Via the "The Buffalo News" (sign-in needed) we just learned that "A state commission is recommending that low-cost hydropower currently limited to businesses within a 30-mile radius of the Niagara Power Project be made available to businesses in six Western New York counties": - Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming. "Extension to a wider geographic area comes after critics from other parts of the state noted that the region had been unable to find enough eligible firms to use all of the low-cost electricity available." "Profits from the sale of unallocated hydropower [about 400 megawatts] currently reserved for businesses near the Niagara Power Project or the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project in northern New York would go into a pool of funds reserved for economic development purposes. Half of the money would go to the region where the power is produced, with the other half going into a statewide pool". Can you imagine this? Wind power generators can sell all they can make, while one of the US' largest hydroelectric facilities, driven by Niagara Falls, could not find enough customers. Even more surprising, is the apparent lack of recognition by economic development planners and power utility commissioners that every bit of Niagara's power is green and for the time being more reliable than hydropower from the drought-plagued Western US. What will it take for them to realize the sustainability value, and leverage this power for businesses wanting to offer carbon neutrality to their customers? Maybe a fantastically early, destructive winter storm would get their attention. Or not.
Meanwhile, as our Eric Kane reports, Governor Pataki showed signs of getting it.
We wonder how many small businesses in Western NY State have figured out that they could make a reasonable claim to fully carbon neutral operations, just by running off the Niagara?
We're talking about a virtuous circle here. Use the Niagara to mitigate climate change by fostering the growth of green businesses. Only by doing that now, to the fullest extent possible, is there a chance of precluding the darkest of climate disaster scenarios, where runoff from the Great Lakes is reduced by mid-century, causing the Niagara River to lose much of its flow. Yes TreeHuggers, Environment Canada has outline that very scenario as plausible.
So, let's hear a title-earning, waterfall-dimming roar from you TreeHugging New Yorkers. Make it Green Empire State, or what?
Photo credit: Space Imaging