expansion power earmarked for local industry for $161 million from 2005 through the end of this year. Little of the money is coming back to Western New York. What do you think about that?

"The bottom line is that either the power or the money should be staying in Western New York.  If replacement or expansion power is going unused, then it should be offered to regional entities that do not meet the present criteria for receiving an allocation."

While a lot of people want to complain about the authority, a lot of what they're doing is at the behest of laws passed by the State Legislature. Aren't you guys a part of the problem?

"Well, of course, much progress needs to be made with our current statues.  But we live in a democracy and Western New York only has so many representatives in the State Legislature.  We need  to make the downstate-driven Assembly majority understand that our low-cost hydropower is a regional asset that helps our economy, just as Wall Street is a regional asset to greater New York City. Only then will we be able to pass the laws we need."

Do you think the New York Power Authority should be doing more for the local economy because of the hydropower plant in Lewiston.

"To say NYPA should be doing more for the local economy is the understatement of the year." 

There are a handful of companies in Niagara Falls getting discounts on hydropower worth more than $125,000 per job per year. Isn't that excessive?

"Yes.  However, many of the companies do have a long history of providing thousands of good jobs in Western New York. But some sort of redistribtion will have to take place." 

You took over as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee earlier this year. How do you intend on using your power to make the most of the Niagara Power Project?

"Appointments to the NYPA Board of Trustees must be approved by the Senate Energy Committee before they are confirmed.  As chairman of this committee, I will make every nominee fully aware of our local concerns and I will make it clear that the Niagara Power Project should be treated primarily as a regional asset."

Explain your concerns about how local governments in Niagara County are using the 25 megawatts of low-cost hydropower they received from the Power Authority as part of the relicensing settlement.

"The settlement occurred in June 2005 and now, three years later, not one new job has been created."

Tomorrow I interterview U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins.



Economic Development | Hyrdopower | New York Power Authority
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