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Low-Cost Hydropower Allocations Approved for 53 New Jobs in Western New York and Capital Investment of $2.6 Million

Michael Saltzman

June 26, 2007


UTICA—Low-cost hydropower allocations approved by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Board of Trustees Tuesday could lead to 53 new jobs in Western New York in connection with an Ontario company’s decision to relocate its manufacturing operation and a North Tonawanda firm’s expansion.

“Niagara hydropower makes a huge difference for Western New York’s economy, providing significant savings compared to other sources of power and serving as a catalyst for creating and protecting jobs and encouraging capital investment,” said Frank S. McCullough, Jr., NYPA chairman. “The two latest allocations, including one for attracting an Ontario company, further demonstrate the value of this power and the importance that we’re placing on maximizing the benefits for the region.”

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) board approved an allocation of 200 kilowatts (kw) for the Pop and Lock Corp., to enhance the likelihood of the company deciding on Western New York for relocating from its current facility in Ontario. The second allocation, for 150 kw, will support the plans by Ascension Industries to secure additional space for production of fuel cells at a site adjacent to its existing facility in North Tonawanda.

Pop and Lock has been scouting potential sites in Western New York and two cities in Canada for leasing a new manufacturing facility, where it would create 18 new jobs. The company produces goods for automotive, marine, agriculture and defense industries. The lease at its current site is expiring and the company has determined that it would be desirable to be closer to its customers in the U.S.  It plans to invest $630,000 in its new facility.

In addition to seeking the Niagara hydropower, Pop and Lock has been working with the Niagara County Council for Economic Development on other measures to support the relocation to Western New York.

Ascension Industries plans to add 40,000 square-feet of manufacturing space to accommodate increased customer demand from the power generating industry. The expansion calls for 35 new employees, in addition to a current work force of 100, and capital investment of $2 million for purchase and modification of a building adjacent to the company’s current site, and new equipment.

“We’re grateful to Governor Spitzer and the Power Authority for supporting our plans to ramp up production capabilities in support of our customers’ added demand for fuel cells,” said Wayne Wawrzniec, chief financial officer, Ascension. “It shows that New York State recognizes the importance of working in partnership with industries. The fact that we’ll be using hydropower to fabricate generating equipment for another form of clean power also seems like a fitting use of this low-cost power.”

In addition to fuel cells, Ascension produces custom-made products of wide-ranging use that include heat exchangers, air-handling equipment and industrial filtration systems. The North Tonawanda facility also benefits from the state’s Power for Jobs program, which relies on NYPA’s purchases of economical power from nonhydro sources.

The two hydropower allocations approved by the NYPA board Tuesday will be drawn from a block of power known as Replacement Power—one of two blocks of Niagara industrial power reserved under state law for businesses within a 30-miles radius of the hydroelectric project. Some 43,000 jobs are linked to allocations from the two blocks, which are sold at rates approximately 75 percent less than the average wholesale market prices.

The Western New York Advisory Group (WNAG), consisting of NYPA, National Grid, Empire State Development Corp., the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, and the Niagara County Department of Economic Development, recommended the latest allocations. The WNAG was established in 2003 to help identify qualified companies for available industrial power from the Niagara project.

  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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