A bill paving the way for a municipally-owned power company in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties passed the state assembly yesterday. The bill to create the North Country Power Authority has already passed the state senate. Robert Best of the Alliance for Municipal Power has been working on the project for almost 20 years.
"It's a milestone in creating a not-for-profit power utility for the North Country," Best said. "It will help with long-term economic development, provide local control of infrastructure and help bring some jobs--all the benefits of local control."
The bill passed 100-20 with no floor debate. Assembly sponsor Democrat Addie Russell says she got help from Republicans Dede Scozzafava and Teresa Sayward to ensure easy passage.
"Some members of the conference didn't vote for it in committees all through the process so I expected there would be some negative votes," said Russell. "But I have to give a lot of credit to colleagues of mine for getting their colleagues to understand how important this is for the North Country and that is something that many should be standing behind."
The next stop for the North Country Power Authority is the governor's desk. Robert Best says he's been keeping Governor Paterson's energy aides up to date on the bill's progress. He expects Paterson to sign it into law. Then Best says he'll be able to begin negotiations with National Grid on buying power lines and substations in the 24 towns.