Since the flooding of the reservoir in 1930, the Regulating District has generated revenue by assessing headwater benefit charges to hydroelectric power companies along the Hudson River. The Regulating District has used these fees for operation of the Conklingville Dam and to pay school and property taxes to municipalities around the lake.
In the fall of 2008 a Federal Court ruled that the Regulating District could no longer assess these fees against Federal Energy Regulatory Commisssion (FERC) licensed hydroelectric companies. This ruling has resulted in a shortfall of several million dollars, nearly 80%, of the Regulating District's annual budget. As a result, the Regulating District has been unable to pay its School or Property taxes.
In an effort to make up for the shortfall in revenue, the Regulating District sent flood control bills to five downstream counties (Albany, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Warren, and Washington) totaling more than $9.5 million dollars for 2009 & 2011. The five counties have filed a lawsuit against the Regulating District opposing these assessments.
In January 2011 two Albany area legislators re-introduced legislation that would abolish the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District (HRBRRD) and replace it with the New York State Power Authority (NYPA). This legislation was in retaliation to the HRBRRD's recent assessment of the costs of reservoir operations to the 5 downstream counties determined to be flood control beneficiaries. Through the efforts of the SPC and others, the legislation was previously stalled at the close of the June 2010 legislative session. We are still opposed to this plan and are actively working to prevent it from moving forward. Additional information on this legislation and the SPC position on this issue can be found on our website here.
The SPC continues to be active in searching for both short term and long term solutions to this critical issue. The SPC has contacted U.S. Congressmen Chris Gibson, Paul Tonko, and Bill Owens and U.S. Senators Gillibrand and Schumer about sponsoring Federal Legislation to restore the funding process that had been in effect since the creation of the District.
The Regulating District and the five Counties involved in the recent funding lawsuit have had their oral arguments in Court in December 2010 and we are back in court March 15. The current lack of funding has had a very serious impact on the District’s ability to pay local School and Property taxes, as well as its ability to accomplish work in the Hudson River region.
At their March 12, 2013 meeting the Hudson River Black River Regulating District Board passed a resolution approving a settlement with five downstream counties (Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington) over flood control assessments.
This agreement is a major step forward in the operation of the HRBRRD. However, the District continues to have to deal with multiple lawsuits from some downstream hydropower companies who were part of the NYS downstream beneficiaries, and are now suing the District for recovery of their earlier payments. Also NIMO continues to sue the District to reduce their assessments for downstream properties.
Several articles have been published on this issue and linked below: