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The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have reached a contract extension for the utility’s hydropower purchases through September 1, 2040.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is anticipated to sign the contract in the coming months. The NYPA Board of Trustees previously agreed to the extension and the BPU Board of Directors voted to approve the measure at its August 26 meeting.
The new contract will continue the sale of approximately 765 megawatts (MW) of low-cost hydropower from the Niagara Power Project to all 51 municipal and rural electric cooperative systems in NYS. The previous power contract was scheduled to expire in 2025, however, discussions were expedited to support the efforts of the consumer-owned utilities to streamline the development and deployment of energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives.
“The BPU’s lower-cost NYPA hydropower annually provides the BPU with approximately 90 percent of electricity supplied to BPU electric customers,” said BPU General Manager David L. Leathers. “The renewed agreement for affordable hydropower will offer the BPU price stability and the ability to project future power costs for our customers.”
As part of the new contract, the municipal and cooperative systems have recognized the goals of New York’s Clean Energy Standard and Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to increase renewable energy generation.
Under the agreement, the BPU and other NYS consumer-owned utilities will commit dedicated funds to be used for energy efficiency, renewable energy and other related projects. Two task forces also will be established. The Customer-NYPA Implementation Task Force and the Technology & Innovation Task Force will meet regularly to confirm contract compliance, to collaborate on energy efficiency and renewable generation projects and to aid in project development.
The 51 municipal and rural cooperative systems are represented by the New York Association of Public Power (NYAPP) and the Municipal Electric Utilities Association of New York State (MEUA), which negotiated the deal on behalf of the electric systems. Leathers, who is a Board member and officer of NYAPP, was honored by the groups as one of the primary leaders in the negotiations on behalf of the organizations and the electric customers of NYS.
“The long-term, continued availability of reasonably-priced hydroelectric power to Jamestown and other municipal systems is of utmost importance to the BPU’s ability to provide affordable electric rates to our customers,” stated Leathers. “This fifteen-year extension is a very significant achievement.”
BPU Board Chairman Gregory P. Rabb added, “The extension of this hydropower contract with NYPA means that the BPU can predict the majority of the Electric Division’s future fuel costs and plan accordingly to continue delivering reliable, affordable power.”
“The renewed power contract with NYPA will help keep BPU electric rates among the lowest in the nation and assist us as an economic development tool as we continue to revitalize our City,” expressed Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi.
NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the United States, operating sixteen generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit miles of transmission lines. More than seventy percent of the electricity produced by NYPA is clean and renewable hydropower.
In 1957, Congress passed the Niagara Redevelopment Act directing the Federal Power Commission to issue a fifty-year license to NYPA for the purpose of building and operating the hydropower facility at Niagara Falls. Since the first production of power in 1961, the Niagara Project has provided reliable supplies of inexpensive hydropower to businesses and residents of Western New York.
Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is the New York State commitment to lead on climate change and grow New York’s economy by building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system. The State goals are to stimulate investment in clean technologies such as solar, wind and energy efficiency and to require, with legislative action, that seventy percent of the state’s electric needs result from renewable energy by 2030.