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Power Authority further woos Verizon with hydropower offer

verizon servers.jpg
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Verizon could soon be piggybacking on a trend Yahoo! started: using the Buffalo area's cold temperatures to cool its data servers.

The New York Power Authority approved 25 megawatts of low-cost hydropower Tuesday for a potential Verizon data center in Niagara County. Local officials hope the incentive will convince the communications company to locate a data center in Niagara County. But Verizon was looking for a more generous offer.

The agreement would hinge on Verizon creating 145 jobs within four years. The deal also assumes Verizon would invest more than $1.1 billion in the area during that time frame.

But each megawatt of highly-sought-after hydropower would create less than six jobs, a near historical low for any project awarded electricity from the Niagara Falls Power Project.

"Right now we have to look at how we can create jobs no matter what it takes. Some of the old formulas and ratios don't work in this difficult economy. And we're committed to trying to create jobs no matter how creative we have to be," said Richard Kessel, president of the New York Power Authority.

 Under the deal, Verizon would pay around a penny a kilowatt, about one-tenth of what residential customers pay for their electricity. Senator George Maziarz says he expects Verizon to come to Somerset, despite the fact NYPA's offer was less than they requested.

"They were asking for 30 [megawatts]. Ultimately they may get 30 but right now 25 is a great start," Masiarz said.

"Obviously if NYPA can give them more [hydropower], it would have been a better benefit. They would have liked to have all hydropower," said Richard Meyers, Somerset Town Supervisor.

He says Verizon is waiting 30 to 60 days to make its decision based on what local officials can do to move away obstacles. Recently the Somerset Town Board rezoned a 150 acre plot of land Verizon is eyeing.

 "Well I think Verizon has this giant puzzle and they're looking for all the pieces to fit right in the puzzle. And this is probably one of the last pieces that needed to go in there," Myers said.

The Niagara County Industrial Development must first seek approval for tax deal for Verizon, which would keep the communications giant from paying its full load of taxes for two decades. A public hearing on that incentives package will be November 3rd.

The company is also considering other sites across the country. Verizon already has 250 data centers in the United States, including more than 20 in New York State.


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WXXI/Finger Lakes reporter for the Innovation Trail.
WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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