NYPA Files Comprehensive Settlement Package For New License at St. Lawrence-FDR

Michael Saltzman

February 13, 2003


WHITE PLAINS—The New York Power Authority announced Thursday that it has filed a comprehensive settlement package with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a major step forward in completing the process of obtaining a new 50-year license to operate the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in Massena.  In accordance with federal law, the Power Authority filed its application for a new 50-year license with FERC on Oct. 31, 2001.  The comprehensive settlement package should resolve the relicensing proceeding before FERC.

“This has been a long, comprehensive and complex proceeding,” said Power Authority Chairman Louis P. Ciminelli. “I am happy to announce that this filing brings us much closer to winding up this process, much closer to having our new license in hand and much closer to delivering the enhancements and benefits we’ve agreed to provide to the communities and the agencies.”

The comprehensive settlement package, filed on Feb. 6, 2003, includes the signed agreements between the Power Authority and local governments, regulatory agencies and other stakeholders who were participants in the relicensing process.  These agreements provide for the return of additional land to local communities; a community enhancement fund to give localities and school districts at least $115 million; enhanced tourism opportunities; improvements to state and local parks, campgrounds, boating sites and other recreational facilities; a $24 million fund to enhance fisheries; enhancements of environmental facilities and fish and wildlife habitats; and a variety of other actions.

The wide range of support shown for the settlement package provides a solid foundation for the 50-year license term and signals to FERC the benefits of an expeditious review of the application and issuance of the new license. The broad-based community approval for the settlement package is illustrated by the unanimous agreement from the Local Government Task Force, which represents the communities within the project boundary. In addition, the settlement package is supported by federal, state and local resource agencies involved, local labor unions, Alcoa and General Motors and the St. Lawrence Aquarium and Ecological Center, which is part of the St. Lawrence Aquarium and Great Rivers Center.

Erin M. Crotty, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said, “The completion of this settlement package illustrates the importance of partnership as we continue efforts to provide a clean and safe environment for all New Yorkers. Through this settlement agreement, NYPA has shown a commitment to protecting natural resources, increasing recreational opportunities, and improving the environmental health of communities.

“The filing of the settlement package is a step forward in a process that will provide important assistance to local governments, schools, taxpayers and recreational facilities,” said Senator Jim Wright. “I am pleased that Governor Pataki, local representatives and the Power Authority made the needs of the region a priority while working to gain an additional 50-year operating license for a facility that is vitally important to the Northern New York economy.”

Senator Ray Meier said, “The filing of this settlement package with FERC is great news for the communities and residents of St. Lawrence County. This relicensing has been a long time coming, and I would like to take this opportunity to commend Governor Pataki, the New York Power Authority and local governments for working so diligently on this issue. The completion of this step in the process means the additional land and community enhancements will be available that much sooner.”

“This filing is a giant step forward for the North Country communities,” said Assemblyman Chris Ortloff. “This comprehensive settlement package offers local communities a wide range of benefits and enhancements that will not only help stimulate local economies, but also beautify our region.”

Assemblywoman Deirdre K. Scozzafava, said, “Reaching a settlement that is most equitable for all of the concerned parties has been a long and difficult process. I commend the Governor, the Power Authority and Task Force members for their diligent efforts and their concern for the future development of the North Country.

Among the recreational improvements are proposals to spend about $12 million for new and improved facilities at Robert Moses and Coles Creek State Parks. It includes rehabilitation and expansion of bathhouses, camping facilities, boat launches and docking areas at both parks in addition to repairs and replacement of sewage and water.

Key proposals regarding land include removing an additional 600 acres of land – making a total of about 1,500 acres – from the project boundary and returning it to the tax rolls. In addition, the settlement package calls for the removal of all lands in the Town of Lisbon and a portion of the Town of Waddington west of the Iroquois Dam from the project boundary. For the remainder of the shoreline in Waddington and the shoreline areas of Louisville and Massena, the Power Authority proposes to own and control a small buffer strip from the high-water mark, while providing guidelines for use by adjoining owners and the general public. In areas adjacent to project structures, state and local parks and the Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area, the existing boundary would remain.

The $115 million community enhancement fund will provide payments to the Towns of Massena, Louisville, Waddington and Lisbon; the Villages of Massena and Waddington; the Massena, Lisbon, and Madrid-Waddington School Districts; and St. Lawrence County. While technically not part of the license application or settlement agreement, the Power Authority will contribute $20 million plus approximately $3 million in accumulated interest to finance the “brick and mortar” portion of the proposed aquarium.

“We are pleased to see that another hurdle has been successfully cleared in the process of obtaining a new 50-year license at the Power Authority’s St. Lawrence-FDR Project,” said Roger Watters, chairman of the St. Lawrence local government task force.

“The comprehensive settlement agreement is fair and balanced and will produce significant economic, environmental and cultural benefits for our local communities. We urge FERC to issue a new license that adopts all the terms of this settlement agreement.”

The Power Authority built the St. Lawrence-FDR Project beginning in 1954 and first produced electricity in 1958. It is currently conducting a $254 million, 15 year modernization of the facility. Completion is expected in 2013.