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BACKGROUND

The New York Power Authority was granted a new 50-year federal license operate our Niagara Power Project in March, 2007.  The license took effect on September 1, 2007. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC’s) action to issue a new license is the final step in an extensive process that began in 2002.

Stakeholder Involvement
In order to encourage enhanced public participation during the multi-year relicensing effort, we used an Alternative Licensing Process approved by federal regulators. Stakeholder involvement included active participation by governmental agencies, environmental organizations, municipalities, Native American tribes, business groups, hydropower customers and other interested parties. NYPA staff and independent contractors conducted more than 40 studies to address stakeholder interests. We used these studies to produce NYPA’s Applicant-Prepared Environmental Assessment and to reach settlement agreements with key stakeholder groups.

Settlement agreements reflect issues that are important to the stakeholder groups and may include both license-related and non-license commitments made by the Power Authority. The goal of these agreements is to allow NYPA to meet its federal regulatory obligations as a supplier of low-cost hydroelectricity while providing additional benefits to communities near its power project.

Key Milestones
NYPA applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a new license in August 2005. Our license application was supported by the environmental assessment and settlement agreements.

A significant milestone was reached in December 2006 when FERC issued a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the last regulatory step prior to issuance of a new operating license for the Niagara project. A draft EIS had been issued in July 2006. Both documents incorporate much of the information compiled in NYPA’s environmental assessment along with input gathered during meetings with more than 100 stakeholders starting in January 2003.

Two other approvals required for the relicensing were issued prior to the federal license. In January 2006, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued a Section 401 Water Quality Certificate, and in February 2006, the state’s Department of State issued a Coastal Zone Consistency Determination. Both documents are necessary prerequisites to the issuance of a new federal license.

License Approved
On March 15, 2007, FERC approved a new 50-year license for the Niagara project, to take effect Sept. 1, 2007. The Commission also approved a comprehensive settlement agreement resolving issues among stakeholders associated with the relicensing process.

In approving the new license FERC noted it was ensuring that a valuable source of low-cost power for Western New York will continue operating with improved environmental protections and recreational benefits. The new license conditions will also protect and enhance fish and wildlife, water quality, recreational resources and historic properties, according to the commission’s announcement.

With all relicensing approvals now in hand, NYPA will continue to meet with stakeholders and other interested parties as it begins to implement the many benefits that will result during the Niagara project’s second half-century of operation.


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