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Published in Politics


Part IV: NYPA suddenly in the news

By Frank Parlato Jr.

20 April, 2006

For almost 50 years we never heard much about the New York Power Authority (NYPA). Now they want license renewal and daily we are hearing about the generosity of NYPA in newspaper stories. They are joining green commissions, bringing in terrorist experts, and offering “huge” monetary incentives to municipalities, (if they pledge to vote for 50 year renewal.)

Uninformed people read the stories and say- “gee whiz! Lewiston–Porter is going to get a million dollars. Boy- we just won the lottery. Thank you Philip Morris, er- I mean, thank you NYPA.”

But we OWN the lottery.

The Niagara River is in our midst.


NYPA makes more than 500 million per year from the Niagara River, even after patronage, and studies done by politically connected consultants are subtracted.

To put it in perspective, say you made $500 per week -- thanks to the essential help of some people, and, in return, you gave them 50 cents a week.

To make the picture clearer, while you dutifully gave your 50 cents every week to those without whom your license could not be renewed-- you spent on political hacks and consultants -from your expense account- a thousand a week.

This is no exaggeration.

NYPA’s budget, for example, for re-licensing is $52.1 million- and much of it is for consultants who perform seemingly endless studies.

The NYPA minutes are sometimes laughable but they help illustrate the point:
As reported in the Niagara Falls reporter:

"The number of studies identified in the 2002 meetings was used to estimate 2003 study budgets," it is explained in the minutes from a NYPA board meeting held on Sept. 23, 2003."

However, the level of studies increased and additional studies were added in 2003 which led to unanticipated costs in 2003. Although very successful, (re-licensing effort) has taken longer than anticipated, which further compresses the time allocated to conduct studies and gather information. This time compression, coupled with the additional studies and/or expanded level of study effort, has increased the re-licensing costs beyond those anticipated in 2001 at the time of the initial contract award."

NYPA increased the amount for “studies” from $15.9 million to $24.9 million, and re-licensing director Keith Silliman told NYPA that they might need $13 million more (for studies, mainly) to complete the renewal process.

$52.1 million, by the way, is more than half what NYPA offered Buffalo and Erie County over 50 years.

Congressmen Brian Higgins called NYPA – “Enron like –in their excesses.” But he misses the point. Higgins is fighting NYPA, trying to get for Buffalo, not two million a year, but ten million- a figure which represents four thousandths of a percent of NYPA’s annual revenue.

But, if the license isn’t renewed, and the Niagara region controlled its own Hydro- Power, then, instead of $10 million, Higgins could have $100 million a year for Buffalo.

But nobody’s talking about that.

Officials in most municipalities have signed on because, after literally being starved out by Albany, with our parks and our power –a pittance seems like a fortune.


Copyright © Frank Parlato Jr.