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Niagara Project Relicensing Advances with Federal Issuance of Final Environmental Impact Statement

Michael Saltzman

January 4, 2007


LEWISTON—The relicensing of the Niagara Power Project achieved a significant milestone with the issuance by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Dec. 29 of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which is the last regulatory step prior to issuance of a new operating license for the hydroelectric project here.

“We are pleased with the Final Environmental Impact Statement as it recommends in all material respects adoption of NYPA’s license application and settlement agreements, with only minor modification,” said Timothy S. Carey, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “This comprehensive environmental document ensures that the relicensing efforts begun over four years ago for the Niagara Project remain on track in anticipation of the expiration of the current license, this coming August.”

FERC said that the environmental measures proposed by the Power Authority, along with the minor modifications recommended by commission staff, “would improve water quality, protect and enhance fish and terrestrial resources, improve public use of recreational facilities and resources and protect and maintain historic resources within the area affected by the operation of the project.” (An electronic copy of the document may be viewed on the commission website at, under What’s New at FERC.)

The FEIS was issued following public review and comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued in July. Both FERC documents reflect much of the information in an Applicant-Prepared Environmental Assessment that the Power Authority submitted in August 2005 with its application for a new 50-year operating license. That month, it also submitted an Offer of Settlement that included agreements with federal and state resource agencies and environmental organizations, area municipalities, the Tuscarora Nation, customers and other stakeholders.

In January 2006, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued the Niagara project a Section 401 Water Quality Certificate, and, in February, the New York State Department of State determined that the relicensing settlement terms are consistent with the New York Coastal Management Program. Both regulatory actions are prerequisites for a new federal operating license.

A decision on the new license by this summer will ensure that the hydroelectric project’s customers, including Western New York businesses and industries employing nearly 44,000 area residents, continue to benefit from some of the lowest cost electricity in the country.

The Niagara project produced its first commercial power in 1961. In addition to businesses and industries, power from the 2,400,000-kilowatt project is provided under state and federal laws to municipal electric systems and rural cooperatives in New York and neighboring states and to three upstate New York investor-owned utilities for resale without profit to residential and farm consumers.

Pending meetings of FERC are scheduled over the next few months for January 18, February 15 and March 15. Under federal statute, the commission licenses state, municipal and private hydroelectric projects.

 About NYPA:

 ■    NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity.  ■    NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.  ■    It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

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