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ReEnergy officials tout Lyonsdale plant to local leaders

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LYONS FALLS — Representatives of a Lyonsdale wood-chip-burning cogeneration plant met Thursday with local officials to discuss improvements and potential of the facility.

“We like to be good corporate citizens in communities where we own businesses,” Stephen G. Hall, director of industry and government affairs at ReEnergy Holdings LLC, Latham, said after hosting several area leaders at the facility.

Part of the company’s corporate strategy is to make connections with governmental leaders in case their support may be needed in the future, Mr. Hall said.

The event also allowed many of the officials to meet plant manager Anthony J. Marciniak, who came here from the company’s 20-megawatt Chateaugay plant earlier this year.

ReEnergy in 2011 bought the 22-megawatt plant at 3823 Marmon Road from Central Hudson Enterprises Corp., a subsidiary of CH Energy Group Inc., Poughkeepsie.

Over the past year, the company has invested in significant capital improvements to improve operations and efficiency at the facility, which opened in 1992, Mr. Hall said.

“You have to put the money into it to get the reliability,” he said.

While unsure of exactly how much money has been invested in the Lyonsdale plant, Mr. Marciniak said it was “substantial” and included upgrades to the electrical system, boilers, motors and fuel-handling system.

Because of the improvements, the plant has been able to lessen unscheduled shutdowns and is operational more than 90 percent of the available time, a much better percentage than in prior years, Mr. Marciniak said.

“The plant’s all-time production rates have come over the past year,” Mr. Hall said.

The Lyonsdale plant employs 24 people and purchases about 220,000 tons of wood chips annually from more than 100 loggers.

ReEnergy officials said plans to convert a former coal-burning facility on Fort Drum to a 60-megawatt wood-chip plant remain on schedule for an opening sometime in the first quarter of 2013.

The $34 million conversion project was selected competitively by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to sell renewable energy credits to NYSERDA under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.

“Everything is going well there,” Mr. Hall said. “We’re very happy with the results.”

The Fort Drum plant, when operational, is expected to take in a similar volume of wood to the combined amount used at now-shuttered paper-making plants in Lyons Falls and Deferiet, according to John R. Howe, ReEnergy’s north country wood procurement manager.

That plant opening will give loggers another optional destination for their wood chips and will likely lead to shorter delivery times for some, he said.

The three Northern New York cogeneration plants are expected to utilize roughly 1 million tons of wood chips each year, Mr. Howe said.

ReEnergy officials said several loggers have purchased new wood chippers through a program, introduced by the company over the summer, in which they pay for the equipment over the course of a five-year commitment to sell biomass to ReEnergy.

A number of north country landowners have signed up for a federally subsidized program intended to boost willow production in the region, company officials said.

ReEnergy has agreed to purchase all willow crops grown in the program over an 11-year period at a fixed price per ton.

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