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Potsdam hopes for West Dam Plant to start up by year’s end

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POTSDAM — The turbines have begun to spin at the village’s West Dam Hydro Plant. The turbines have been tested and can spin fast enough to generate power. All that remains are the final calibrations to the control system before the plant can hook up to the power grid and begin generating 2.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 2,500 homes on average.

While he is not making any promises, Village Administrator David H. Fenton said the village wants to have everything running by the end of the year.

“We’re hoping. It’s fully assembled; we’re tweaking the control system,” he said Monday night.

The plant has been delayed many times since its original expected completion date in 2009, but Trustee Ruth F. Garner said she is still confident the dam will prove to be one of the best investments the village has made.

“It’s a good development, because it’s continuous,” she said, pointing to the village’s difficulties in expanding its tax base or finding other sources of revenue.

“We’re lucky to have this beautiful river running through our village,” she said.

The dam will be the village’s second power plant when activated. Potsdam will sell the power either directly to National Grid, or to a private buyer.

In other business Monday, the village Board of Trustees approved a change in where it will store a $200 million investment fund that is shared among 250 municipalities across the state.

The New York Cooperative Liquid Assets Securities System, or NYCLASS, allows government entities such as towns, villages, fire districts and school districts to safely invest money and receive a cut of the interest. Potsdam has been involved with the fund for about 14 years, according to Mr. Fenton, and the village recently became the lead participant for the pool.

This means that the village is responsible for handling the money. Mr. Fenton is the lead agent and custodian for the pool, a position that will not expire until 2016.

The money is stored in Bank of New York Mellon, but the village board voted unanimously Monday to sign a new agreement with Wells Fargo bank. The decision was made at the recommendation of the NYCLASS board of directors, because Wells Fargo does not charge as much in fees as Bank of New York Mellon.

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