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NYPA $2 Million Payment Continues Commitment to Waterfront, Greenway Revitalization

Michael Saltzman, NYPA

Stefanie Zakowicz
Empire State Development Corp.

August 15, 2007

For Immediate Release

BUFFALO—The Buffalo waterfront received a major boost Wednesday with the presentation by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) of a ceremonial check for $2 million symbolizing the statewide public power utility’s commitment to the waterfront’s revitalization.

The oversized check corresponded with the second of two, $2 million payments to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. (ECHDC) stemming from a June 2006 settlement agreement tied in with the relicensing of NYPA’s Niagara Power Project in Lewiston. The agreement provides $279 million from NYPA for revitalization projects along the Buffalo waterfront and Niagara River Greenway in Erie County over the 50-year term of a new operating license for the hydroelectric project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the new license on March 15.

“These payments and our long-term financial commitment to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. are a sign of a greater role NYPA is playing within Western New York, in helping to finance the revitalization of both the harbor and greenway areas,” said Roger B. Kelley, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “As with earlier settlement agreements for Niagara’s relicensing, the agreement that made this possible reflects the Power Authority’s recognition of the importance of contributing to the quality of life in Western New York beyond providing low-cost hydropower, without undermining this marvelous facility’s value for Niagara Frontier businesses and tens of thousands of jobs.”

“We are grateful for the support that we are receiving from NYPA and their long-term commitment to Western New York,” stated Jordan Levy, Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. board chairman.  “The settlement agreement allows us to continue to move forward with the Canal Side project and provides key funding for waterfront development that will ultimately benefit the entire Western New York community.”

“This funding is part of a larger settlement that will invest in efforts to bring new economic and recreational opportunities to the Buffalo waterfront,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “After years of inertia, today we see great progress along the water’s edge that brings with it new excitement for Western New York’s future.”

“I applaud the New York Power Authority for their commitment to the Buffalo waterfront,” said Erie County Executive Joel Giambra. “Tourism and recreation is our greatest growth industry and needs to be nurtured. The annual payments to the Buffalo Waterfront Development Fund will go a long way in making that possible.”

“The redevelopment of the Buffalo waterfront has made significant progress in recent years, and the annual NYPA payments will further strengthen our ongoing efforts to revitalize this important section of the city,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “Through this and other sources of funding, along with the creation of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, we now have all the pieces in place to reclaim our waterfront for our residents and visitors alike.”

“New York State has come to the plate once again with funding for Buffalo’s waterfront,” said State Sen. William T. Stachowski. “I am confident that state government will remain committed to the development of both the inner and outer harbor, and as the state senator representing this vital area, I plan on working with Governor Spitzer and his staff to bring these areas to life.”

“I would like to thank the New York Power Authority for its contribution to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.,” said State Sen. Antoine M. Thompson. “I believe that other key components needed to arrive at a developed waterfront include community input and continued teamwork from our regional leaders in both the private and public sectors.”

“With its settlement agreements in relicensing the Niagara Power Project, the New York Power Authority has shown its ongoing support of our communities and businesses in Western New York," said Assemblyman Sam Hoyt. "Today's announcement and NYPA's long-term funding commitment to help revitalize the Buffalo waterfront demonstrate a terrific partnership between the state, local governments and our most important asset--the people of Western New York. I'm proud to be working with Governor Spitzer, NYPA and the other government agencies in seeing our region meet great expectations.” 

“There would be no City of Buffalo, if it were not for the Erie Canal Harbor,” said Assemblyman Mark Schroeder. “In 1819, the New York State Legislature authorized a western expansion of the canal to Lake Erie. It was understood that a new city would rise from the banks of the canal’s western terminus—and that is exactly what happened. On April 20, 1832, the New York State Legislature incorporated the City of Buffalo.

“Now, 175 years later, a new city will once again rise from the Erie Canal. This new city will follow in its predecessor’s footsteps, recapturing the canal side environment that cultivated the old city’s rise to prominence,” said Schroeder.

Last year’s settlement agreement for waterfront and greenway revitalization includes the following commitments by the Power Authority addressing nonlicensing matters outside FERC jurisdiction:

  • Minimum annual payments of $2.5 million to the Buffalo Waterfront Development Fund (administered by ECHDC) over the license period, plus the two upfront payments, in 2006 and this summer, totaling $4 million, for waterfront revitalization and development activities.

  • Annual payments of $2 million for an Erie County Greenway Fund through the term of the new license, to be administered by the Erie County Greenway Standing Committee.

  • Annual payments of $1 million to Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC) to be administered by ECHDC in a manner consistent with the purposes of the Buffalo Waterfront Development Fund (thereby providing a minimum of $3.5 million per year to activities carried out by ECHDC). The ECHDC is further authorized to issue long-term bonds relying on the Power Authority’s annual payments.

  • A feasibility study on the relocation of the Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom presently stored on a NYPA parcel of property within the outer harbor of the Buffalo waterfront. The Power Authority shall diligently seek to relocate the ice boom to an alternate site in order to convey the existing storage site to ECHDC, for waterfront development.

Kelley recognized the role Western New York elected officials played in reaching an accord for this historic financial support.

In addition to ECHDC and ESDC, the other parties to the agreement were the City of Buffalo, Erie County and the Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy.

The signatories supported the relicensing of the Niagara project, whose current 50-year license expires on Aug. 31. The new license will be effective on Sept. 1, clearing the way for NYPA’s implementation of the multiple settlement agreements with key stakeholders, for Western New York benefits valued at approximately $1 billion over the 50-year license. Other provisions include low-cost power for local municipalities, school districts and other entities for hundreds of millions of dollars in additional savings.

 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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