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It takes a lot of electricity to make apple cider and bottled water, so even a 6 percent reduction on their power bill through the state's ReCharge New York program helps Mayer Bros. save thousands of dollars each month.
Garrett A. Mayer, the West Seneca company's treasurer and general manager, said the savings from the lower-cost electricity that Mayer Bros. receives through the program is about $5,000 a month.
Just as important, the new program, which was launched earlier this year, offers recipients seven-year contracts, which Mayer and other officials said is a big improvement over the year-to-year allocations from the Power for Jobs program that it replaced because it makes it easier to do long-term planning.
"It's a good direction they've gone in," Mayer said Thursday during a news conference at the company's cider mill and store off Transit Road in West Seneca to highlight the ReCharge program. Mayer Bros. gets about 6 percent of the electricity that it uses at its facilities in West Seneca and Barker through ReCharge New York.
In all, the program, which took effect in July after the Power for Jobs program expired, provides reduced-cost electricity to 83 businesses in Western New York and more than 675 companies and nonprofit organizations statewide.
"It's a critically important economic-development tool," said John R. Koelmel, the local banker who is chairman of the New York Power Authority, which administers ReCharge New York.
The power from the ReCharge program goes to companies and organizations that employ more than 25,000 people in Western New York and more than 400,000 across the state, said Koelmel, president and CEO of First Niagara Financial Group.
So far, the Power Authority has approved two sets of allocations through the ReCharge program, Koelmel said, and he expects the agency's board to review and vote on a third group of allocations Sept. 24.
The program combines the 455 megawatts of electricity previously used by Power for Jobs with another 455 megawatts that now is used to cut residential upstate electric bills by $2 to $4 a month.
State and business officials, including the Business Council of New York State and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, had long argued that using the residential power for economic development would have a bigger impact on the state's economy.
Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development Corp., said the lower-cost electricity helps "level the playing field" for New York companies.
State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, D-Buffalo, said the most important change in the program is its seven-year contracts, which allow recipients to better project their electricity costs in their budgeting process and make it easier to plan investments.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com