Biomass plant that powers Ft. Drum will close

The ReEnergy Black River plant is located at Fort Drum. (Provided photo — Watertown Daily Times)

FORT DRUM — ReEnergy Black River biomass power facility, which is responsible for supplying all of Fort Drum’s electricity, is proceeding to close in March, according to a statement Friday from the company.

Previously ReEnergy had submitted a petition in July to the state Public Service Commission where it requested that a program be established that would allow for the facility to be financially viable.

The petition had asked for the commission to establish a program that would allow for the facility to be compensated for their environmental attributes once their contract with New York State Energy and Research Development Authority expired.

After the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act was passed in 2019, bioenergy was not included in renewable energy resources, which had previously not been the case in years prior.

The facility has a contract with NYSERDA in order to sell renewable energy certificates, which ends in May. ReEnergy states that the project would have to replace the lost revenue in order to continue to be financially viable.

“Although we enjoy strong local support, including our local state legislators, we were unable to secure the support we needed from the State Legislature or Public Service Commission,” said ReEnergy Chief Executive Officer Larry Richardson in a news release.

The release states that ReEnergy needed a favorable action by the commission on their petition by the end of January to avoid shutting down. Friday was the last session of the commission by the end of the month.

The plant currently supports more than 300 direct and indirect jobs in the north country and Central New York.

“This will be a blow not only to our employees, but also to the many logging companies and mills that rely on the facility as an end-market for their low-value wood that has no other use,” Mr. Richardson said in the release.

The facility will continue to operate until the end of March, as long as it can operate safely and economically, the release stated.

During most of the month of April, employees will be performing layup activities so the facility is properly mothballed, and after that, the facility’s bondholders will determine the future of the facility.

ReEnergy said in their news release that Fort Drum is expected to return to purchasing electricity from the regional electricity grid.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today