Massena and the surrounding area in St. Lawrence County have been facing some tough times.
The closing of General Motors Powertrain facility meant losses of more than 500 jobs. And Alcoa, which employed more than 1,000 workers, is looking to reduce its workforce by one-third. Add to that the effects of the recent recession and it is understandable how perilous the economic picture is in communities along the river in St. Lawrence County.
However, there is a key asset that can be a real factor in righting the course again: The St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Plant, owned by the New York Power Authority, which generates millions of dollars in revenue annually.
In 2003, a relicensing settlement with NYPA brought $115 million to the communities along the river in St. Lawrence County. Now, more than 10 years after the NYPA relicensing settlement, the St. Lawrence Relicensing Task Force proposed that a larger settlement should be agreed upon.
Other communities have received much larger settlement agreements. Buffalo, Erie and Niagara counties received $973 million for the relicensing of the Niagara Power Plant in Lewiston, a difference of more than $850 million compared to the St. Lawrence communities.
During the relicensing settlement negotiations, NYPA promised that if industries change and companies close plants in St. Lawrence County, they would work with the affected communities and with the governor to bring new jobs to the area with low cost power. Unfortunately, that scenario has occurred job losses and unstable economic conditions have forced closures and downsizing.
I believe we must call on NYPA to come to the table and provide more assistance. I have been in discussion with the St. Lawrence Relicensing Task Force, NYPA representatives and the governors office to work for a new settlement amount that will bring critical funds to the affected communities. I urge everyone to write to NYPA and to the governor urging more revenue be directed toward our communities instead of being transferred to the states general budget as has been the case.
Addie J. Russell
The writer is the Democratic representative of the 116th District in the New York State Assembly.