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Northern Power & Light adds Potsdam dam as electricity source

From left, Boralex Hydro Operations Manager Erik Bergman, Emmett Smith of Northern Power & Light, and Facility Operator Gary McCormick talk in the powerhouse at the Sissonville hydroelectric dam facility in Potsdam. McCormick, of Russell, has run the Sissonville facility since 1996. (Provided photo — Chris Lenney)

POTSDAM — Northern Power & Light Inc., the Saranac Lake-based power company, has added the Sissonville hydroelectric facility to its portfolio of renewable electricity producers.

The Sissonville hydro dam, located on the Raquette River and 1.5 miles downstream from the Potsdam municipal hydro facility, was originally developed in the 1890s to grind pulp for the Raquette River Paper Company. The dam has produced electricity since 1986. It is owned and operated by the South Glens Falls-based Boralex Hydro Operations.

Northern Power & Light works with independent, small, renewable electricity producers, such as hydro and solar, to offer clean local electricity directly to retail customers. About 200 homes and several local businesses, including Paul Smith’s College and the Potsdam Co-op, signed up for energy from the company’s first generator, the Azure Mountain Power dam in St. Regis Falls. Azure Mountain Power is owned by the family of Northern Power & Light founder and CEO Emmett Smith, who lives in Saranac Lake.

“We had maxed out our subscription for Azure and needed more power to continue offering a clean local electricity option to new customers,” Smith said in a statement. The partnership with Boralex had been in the works for some time but was delayed by the pandemic, he added.

Northern Power & Light uses a state program called Community Distributed Generation, which allows customers to purchase their electricity directly from local producers. Electricity from the Sissonville facility is available to any customer who pays a National Grid electric bill.

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