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New Company Wants Tax Breaks So It Can Bring in More Garbage

What do you make of this?

More garbage coming to Niagara Falls, that's what.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency’s Board of Directors last week agreed to consider a request from Sterling Energy Group of Gary, Ind., for a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of taxes agreement.

Tax breaks for years to come.

So what are they bringing to our town?

Sterling Energy Group is looking to acquire the former Niagara Generation plant located at 5300 Frontier Ave., that closed in 2012 after operating as a tire and construction debris burning plant, and as a by-product of the burning an electrical, co-generation facility.

Get it? They call themselves an "energy group" but the real deal is to burn garbage.

It is the same deal as Covanta which makes 76 percent of its profits from accepting garbage and 24 percent from generating energy.

Burn lots of garbage, create a little energy and call yourself an energy generation plant.

Sterling's plan however is not to burn municipal garbage. Sterling is coming to what was once the honeymoon capital of the World, now fast becoming the garbage capital of the world.

The plan is to burn the construction trash of the world.

Dirty construction debris, the mold stinking mass of Hurricane Sandy, the condemned litter of ghettos of urban cities, wood and garbage and nails and who knows what else.

Sterling is looking to retrofit and reopen the plant and make it able to burn debris and release some of it into the air, with tiny particles of who knows what for you to breathe.

A $2 million project, they want to take over what’s left of a 20-year PILOT agreement granted to the previous and now defunct owners in 2007.

On top of that, Sterling wants to build a $3 million warehouse and compressed natural gas fueling station right on Niagara Falls Boulevard, on vacant land at 6000 and 6100 Niagara Falls Blvd in LaSalle.

Here, too, the company wants the IDA to allow them to pay little or no property taxes and get sales tax exemptions. The warehouse will store construction waste, mostly wood, which company CEO William Harrington euphemistically calls the company's "main source of energy."

Yeah garbage is energy.

But the gambit is this: All the stuff people will pay you to get rid of by burning because they don't want it rotting in their town.

The real money comes from taking other people's waste.

Harrington admitted the new operation will burn more than wood products.

This is not going to be the pleasant smell of a wood burning fireplace in winter. They want to burn construction debris and that means they will likely burn asphalt, painted, treated, and coated wood, wood products, plaster, drywall, insulation, wall coverings, shingles, glass, plastic, wiring, soil, and anything else that gets mixed in with the stuff.

Yeah, they are an energy generation plant.

Sure, landfills are filling up with construction wastes in other cities and sure other cities are too smart to take the pollution that comes from burning.

Harrington said the plant is also equipped to burn tires and he plans to burn them, all of them already on site, a number that will fill the skies with the black pollution of burning rubber.

“We don’t plan to introduce any additional tires,” Harrington said.

Ok, so Sterling Energy, if they burn enough debris, will be able to generate 40 megawatts of power per hour for sale back to the power grid. This will generate profits for Sterling.

They'll pollute our air, get well paid to take other people's dirty debris and keep the profits from the sale of electricity, too.

And they want the people who will breathe in the pollution to cut them a tax break and pay for their city services, too.

Sure, the amount of burning will be monitored under an existing air permit previously granted to Niagara Generation by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The permit limits -- but does not eliminate -- air pollution.

And frankly the fines for violators are often less than the profits they make from burning more than they should.

Harington, to justify a tax-free world, said his reopening of the plant and building a warehouse to store debris will create 37 jobs.

That's what the city has become, a tax-free haven for garbage burners who masquerade as energy companies. And the people get jobs as garbage burners.

The Niagara County IDA will hold a public hearing on Sterling’s request for tax free treatment, at a nicely inconvenient time for those who work.

It is on a Wednesday, Aug. 28, at 3:30 p.m., at Niagara Falls City Hall.



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

AUG 20, 2013