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Higgins Challenges Business Leaders to Push for Power Authority Funding

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Congressman Brian Higgins is calling on local business leaders to play more of a role in efforts to secure a greater settlement from the New York Power Authority in the ongoing relicensing debate.

The Power Authority is trying to secure another 50 year federal license to operate the Niagara Power Project. It generates the nation's cheapest and cleanest hydropower. But Congressman Higgins says it also generates a lot of profit -- more than half-a-billion dollars each year.

Higgins wants the Power Authority to share at least $10 million of that with the city of Buffalo. So far, the authority is offering $2 million. Higgins says he surprised that area business leaders have been silent on the issue.

"This is no time for the business community to be sitting on the sidelines," Higgins said. "They should be leading this fight. If you look at the issue of membership in the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, you'll find that the New York Power Authority is a $25,000 leadership member."

Higgins says that may be one reason why the Partnership hasn't been more vocal. But Partnership President Andrew Rudnick says his priorities are different.

"The Partnership from day one has been working with organized labor and other stakeholders to make sure the longterm availability of hydropower to our employers in the region is at the lowest possible cost," Rudnick said.

Congressman Higgins also had some harsh words for the New York Power Authority, its commissioners and consultants. He described them as "common thugs" who are intent on a strategy of "divide and conquer" in trying to secure a new license.