Kingston, NY – Congressman John Faso and Senator James Seward today highlighted the introduction of the Local Taxpayer Protection Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would require licensed public hydropower facility operators to make annual payments to counties in order to cover the cost of providing services to the facility and surrounding community.
For most of 2017, Schoharie County and the New York Power Authority have been engaged in two ongoing negotiations discussing flood mitigation issues and outstanding compensation to the county for the services it provides to the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Facility and surrounding community. Despite some progress regarding flood mitigation concerns, NYPA unilaterally ended negotiations during the late fall of 2017 with no intention of trying to negotiate a meaningful agreement that both NYPA and the County could support.
“The New York Power Authority must get back to the table and negotiate in good faith with Schoharie County to ensure the County is able to continue to provide the necessary services to the project and local community,” said Faso. “Public power facilities of any kind, operated by NYPA or otherwise, must commit to be a good neighbor and support the community they are located in. This legislation will move the needle in that direction.”
Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I/Ref-Oneonta) said, "Schoharie County has a number of positive qualities and extraordinary potential for future growth. The New York Power Authority can be part of the successful equation by negotiating in good faith and working out a fair, long-term agreement that properly compensates the county for the demands associated with Blenheim-Gilboa. Should NYPA fail to do so on its own, I am encouraged that Congressman Faso is set to move forward with the Local Taxpayer Protection Act and I will fully support his efforts."
Earl Van Wormer, Chairman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors said, “Unlike New York City, the New York Power Authority has not lived up to expectations in being a willing and fruitful partner. The county has provided consistent support to Blenheim-Gilboa and we expect NYPA to at least engage with us in negotiations. Thank you to Congressman Faso for bringing attention to this issue.”
Chris Tague, Town of Schoharie Supervisor said, “Schoharie County has always been supportive of NYPA, but unfortunately the county doesn’t receive the same treatment. Given that our community has been greatly affected by floods in the past, it’s disappointing that NYPA will engage with larger counties, but not a smaller community like ours.”
Full background on the issue:
In April 2017, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) submitted its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to obtain a new 50-year license to operate the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Facility which is located entirely within Schoharie County.
Schoharie County provides police and emergency response services, maintains roads and transportation infrastructure around the project, and is charged with developing regional responses to common problems and opportunities. Despite the services Schoharie County provides to the B-G Project and broader community, as a tax-exempt entity, NYPA has not provided any regular compensation to the localities for the entirety of its 50-year operating history.
Background on the legislation:
To address ongoing issues with a lack of compensation to Schoharie County, Representative Faso introduced H.R. 5181, the Local Taxpayer Protection Act to ensure that local taxpayers are not solely bearing the responsibility for county services provided to the BG Project and surrounding community. This legislation would require NYPA to pay Schoharie County $1.8 million on an annual basis with a two percent annual increase to adjust for inflation. The payment would be required for the length of NYPA’s license to operate the Blenheim-Gilboa project.