Niagara Gazette —
The public will get its chance today to weigh in on a proposed tax break for a Niagara Falls company that specializes in generating steam energy by burning municipal and industrial waste.
There is already dissenting opinions on whether the tax break is a good thing or not.
The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is considering granting Falls-based Covanta Energy a 15-year Payment-in-Leiu-of-Taxes, or PILOT, agreement, pending comments from a public hearing scheduled for 3:45 p.m. today at city hall.
Covanta officials have told the NCIDA the company plans to spend $30 million to allow it to take deliveries of waste by rail — primarily from New York City — to build a natural gas furnace used as a backup for waste incinerators and to build a steam expansion line.
Covanta will supply the nearby Greenpac facility, a new liner board factory to be operated by Normpac Inc., with steam energy through a mile-long pipeline that would run between the two facilities.
Company officials say the expansion will lead to the creation of 23 new, full-time jobs, while allowing Covanta to retain the 86 employees that already work at the plant off 56th Street. The project would create 160 construction jobs, according to the company's application for the PILOT.
James Regan, a spokesman for Covanta Energy, said the expansion would not mean that the company would burn more garbage, but would allow the company to more consistently fulfill its contracts.
"That infrastructure would ensure that reliable supply of fuel so that we can supply steam for our customers," Regan said.
Henry Sloma, the president of the NCIDA, has endorsed the project, saying that it will bring more jobs to the area while turning waste into energy.
"I'd rather see garbage turned into energy than end up in a landfill," Sloma said.