Niagara Gazette — To Higgins, the concept is simple: The community needs money for infrastructure improvements and the power authority has it - lots of it.
"What we have tried to do is present this in terms everybody can understand," he said. "In doing so, we're owed a response. If I'm wrong, tell me I'm wrong."
Higgins said he is scheduled to meet with power authority officials to discuss his proposal on Monday. He'll enter the meeting armed with the authority's own revenue figures and projections, data that he says shows Niagara is generating a great deal, but not necessarily benefiting in full from the returns.
During his press conference earlier this month, Higgins noted that the Niagara project is the most productive facility within the authority's statewide system, generating more than $1 billion in the last six years to finance operations in other parts of New York. In addition, according to the authority's own figures, he said the plant contributed 76 percent of the $309 million surplus the system accumulated in 2008. Beyond that, Higgins said, excess water flows at Niagara generated nearly $40 million for the authority last year alone and estimates suggest those profits will continue to increase as the facility expands its generating capacity.
"It's the unique natural resources of Western New York that made that possible," Higgins said.
In the months ahead, Higgins said he intends to use the resources of his office to bring about change for the better in the Falls. He said he believes this side of the border can offer an attractive alternative to Niagara Falls, Ont. He'd like the city's business districts to offer what he likened to a Niagara-on-the-Lake appeal, where visitors find pleasant, natural surroundings and a variety of small businesses, shops and restaurants.