Village, SRCT approved for low-cost hydropower grant for YMCA

Benefits don’t kick in, however, until Y released from National Grid contract

— The New York Power Authority has approved a grant request to increase the Skaneateles village municipal electric output in order to help power the Skaneateles YMCA and its planned $4.9 million expansion. The problem, however, is that the grant is contingent upon the YMCA’s switch from National Grid to Skaneateles Electric Light as its power supplier — a switch National Grid has been blocking for nearly one year.

The grant, approved by the NYPA board of trustees in late June, would extend an additional 100 kw of hydropower to the Skaneateles municipal electric system, or one-quarter of additional load to the village as created by the YMCA with the expansion.

“This past week we were informed our [grant] request had been granted, but this only helps if we can find a way to get the power to [the YMCA],” said Skaneateles Village Attorney Michael J. Byrne, referring to the stalemate between the YMCA and National Grid. “It was a big step this week, but not the breakthrough we need.”

Village officials have been working since last year with the Skaneateles Recreation Charitable Trust to get the YMCA onto village municipal power, and the grant application was part of the ongoing process, Byrne said.

The SRCT, which owns the Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center facility, began speaking to village officials in late 2011 about switching over to municipal power from National Grid. The switch would be a “substantial change to the cost of electricity to the recreation center,” said SRCT President Charlie Wallace, who preferred not to give specific cost and savings numbers due to their mutability.

According to a NYPA press release, the grant was awarded to assist the SRCT in its planned 42,468 square-foot expansion that would include a second ice rink, new basketball courts, expanded fitness areas and additional community rooms. The expansion would necessitate an additional 416 kw of electricity to the YMCA’s current load.

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