NYPA President Zeltmann Says Senate
Bill Would Improve Hydro Licensing Process
April 30, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LIVERPOOL—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and
Chief Executive Officer Eugene W. Zeltmann said Tuesday night that energy
legislation recently passed by the Senate marks “a promising first step”
toward reforming the federal hydroelectric relicensing process, but that
more needs to be done.
Noting that hydroelectric operators “face costly delays
and withering demands from existing regulations,” Zeltmann told the state
Municipal Electric Utilities Association (MEUA) that the Senate bill is an
improvement over legislation passed by the House last year.
“The new bill would still allow federal agencies to set
mandatory environmental conditions for new licenses,” said Zeltmann, who
earlier in the day had been appointed to his current position by NYPA
trustees after serving for more than 4 ˝ years as president and chief
operating officer. “But it would give applicants greater ability to meet
those conditions in ways that would reduce effects on costs or power
Speaking at the MEUA’s semiannual meeting at the
Holiday Inn Convention Center, Zeltmann said NYPA has a direct interest in
the legislation since it applied last October for a new federal license for
its 800-megawatt St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt hydroelectric project at
Massena and is about to begin the relicensing process for its 2,400-megawatt
Niagara hydro project near Niagara Falls. The facilities’ existing licenses
expire in 2003 and 2007, respectively.
Zeltmann said he hoped the relicensing provision in the
Senate bill would survive in conference committee negotiations with the
House. Beyond that, he said, NYPA supports legislation proposed by
Congressman Ed Towns of Brooklyn and Senator Larry Craig of Idaho that
”would go considerably further in balancing energy, economic and
environmental needs and would help to ease the protracted delays that often
mark the licensing process.”
The MEUA, whose member systems receive low-cost
hydroelectric power from the Niagara project, also backs this legislation.
As it did at St. Lawrence-FDR, Zeltmann said that NYPA
hopes to implement an alternative to the traditional relicensing process at
Niagara that would enable interested parties to become involved long before
an application for a new license is submitted to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC).
“We’re confident that this approach will help to assure
that all with an interest in Niagara’s relicensing are heard, that issues
are identified and discussed and that we work together to resolve matters of
concern,” said Zeltmann, who noted that FERC approval of the alternative
process is pending.
In addition to urging MEUA participation in the Niagara
relicensing, Zeltmann asked Association members to support efforts
undertaken by NYPA, at Gov. George E. Pataki’s direction, to promote
economic development and energy efficiency in their service territories.
He said more than 77 megawatts are available under a
NYPA program to use low-cost power to create jobs at businesses locating or
expanding in municipal system and rural cooperative territories in New York
State. About 2,000 jobs have been created thus far under the program, which
began with 108 megawatts. The most recent allocation, to the Plattsburgh
municipal system in February, will enable Lakeside Container Corp., a
family-owned corrugated products business, to more than quadruple employment
over the next three years.
In addition, Zeltmann said, NYPA is supporting Governor
Pataki’s efforts to encourage energy efficiency by helping to fund and
promote the “Keep Cool” initiative, which provides $75 to New Yorkers who
replace old air conditioners with efficient models carrying the federal
Energy Star label. Thanks to NYPA involvement, the municipal systems’
residential customers can participate in the program, which is also open to
consumers served by investor-owned utilities.