NYPA Chairman Expresses
Support for Legislation That Factors in Costs in Licensing Hydropower
Text of Chairman Ciminelli's
July 29, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BUFFALO—New York Power Authority (NYPA) Chairman
Louis P. Ciminelli Tuesday stressed the importance of a balanced
approach to the relicensing of hydropower projects like the Power
Authority’s Niagara Power Project, as Congress works on energy
legislation that includes attention to conditions of hydro licenses.
“Niagara hydropower is absolutely critical to
strengthening the economy on the Niagara Frontier and setting the stage
for future growth,” said Chairman Ciminelli. “Our ability to use the
power for these purposes will depend in large part on what happens in
the relicensing process that’s now well under way” for the project. It’s
a process, he said, that could be affected by the legislation now being
considered in Washington.
The NYPA chairman said he was encouraged by the
recent approval by the House of an energy bill that includes a provision
requiring federal agencies to consider cost when proposing conditions to
hydro licenses. It also would allow hydropower licensees to turn to more
cost-effective, alternative conditions for providing equal environmental
The same provision is in a pending bill before the
Senate, though there have been efforts to weaken it, “so we’re by no
means home free,” he said.
A resident of Buffalo, Ciminelli delivered the
welcome remarks at the Waterpower XIII conference at the Buffalo
Convention Center. The three-day conference is a biennial gathering of
professionals in the hydropower field. The Power Authority is a sponsor
of this year’s event, which included a tour on Monday of the Niagara
Project and its Power Vista visitors center.
“The Authority takes very seriously its commitments
to the communities and the environment” in the areas of its power
projects, said Ciminelli. “But the only way to pay for these commitments
is through our rates. Ultimately, the issue isn’t what the Power
Authority is willing to spend on a proposed project or projects. It’s
what our customers are willing to accept by way of potential rate
Only recently, NYPA completed a series of public
scoping meetings to identify major issues for study and potential
settlement for relicensing of the 2,400,000-kilowatt Niagara Project.
The work is expected to lead to submittal of a license application and
environmental assessment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
in 2005, with the current project license expiring in 2007.
The scoping meetings were part of an alternative
licensing approach involving public participation in the relicensing
process from the beginning, as opposed to a traditional method that
limits it until later in the process. The Power Authority received
FERC’s permission last year to use the alternative approach, which is
similar to one it employed for another large hydroelectric facility—the
St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Project in Massena. The commission is
expected to issue a new license later this year for the St. Lawrence-FDR
Completed in 1961, the Niagara Project, about 4-1/2
miles downstream from Niagara Falls, is the single largest source of
electricity in New York State and a bulwark for Western New York
industries, with more than 43,000 jobs linked to its low-cost power.
Together with St. Lawrence-FDR, the two projects meet about 15 percent
of New York State’s electricity.
NYPA also operates a 1,040,000-kw pumped storage
project in the Northern Catskills that recycles water between two
reservoirs to produce power during periods of peak demand, and five
small hydro projects in various parts of the state. Overall, hydropower
accounts for more than 80 percent of the Authority’s installed capacity.
“I’m proud to say that these projects not only
protect the environment—by producing clean, renewable energy without the
taint of greenhouse gases—but they also enhance it with acres of
beaches, parks, campgrounds and picnic areas for the public’s enjoyment.
We’ve planted trees and shrubs as forage for deer, sponsored fish
stocking programs and generally contributed to wildlife preservation.
Our programs, I’m told, helped set the standard for hydroelectric
projects across the nation,” Ciminelli said.