Niagara Gazette

August 15, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Benefits of NYPA getting lost in salary talk

By Gil C. Quiniones
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — An Aug. 14 editorial on a recent report by the state comptroller on the New York Power Authority (NYPA) repeated incorrect assertions, misstated facts and short-shrifted the major benefits that NYPA brings to Western New York and other parts of the state.

More than 30,000 jobs on the Niagara Frontier are directly tied to the low-cost hydropower from the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant. Thousands of other Western New York jobs are also linked to Governor Cuomo’s ReCharge NY program, administered by NYPA.

NYPA is providing more than $1 billion in benefits to the region from the 2007 relicensing of the Niagara plant. Other recent benefits include grants totaling nearly $7 million to area enterprises from the net earnings of unutilized hydropower, and the use of local contracting firms for major capital investments in the Niagara plant.

The Gazette inaccurately referred to the comptroller’s report as an audit. The Comptroller’s Office called it a “profile” and never contacted NYPA about any of the speculations in the report. Furthermore, the Gazette inaccurately reported NYPA’s debt as more than 100 times the actual amount. (Editor’s note: DiNapoli’s report details NYPA’s debt as $1.75 billion. A Wednesday editorial misstated the amount.)

Other facts:

• The combined value of NYPA’s salaries and benefits are significantly less than investor-owned electric utilities. NYPA must retain and attract a highly skilled work force to ensure the safe and reliable operation of its facilities. Close to two-thirds of NYPA’s positions are in technical and engineering fields.

• NYPA’s small eight-seat prop plane enhances efficiency by cutting travel time to difficult locations such as our St. Lawrence plant, where commercial flights are limited. It is used primarily by NYPA engineers and technical personnel — and only when it is the most cost-effective travel option.

These are key points, for clarity and accurate reporting.

Gil C. Quiniones is the president and chief executive officer of the New York Power Authority.