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Watertown considers ways to replace hydropower revenue

Published: May. 7, 2021 at 8:09 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Discussions continue on the future of Watertown’s hydropower plant.

The city brings in millions of dollars a year in a hydropower deal it has with National Grid, but that deal is set to expire at the end of the decade.

In Watertown city hall Thursday night, the hydroelectric task force convened for its second time to discuss the future of the city’s hydropower plant.

Run by former Mayor Joseph Butler, the group is looking at the longevity of the city’s current hydropower deal with National Grid.

“It’s important to communicate to the mayor and the council when we are all done, what that revenue stream looks so they can begin to prepare budgets now and in future,” Butler said.

Butler says under the current deal, the city brought in over $4 million last year and that number could roughly increase to almost $6.5 million when the deal is set to expire in 2030.

That’s a big driver for why these conversations need to happen now.

“So you can’t prepare for that tremendous and significant loss of revenue in just one year,” Butler said. “You have to, you know, absorb that over several years.”

The city uses the electricity from the hydroplant to power more than 20 buildings and properties and then sells the excess back to National Grid.

Butler says a big question moving forward is the future of hydropower and if it will be feasible to continue its current operation.

It’s something he says they are looking to get a second opinion on.

“You know, someone that is in that business on a day-to-day basis, makes a living at it,” he said. “I think it’s important to get their input on it "

Butler says the group will meet again in early June and will possibly take a tour of the plant to continue to learn more about what the future could hold.

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