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Community Center fights for municipal power

National Grid vying to maintain contract

Dwayne Houghton

— The SRCT cannot divulge what it pays National grid per kilowatt hour under terms of its contact, Wallace said. National Grid would not comment on the rates it charges the YMCA.

The Skaneateles YMCA currently spends 15 percent of its operating expenses on electricity and gas, while by comparison the Auburn YMCA spends 3.5 percent, said Executive Director Dorothea Hughes.

These operating expenses include year-round cooling of the ice rink and year-round heating of the indoor pool, and Hughes conceded that the YMCA does need to be more energy efficient and is working towards that goal. “But,” Hughes added, “We don’t have very favorable electrical rates,” although she could not give the specific rate charges. “It would be huge for us to be able to operate this facility on a break-even basis.”

In fact, the cost savings to the YMCA by switching to municipal power from National Grid would about completely cover its yearly losses of $100,000 to $150,000, Wallace said.

The SRCT has been talking to the village for several months about switching to municipal power. The YMCA is entitled to use village service because it is located within village limits.

“It’s our understanding it is our right to do this,” Wallace said. “[National Grid’s] perspective is they have a very substantial customer with us and they have an agreement to provide electric service so they don’t want to lose that customer. They put in the infrastructure and invested in bringing the power. Whether they can stop us is to be determined.”

National Grid released a statement that it “has provided service to the Community Center for many years and we are aware of the matter. We strive to protect the interests of our customers and hope for a positive resolution,” said spokesperson Virginia Limmiatis.

There is a precedent for National Grid resisting such a changeover of one of its customers to municipal power, which is why the village agreed to consult with the Albany law firm of Read & Laniado, Byrne said. The firm specializes in regulatory matters concerning electrical facilities and municipalities.

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