Lewiston, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- New York Power Authority Chairman Michael Townsend and President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel joined state and local government officials Tuesday to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Niagara Power Project.
"Fifty years of power production at the Niagara Power Project is a testament to the dedication and leadership of such visionaries as President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Robert Moses. The hard work and sacrifice of the thousands of people who participated in the construction of the project and those today who commit themselves to continuing the outstanding performance of this marvelous facility," said Townsend. "It is in recognition of these accomplishments and the economic contributions of the Niagara Project that makes it important to commemorate the projects 50th anniversary."
"It's not only an honor but a privilege to be standing here today with former employees of the Niagara Power Project and the contractors who participated in its construction 50 years ago." said Kessel. "Their efforts are the reason why we are able to celebrate 50 years of power, without them Western New York could have been a lot different."
Much of NYPA's hydropower generated at the Niagara Power Project is designated for use and economic support in Western New York. In particular, the Replacement Power program was implemented to replace allocations once provided by the Schoellkopf plant before its disastrous 1956 rockslide and the Expansion Power program was later enacted to encourage further economic growth along the Niagara Frontier. Together, the two allocation programs account for about one-third of the Niagara project's firm generating output and today help support some 70 percent of the region's manufacturing jobs at rates significantly less than New York's average wholesale market price for electricity.
In the Western New York region, specifically, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, and Orleans counties, the Niagara Power Project today provides low-cost power to some 130 companies supporting about 31,000 jobs with a payroll estimated at more than $2.1 billion per year. According to studies, the project's low-cost electricity represents estimated annual savings of more than $500 million to its customers. These customers include the "replacement power" and "expansion power" industrial customers, most of which are located in Erie and Niagara counties.
Recent extension of hydropower contracts for more than 100 businesses in the region has solidified access to low-cost energy until 2020. These contracts are expected to help protect nearly 30,000 jobs while ensuring capital investments totaling approximately $150 million each year. Some of those companies include: Geico, General Motors, Moog, Globe Metallurgical, and Steuben Foods.
Other significant hydropower allocations recently approved by NYPA's trustees to Western New York projects include: Yahoo! Inc., APP Pharmaceuticals, Graphic Controls, I Squared R. Element, Niagara Coating Services, and Time Release Sciences.
"As one of the New York's most valued resources, the jobs and other benefits generated by electricity from the Niagara Power Project touch almost every home and business throughout Western New York. In recent years, NYPA has helped to create or preserve some 7,200 jobs in the region. The focus on job creation and retention in the region continues to be one of the Power Authority's top priorities," said President Kessel. "Niagara's benefits to New York are undeniable, as an engineering marvel, and indeed as a bulwark integral to supporting Western New York's economy."
Through the relicensing of the project, as of early 2011, NYPA has provided $109.4 million, towards a myriad of environmental, recreation, energy and economic development benefits in the local communities. In 50 years, at the end of the licensed term, NYPA will have provided approximately $1 billion in benefits to the Western New York region.
Senator George Maziarz, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, said: "This is a significant milestone in the history of our region and state. Our ability to harness the mighty power of Niagara Falls to generate electricity has had a transformative effect on our society. We owe a great deal to the hardworking men and women who built the plant fifty years ago and who have worked there since. This facility keeps our lights on. This facility creates jobs. This facility can be the catalyst for further economic growth in Western New York."
Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, 58th District, said: "When we first harnessed the power of Niagara Falls, Western New York put itself at the forefront of clean energy development. As we celebrate 50 years of energy production at the Niagara Power Project, we are reminded of our legacy of 'green' innovation and inspired to push forward with our efforts to foster the growth of emerging technologies. The Niagara Power Project has been and will continue to be an important contributor to our collective goals of creating jobs and growing the Western New York economy."
Assemblyman John Ceretto said: "The Niagara Power Project is an essential resource for the residents of Niagara County. The ability to provide low cost power to residents and businesses is an attraction other regions cannot match. I look forward to working hard to ensure the Niagara Power Project continues to be a valuable asset to Niagara County and its residents."
Assemblyman Mark Schroeder said: "While the rest of the world is just starting to shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, Western New York is celebrating a proud tradition of producing clean, safe hydropower on a large scale. The Niagara Power Project has been energizing our region's industry for a half century, and will help power our future as we move toward high-tech manufacturing and medical sciences."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said: "For a half-century the New York Power Authority has been an integral part of our region's industry and development. Niagara Falls and the greater Niagara/Buffalo area are poised to undergo an economic rebirth which, in large part, will be supported by the NYPA. I congratulate the New York Power Authority and CEO Richard Kessel on their fifty years of powerful service."
Thomas A. Kucharski, President and CEO, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, said: "For decades now, hydropower allocations from the Niagara Power Project have played a major role in economic development in the Buffalo Niagara region. Existing companies have benefited from these allocations as well as new companies to the region. In Buffalo Niagara Enterprise's eleven year history, twenty-five of our projects have received hydropower allocations, including well-known companies like Yahoo!, GEICO, and APP Pharmaceuticals. NYPA and the New York Power project have evolved into an incredibly important and valuable item in our region's economic development tool kit."
Deanna Alterio Brennen, President & CEO, Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce, said: "Not only has the Niagara Power Project been providing clean renewable energy in Niagara Region for the last fifty years, they have been a vital part of the area's economy. The Niagara USA Chamber would like to congratulate the Niagara Power Project on fifty years of service and on its commitment to Niagara County."