Hydroelectric Company Cuts Funding of Candlewood Lake Authority

The following is a press release from the Candlewood Lake Authority

For Immediate Release

Hydroelectric Company Cuts Funding of Candlewood Lake Authority

CLA calls decision shocking, disappointing and unfair to towns

NEW MILFORD, CT, JULY 5, 2011 – On Friday, June 24th, the Candlewood Lake Authority learned that First Light Power Resources was going to dramatically reduce their contribution to the Authority’s 2010‐2011 operating budget. The news came with less than a week left in the budget year, leaving the Authority no time to adjust for the shortfall in revenues.

In the mid 1980s, the power company that owned the lake at that time, CL&P, had agreed to contribute a share of the CLA’s budget equal to that of each member municipality (Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Sherman) or one‐sixth. This practice was followed by all the power companies that owed the lake since that time, including FirstLight, up until this year. For the 2010‐2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30th, the appropriation from each town was approximately $60,500 dollars. Instead of contributing an equal share, FirstLight elected to reduce its contribution by approximately $45,000 dollars to $15,000 dollars, citing reduced revenues from the Rocky River (Candlewood Lake) Station, cost pressures from the surrounding municipalities, and costs associated with the threat of zebra mussels.

The CLA expressed shock in FirstLight’s decision and its timing stating that an invoice had been sent to FirstLight and all the municipalities over a year ago. Several follow up notices were also sent to FirstLight with no reply. In recent years, FirstLight had made their full contribution toward the end of the fiscal year. In mid June of this year, however, the Authority was informed by FirstLight that the request was being considered after receiving additional CLA correspondence. On June 23rd Mr. John Shue of GDF Suez, FirstLight’s parent company, informed New Fairfield First Selectman John Hodge of their decision and later informed the CLA’s Executive Director Larry Marsicano.

The CLA’s Chairman, Howie Berger, responded to Mr. Shue in writing, and copied the Mayors and First Selectmen of the CLA towns, expressing his disappointment in their decision. The letter also listed many of the services the CLA provides the lake community, noting that many of the services are provided on other FERC lakes by the licensee themselves. Candlewood Lake is part of the Housatonic Hydropower facilities operated by FirstLight under their license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

‐ More ‐Mr. Berger called the decision unfair to the five municipalities who have always provided the lion’s share of the CLA’s budget, including those funds used for public safety on the federally regulated waters, and suggested that the CLA will have to evaluate potential cuts in services next year. Mr. Berger estimated the value of the services that FirstLight, as the federal licensee, benefits from is in excess of $200,000 dollars annually. These services not only include providing a public safety, e.g. a Marine Patrol, but also developing lake advocacy, education and outreach programs. The CLA has been the primary advocate of Candlewood Lake for many years; has led a task force to prevent introduction of zebra mussels into Candlewood Lake since last December; and only last week, the CLA and its partners concluded the 2010‐2011 Project CLEAR (Candlewood Lake Environmental Awareness and Responsibility) program which provided 125 local high school students the opportunity to learn about and conduct environmental research on the lake.

For more information contact the Candlewood Lake Authority at (860) 354‐6928.

*****

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Posted on July 6, 2011, in Home. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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