By Susan Tuz

Balancing the books in the coming fiscal year will come a bit easier than had been expected for the Candlewood Lake Authority.

GDF Suez, the parent company of FirstLight Power Resources, the lake owner, announced June 3 it will restore its full $50,000 contribution to the Candlewood Lake Authority for 2015-16 on top of the grants already awarded the CLA.

"FirstLight takes its role in the community as a responsible corporate neighbor seriously," said Leonard Greene, GDF Suez spokesman.

"We have historically supported the Candlewood Lake Authority with substantial annual financial contributions," Greene said "and have decided to maintain the same level of support we provided last year."

Some $23,254 in grants have already been awarded to the CLA by FirstLight through its Housatonic River Project Fund for hazard buoys, marine patrol radios and the annual lake cleanup.

In May, FirstLight had said it would award another grant through the Housatonic River Project Fund to bring the total amount awarded the CLA to $50,000.

The June 3 news reflects a change of plans by the hydro-generation company that owns Candlewood Lake.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy has worked to see this outcome.

"A few months ago, I heard that FirstLight Power Resources planned to slash its agreed upon contribution to the Candlewood Lake Authority by 80 percent," Murphy said. "Frankly, I was baffled FirstLight would so drastically shortchange Candlewood Lake, its caretakers and local residents."

"(This) announcement is fantastic news," Murphy added. "I’m glad FirstLight listened to my concerns and the concerns of the local community and I won’t rest until FirstLight, the Candlewood Lake Authority and the communities reach a permanent funding

solution."

The five municipalities bordering Candlewood Lake are Brookfield, New Milford, New Fairfield, Sherman and Danbury.

The chief executives of these towns had also appealed to FirstLight to restore full funding.

Mayor Pat Murphy of New Milford said FirstLight’s announcement is "excellent news."

"This is great, when combined with the grants and match the CLA received for the new communications system from FirstLight," the mayor said. "We’re all working together to maintain the health of the lake."

Phyllis Schaer, the CLA chairwoman, said June 3 she is glad all parties are talking.

"I’m glad we’re talking and working things out," Schaer said. "I think it will be fruitful for the lake and the communities. I’m very happy to work with FirstLight. I’m developing areas where we can work together."

Grants awarded by FirstLight for 2015 through its newly formed Housatonic River Project Fund have gone to the Housatonic Valley Association; Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police; Lake Lillinonah Authority; Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition; and the Candlewood Lake Authority.

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352