AMP chairman says give municipalities back their money
Mar 29, 2012 (Watertown Daily Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The chairman of the Alliance for Municipal Power may push to return about $80,000 to municipalities since the North Country Power Authority cannot function for lack of a quorum and there is no word on when appointments will come.
"We can hold onto the town and village money for only so long," Robert C. Best Jr. said. "At this point in time, I may call for a meeting and entertain the idea of returning the money to the towns and have North Country Power Authority go to them directly. My attitude is 'I'm moving on.'"
AMP is the organization of two dozen municipalities in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties that pushed for the creation of NCPA, which was signed into law in 2010 to bring low-cost electricity through a public utility.
Starting off with five of its nine-member board, the majority of NCPA almost immediately squabbled with Chairman James I. Monroe over the transition from AMP and its contract with Howrey, a Washington, D.C., law firm that went bankrupt. After NCPA board member Robert R. Burns resigned over the infighting in May, the board was unable to take any action because it did not have enough members.
Mr. Best withdrew his name for consideration as a NCPA board member partly because he was told a conflict existed as he was also the supervisor for the town of Russell, one of the communities meant to become part of the public utility. That reasoning also could affect the nomination to the board of Canton Supervisor David T. Button.
"I have heard nothing from them since my name was submitted more than a year ago," Mr. Button said.
NCPA board member Marie C. Regan is the Potsdam town supervisor, but her appointment came under a different administration.
Other candidates whose names were in the pipeline for appointment to NCPA were Clarkson University professor Stephen D. Bird, Gouverneur representative Michael D. Perrigo, SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy and James T. Spencer, Norfolk.
NCPA is technically even smaller than it appears because the appointment of St. Lawrence County Legislator Frederick S. Morrill was for only a year, although he may serve until his replacement is named, Mr. Best said.
A representative of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office did not return a phone call or email on when appointments might be expected. Mr. Monroe was unavailable for comment.
"I haven't heard anything, nothing," Mr. Morrill said. "I won't meet until there's a board to meet with."
Unhappy with NCPA's lack of progress, the village of Potsdam decided this week to cut off funding to AMP.
Mr. Best said the organization achieved its goal with the creation of NCPA.
More than a year ago, AMP handed liability associated with its contract with Howrey over to NCPA but it never accepted.
While the company spent more than $3 million on AMP's goals, payback was tied to bonding for the system, which would be the responsibility of NCPA, Mr. Best said.
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