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Ceretto Urges Governor To Return Hydropower Funds

By Frank Parlato

Assemblyman John Ceretto

The power goes one way, boys, away....

Assemblyman John Ceretto sent a letter last week to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asking him to give Niagara County a few tiny crumbs from the New York Power Authority to promote tourism and business and for the redesign of the Robert Moses Parkway.

After all, the state just took $70 million - they call it a "sweep"- from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) reserves and put it into the state budget.

Albany has been sweeping Niagara pretty clean for decades.

Over the past six years, for example, NYPA and NYS have swept over $1 billion from the Niagara Power Project to fund operations elsewhere in the state.

In 2008, NYPA had a surplus of $309 million of which $236 million, or 76 percent, came from the Niagara River.

Locals don't get to use any of that power and have wound up paying almost the highest electrical rates in the county.

In other words, NYPA is supported by the Niagara power plant to the tune of almost a quarter of a billion in profits per year and the people here do not get to use the power or reap much of the benefit from one of the greatest cash cows in the nation.

NYPA studies revealed that only 14 percent of the economic benefit from the Niagara Power Project remains in Western New York.Put another way, Albany takes 86 percent of the benefits of having hydropower out of our region.

"Albany has long used NYPA as an ATM for funding projects across the state," wrote Ceretto. "Since 2002, $1.4 billion has been swept from NYPA and taken away from the Western New York economy. Some of this money needs to be invested back into Western New York. An investment in Niagara and Erie Counties from the Open for Business fund would help the families and communities of our region."

That is a masterful understatement.

What should be said is that Albany has stolen our power.

We must demand it back.

Ceretto is asking for about $50 million of NYPA money.

It is better than nothing, but far less than enough.

We would like to see Ceretto demand that most of the NYPA money made from Niagara remain in Niagara.

That is only fair.

Every region has to profit from its natural assets, just as they must pay for their natural defects and liabilities.

Most regions do benefit from their natural assets, except Niagara Falls, which only pays the burdens of the community while contributing to the support of the rest of the state.




Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Apr16, 2013