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Coalition pursuing share of bounty
News Staff Reporter
With the Niagara River rolling behind them Wednesday, representatives of the Public Power Coalition continued their campaign for inclusion in the relicensing agreement for the Niagara Power Project.

The power project's effects on the river and its tributaries - particularly Tonawanda and Ellicott creeks - is the root of the campaign by the coalition, comprising the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda, and the towns of Amherst, Grand Island and Tonawanda.

This week, the coalition filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission documenting the economic, environmental and social impacts.

The Town of Tonawanda, for example, suffers from fluctuating water levels that affect its water treatment plant's operations, as well as shoreline erosion and sediment buildup in its boat harbor, according to Supervisor Ronald H. Moline.

"We are entitled to the same consideration that other communities are receiving along the Niagara River," Moline said at a news conference in the town's Aqua Lane Park. Coalition communities were not mentioned in the draft environmental impact statement prepared by the New York State Power Authority, which is seeking a 50-year license for the power project in Lewiston. Myriad settlements were negotiated with entities in Niagara County.

The coalition seeks a settlement that includes, among other things, $5 million a year for water treatment and erosion control, and low-cost power for use by residents, municipalities and businesses.

Settlements already negotiated with the power authority will give other communities more money for education, infrastructure and keeping property taxes low, said North Tonawanda Mayor Lawrence V. Soos. "What that does to our municipalities . . . it makes it tougher to compete," Soos said.