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The Long Sault Dam is part of the hydropower generating complex on the St. Lawrence River near Massena. Photo: New York Power Authority
The Long Sault Dam is part of the hydropower generating complex on the St. Lawrence River near Massena. Photo: New York Power Authority

St. Lawrence river towns seek more NYPA compensation

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St. Lawrence County and four towns want more compensation for the negative effects of producing hydropower on the St. Lawrence River near Massena.

The communities say a lot has changed since their last talks ten years ago with the New York Power Authority, which owns the power dam.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

A decade ago, St. Lawrence County and the towns of Massena, Louisville, Waddington, and Lisbon spent years negotiating with the New York Power Authority. NYPA needed a new 50 year federal license to run the massive hydropower dam.

It gave the communities 115 million dollars and returned several hundred acres of shoreline that was taken when the dam was built in the 1950s.

NYPA got its 50 year license from the federal government. But it included a clause allowing a review every ten years to assess economic conditions that were “not anticipated at the time of the relicensing.”

Massena town supervisor Joe Gray is also chairman of the Local Government Task Force, a coalition of the communities. He says a lot has changed in ten years…like General Motors laying off 500 in Massena.

No one in 2002 could have predicted that General Motors would go belly up.

Or NYPA installing more efficient turbines to more money from the dam.

The dramatic increase in electrical production.

Or what really chaps local officials…they believe people in Niagara Falls got a much better deal in their hydropower relicensing than St. Lawrence County did.

Local communities should be getting a greater economic benefit from the Power Authority than we currently receive.

The task force wrote NYPA a letter asking for a meeting this fall for a ten-year review.

NYPA spokeswoman Connie Cullen confirms the letter was received. She wouldn’t answer questions but she did read a prepared statement. It says NYPA will schedule a meeting in the near future.

To review the provisions in the relicensing settlement agreement with the task force that were part of the relicensing of the St. Lawrence hydroelectric power plant.

St. Lawrence County local government task force chairman Joe Gray says the point is this area made a huge sacrifice when the dam was built.

You’re talking about communities that did exist before the project that are now underwater. You’re talking about tying up a shoreline that allows for little to no private access from the western edge of Waddington to the eastern edge of Massena.

That means few restaurants, marinas, hotels or other economic development.

With all of New York State enjoying electricity and money from the kilowatts produced in their backyard, the towns still believe they haven’t gotten enough in return.

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