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Sun., Dec. 21
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Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Power failure

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During the first half of this year, National Grid has become an obstacle to finding ways of solving two overarching community needs in Jefferson County — housing and jobs.

Tuesday’s Times reported that the Woods Farm in the town of Cape Vincent has been unable to use its $1.5 million investment in a high-technology milking parlor because National Grid had yet to connect three-phase power from its circuits a mere 175 feet away from the new facility. The delay costs the farm $2,000 a day. The power was originally anticipated in May, but now the Woods have to wait until July for National Grid to finish its work.

In May, completion of a 90-unit housing project at Madison Barracks in Sackets Harbor was delayed until summer because National Grid, which had planned to have power in place last fall, did not start work until this month. The project by Lawler Realty is now expected to have 10 three-bedroom units available for rent in July.

In early April, construction on the Morgan housing project on County Route 202 was delayed because National Grid had failed to design the required power lines to operate a sewage pumping station. That led to a delay of as long as four months, preventing eager tenants from moving into the new apartments.

In March, the COR Development Beaver Meadows project behind Target had to overcome delays because National Grid failed to meet the construction timetable. The first tenants at Beaver Meadows finally moved in in mid-June.

In January, three military families could not move into new houses at the Deerfield Subdivision in the town of Pamelia because National Grid had not installed power for the pump station.

These apartment complexes are a significant piece of the investments the state, private investors and local governments are making to provide quality housing to the community, which suffers from a very low vacancy rate. The projects are key to ameliorating ever-escalating rents in a county where decent jobs are lacking.

In each of these cases, National Grid told Times reporters that the root of the problem was inadequate communications with the developer. That is merely an excuse; good maybe for one time at most, but five times is inexcusable. It is incumbent on National Grid to recognize that the need for housing and the need for power in the growing agricultural industry is important to the north country and to the state. These projects provide jobs, they provide hope for families wanting a better place to call home and we all want a more balanced housing market.

National Grid, as the sole provider of electricity in Jefferson County, must correct its failure to facilitate projects that will provide apartments, houses, jobs and milk in the grocery store.

A meeting is scheduled Tuesday between developers and National Grid in Watertown. The power company should not leave the meeting until the issues are resolved with a clear path for communication and expeditious work to meet development needs. If not, the state Public Service Commission or state attorney general should consider in investigation of National Grid’s practices.

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