Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced an agreement with state legislative leaders on¬†the Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Act.
This legislation will create the Northern New York Economic Development Fund to support projects in the North Country region, along with a new entity – the Northern New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board.
This board will be responsible for making recommendations for awards from the fund based on criteria such as capital investments and job creation.
‚ÄúThis agreement adds another dimension to our efforts to spur economic development and growth in the North Country,‚Äù said Gov. Cuomo.
The Governor added that tapping into the region‚Äôs supply of unutilized hydropower would enable them to jumpstart the economy in the North Country, invest in local businesses and help create jobs and new opportunities for New Yorkers in St. Lawrence County.
The $2 million annual allocation for the fund will come from the New York Power Authority‚Äôs (NYPA) market sale net earnings of a block of unutilized hydropower from the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Hydroelectric Plant.
The aim is for these funds to be applied to economic development projects in St. Lawrence County, which would fulfill payment commitments made to St. Lawrence County under the St. Regis land claim agreement between the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Saint Lawrence County and New York State. It resolved decades of tribal land disputes and the distribution of millions of dollars of gaming revenue to local governments.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has a critical role to play in the implementation of this agreement.
As per the legislation, up to 20MW of hydropower that is available under contract to the Massena Electric Department (MED) will now also be harnessed for economic development in the area by using the proceeds of the sale of power in¬†the wholesale electricity marketplace.
Since 2102, MED has been sub-allocating this 20MW of cheap hydropower to eligible businesses based on recommendations from local and regional economic development organizations including the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency (RVRDA), and the Lawrence County IDA.
The monetized value of the power will now similarly be allocated towards economic development projects based on input from these¬†organizations. Both the RVRDA and IDA will assist in the administration of the fund, and will provide input on grant applications being considered by the NYPA in coordination¬†with Empire State Development.
The whole process is similar to legislation approved in 2012 which allowed for NYPA‚Äôs unutilized hydropower from the Niagara Power Project to be used for Western New York economic development.