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ReEnergy Lyonsdale seeking energy credit renewal to stay financially viable

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LYONS FALLS — Officials at the ReEnergy Lyonsdale wood-chip cogeneration plant are seeking renewal of state energy credits, saying they are needed to keep the plant operational in coming years.

“The facility needs to be able to sell renewable energy credits to be financially viable,” said Sarah M. Boggess, director of communications and governmental affairs at ReEnergy Holdings, Latham.

The 22-megawatt plant at 3823 Marmon Road has a seven-year contract to sell such credits to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, but that deal expires at the end of this year.

ReEnergy has petitioned the state Public Service Commission to extend the contract for three more years, essentially moving it to the maximum contract length of 10 years. The company also is requesting the flexibility to move to another NYSERDA program if deemed advantageous and to approve a longer extension if the Public Service Commission were to remove the 10-year limit.

“The Lyonsdale biomass facility is important to the region,” facility manager D. Bruce Proven wrote in a two-page letter sent to the PSC. “It generates important economic and environmental benefits and also contributes as an integral part of a diverse renewable energy portfolio in New York State and the North Country region.”

The plant, which opened in 1992 and was purchased by ReEnergy in 2011, employs 22 people with a payroll of about $2 million annually and supports more than 100 direct and indirect jobs. The plant supports area loggers by spending $6.6 million annually on fuel, “providing a year-round market for their low-valued wood products,” Mr. Proven wrote.

The facility manager also indicated his mill has a strong record of safety and environmental compliance, provides steam to the neighboring Burrows paper mill and ash waste to local farmers, offers a lease-to-own program for loggers looking to purchase state-of-the-art chippers and, over the past few years, has invested millions of dollars to improve efficiency and performance, resulting in record production levels in 2012 and 2013.

“I am very proud of the ReEnergy Lyonsdale facility and all that we have accomplished here in Lewis County,” Mr. Proven wrote. “I know I join many others in my fierce hope that the facility will continue to operate for years to come.”

Ms. Boggess said the situation is making people at the mill and in the community a little anxious, but company officials are grateful for the local response in support of the plant.

“This is a great community, and we really appreciate the outpouring of support,” she said.

People interested may submit written comments on the ReEnergy request through July 25. Statements may be sent by mail to Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany N.Y. 12223-1350, or by email to secretary@dps.ny.gov. The telephone number is 1-518-474-6530.

Ms. Boggess said the renewal issue does not affect the company’s 60-megawatt wood-chip plant on Fort Drum, since that plant was competitively awarded a contract before its opening last year.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard is intended to increase the amount of electricity sold to consumers in the state that is generated from renewable resources.

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