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Municipal power alliance clears legislative hurdle

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Two-dozen towns in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties may soon be able to join forces and create a municipal electric company. This non-profit company could cut power bills by buying and distributing its own electricity, cutting out the utility middleman.

Right now, each town has the right to form its own electric company, similar to those in Massena, Lake Placid and Tupper Lake. But, it doesn't make sense for small, rural towns to go it alone. That's according to Bob Best. He's president of the Alliance for Municipal Power, or AMP. The group has worked for more than a decade to establish a municipal power company in rural St. Lawrence County.

He said that while each town could form its own electric company, state law doesn't allow towns to come together in a single municipal company. AMP has been asking state lawmakers to change that. The state Senate passed a bill clearing the way this week. It goes next to the Assembly, and if approved, on to the governor.

Municipal power companies have also faced stiff opposition from utilities, long legal battles to win control of the local transmission system, and penalties when they left the grid.
Best told Martha Foley this takeover, from National Grid, could be a friendly one, once the legislature and governor sign off.

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Martha Foley
News and Public Affairs Director

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