Officials weigh hydro report

The city of Watertown’s Municipal Power Plant on Marble Street. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The City Council is expected to discuss a report on the future revenue of the hydroelectric plant at a work session today.

A report from a consultant, who has worked with a hydro committee to study what it may mean to the city after a lucrative contract ends in 2029, is the sole item on the agenda. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at city hall.

John “Skip” Trimble, managing director of AMBER Energy U.S. Inc, Severna Park, Md., is expected to detail his findings.

Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said there may be some good news in the report.

“The landing might be somewhat softer,” he said on Friday.

He said the initial report reveals that instead of the hydroelectric plant making $6 million a year for the city, there is a projection that it could “still make $2 million, which is significantly less, but better than where we thought we were going to be.”

A committee, including former mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr., has been studying the future economic impact of the 95-year-old plant on Marble Street for months.

The hydro plant supplies electricity to more than 20 city buildings and properties. After using the energy from the hydroelectric plant for its buildings, the city sells its excess power to National Grid.

In 1991, the city began an agreement to sell electricity to power company, then Niagara Mohawk. When it expires in 2029, the power company will pay the city 34.78 cents per kwh. The city currently receives 25.82 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Earlier this year Mr. Trimble strongly recommended that the city not sell the hydro plant act it is an asset with long term potential.

“It’s a legacy asset,” he told members of the city’s hydro committee in August “It’s a legacy, once-in-a-lifetime asset.”

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