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Part III: How was our Hydro Power Stolen from us?

By Frank Parlato Jr.

19 April, 2006

It was in Niagara Falls that hydro- electric energy was first demonstrated to the world and the promise made that the common people could have inexpensive (if not free) electricity. By diverting the rushing power of descending water, Niagara Falls came to be known as “the Power City”. And, for years, the region profited.

Following a collapse of a Niagara Mohawk power plant from a rockslide in 1957, Albany and Washington worked together to divert local control of hydro -power.

Sage voices warned against it, but Albany prevailed, promising everything to everyone.
We were told we needed NYPA, headed by the power-mad Robert Moses, to manage our power, and make sure the people, not a few, greedy, corporate barons or political patronage hogs – got the benefit.

It turned out to be precisely the opposite.

After 50 years, the people who have the greatest hydro -power potential in the world, neither get the use of that power nor have inexpensive electric bills.


Because they are going to get an apple a day.

NYPA, hoping to bypass congressional approval by getting local "consensus" to support its proposed new licensing, is attempting to silence/buy off everyone who they label as

“Stakeholders,” a euphemism for “potential squeaky wheels.”

“Stakeholders” must be satisfied they are getting fairly compensated for the use of our regional asset and sign off on the re-licensing agreement.

Niagara County has already settled.  Each of seven “stakeholders” there will get a tiny stipend – roughly equivalent to a single apple out of an orchard per year.

Niagara Falls, Niagara County, the towns of Niagara and Lewiston, and the Niagara –Wheatfield, Lewiston -Porter, and Niagara Falls School Districts settled for $233 million over 50 years, including a "signing bonus" of $8 million, and $5 million annually through the end of the license agreement.

Niagara's communities will also receive an allocation of low-cost power from the authority. In computing the deal, the full retail value of the electricity offered at low cost isused to inflate the value of the settlement to more than one billion over 50 years.

It seems fabulous at first glance. A billion dollars!!!

The five million which the seven Niagara county entities would split, however, isn’t factored for inflation. In a highly inflationary period – such as we saw the last 50 years, that five million could wind up being equivalent to the buying power of $500,000 or less.
Consider what $500,000 was 50 years ago.

A Parallel with Albany's Control of Falls Tourisms most locals know, Albany controls tourism in Niagara Falls. By their aggressively pro- Albany management of the Niagara Falls State Park – the most visited state park in the USA, Albany, which controls all major concessions and parking, diverts both tourists and profits away from the city and its people - and into the park- then sends the profits to Albany. It is tantamount to a Tourism Authority, and has helped bankrupt a city where 17 million tourists visit annually. 

Have you ever heard of a city getting 17 million paying visitors – 300 to every resident – every year- and is broke?

But there is no satiating Albany- a city which exists solely for politics. They took our two greatest assets—hydro-power and tourisms and diverted it to themselves.


Copyright © Frank Parlato Jr.