Town Wins Two Significant Decisions in Northport Power Plant Assessment Case

Last week, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that kept in the case the 1997 pledge as part of the agreement between LIPA and LILCO not to challenge the Northport plant's assessment as long as the plant's assessment was not disproportionately increased. The two Appellate Division decisions, in cases filed by the Town of Huntington and the Northport-East Northport School District, noted both a letter then-LIPA chairman Richard Kessel sent to the Town and statements Kessel made to the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association. In both instances, Kessel said LIPA and LILCO would drop any pending tax certiorari cases and not initiate any further ones at any time in the future.

These decisions can be considered big wins for the Town and the school district. How big? The analyst at Moody's Investors Service who follows the Northport-East Northport School District called the decision "credit positive" for the school district and noted that "the ruling will benefit other local governments on New York's Long Island with tax bases that also have significant exposure to LIPA." The analyst specifically cited the Town as one of those governments.

The second development was action by the Town Board in response to recent state legislation requiring LIPA and National Grid to study the feasibility of repowering the Northport Plant. In a resolution we sponsored, the Town Board, at the July 11 meeting, voted to create a "Repower Now Citizens Committee." This nine-member committee will include representatives from the Town, the school district, the Villages of Northport and Asharoken, as well as persons with engineering and sustainable energy backgrounds. Creating this committee will allow local residents to provide input into the LIPA-National Grid repowering analysis.

We have said since the outset of LIPA filing its assessment challenge that repowering Northport would provide a solution both to the assessment case and to Long Island's future energy needs. We have contended that repowering existing plants such as Northport is more cost-effective than building new plants and have offered not to increase the assessment on the plant to reflect any improvements that are the result of repowering. We hope that the Repower Now Citizens Committee will help provide relevant information that will help the LIPA-National Grid feasibility study reach the same conclusion. The Town is currently seeking experts to serve on the Committee.

We are at the place in the case - pretrial proceedings -- where events develop slowly. But do no read the lack of new information as an indication that we have weakened our resolve. We still stand firm and united in our determination to beat back LIPA's effort to slash its taxes while raising yours.

We will continue contacting you when we have new things to report.


Supervisor Frank P. Petrone and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson

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