Justices: District must pay dam operator

The Hudson River-Black River Regulating District may have to pay back around $500,000 to a downstream hydroelectric dam operator after courts said the district had overcharged them for benefits.

According to a decision made Oct. 17, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ordered HRBRRD to pay back excessive fees to Albany Engineering, which maintains a hydroelectric dam on the Hudson.

Justices decided the district owed Albany Engineering the bulk of the money determined by a lower court in April 2012.

The original order was amended so that the lower court will determine the actual amount of “headwater benefits” – the amount a hydroelectric company owes an upstream dam owner – Albany Engineering receives.

Michael Clark, executive director with the district, said he is not sure when the district and Albany Engineering would be brought back into court to discuss the exact payment.

“We will play it by ear,” Clark said. “We are prepared to deal with it.”

A November 2009 U.S. Court of Appeals decision said the regulating district was overcharging Albany Engineering, a company the district had determined was receiving headwater benefits from the upstream Conklingville Dam, for the benefits it was receiving from district’s operation of the dam.

Clark said in 2002, the district got a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a major reservoir and dam on the Hudson.

However, a lawsuit claimed the assessments imposed violated the Federal Power Act. Clark said, ultimately, this let Albany Engineering seek a refund from the district from 2002 to 2008.