NYPA allocates power for Potsdam, Gouverneur plants in another boost for St. Lawrence County

On the same day the north country learned 40 jobs will be created in a $21 million expansion of Corning’s Canton plant, St. Lawrence County received another economic shot in the arm when the New York Power Authority approved low-cost power allocations for two more manufacturers that will keep or add jobs with capital investments.

The allocations will go to Potsdam Specialty Paper and Riverside Iron, Gouverneur, under the ReCharge NY program, NYPA announced Tuesday. The low-cost power is expected to leverage an estimated $14.3 million in capital investments and support 79 jobs, 12 of which will be created.

“I think anytime we see power allocation in the county is a good thing, and to have three different areas, with Corning in the Canton area, Potsdam Paper and Riverside Iron in Gouverneur, is crucial,” said Patrick J. Kelly, CEO of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. “These are also three different areas that are receiving this allocation. It is very beneficial to their operations and in turn a good thing for the county.”

Potsdam Specialty Paper, 547 Sissonville Road, will receive 2,116 kilowatts for its commitment to retain its 67 jobs and invest $14 million into its facility over the next five years.

The company manufactures specialty paper that is used in the construction, automotive, home decor and medical industries.

“This power allocation will allow our company to continue its operations in Potsdam, securing our talented workforce and reinforcing our position as a pillar of the local economy for years to come,” Douglass H. Drumm, operations manager of Potsdam Specialty Paper, said in the news release.

Riverside Iron, 26 Water St., Gouverneur, will receive 46 kilowatts to assist in reopening its steel fabrication facility, creating 12 jobs with a $350,000 capital investment.

“I am thankful to NYPA and the St. Lawrence County IDA for their efforts to help ensure the success of Riverside Iron’s fabrication facility reopening in Gouverneur,” Eric Tessmer, president of Riverside Iron, said in the news release. “I look forward to providing long-term local job opportunities and re-establishing Riverside as a source of quality miscellaneous metal fabrications.”

The manufacturer of miscellaneous and ornamental steel reopened this month after closing in 2012. The company recently was approved for $200,000 in financing from the St. Lawrence County IDA through loan funds supported by NYPA capital.

“As Riverside Iron looks to reopen its facility, obviously having the lower electric rates will lower his costs and enable them to be more competitive in the restart operations,” Mr. Kelly said.

Recharge NY application criteria include addition of jobs, capital investments, the significance of the cost of electricity to the overall cost of doing business, the applicant’s risk of closure or curtailing operations, the significance of the applicant’s facility to the local economy and its commitment to energy efficiency.

“It is of principal importance for economic development efforts to not only create new jobs, but also ensure the retention of existing jobs,” Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer, said in the news release. “The governor’s ReCharge NY program has been a great success thus far in the north country, and NYPA will continue to work with business and not-for-profit organizations in the region to keep up this significant momentum.”

Recharge NY offers up to seven-year power contracts. Half of the power under the program — 455 megawatts — is from NYPA’s Niagara and St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt hydroelectric power plants, which provide some of the lowest-cost electricity in the state. The remaining 455 MW is economic power secured by NYPA from wholesale market sources, according to the news release.

NYPA, under state law, also provides allocations of low-cost hydropower to Northern New York businesses from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project as part of the Power Authority’s Preservation Power program. The power is provided at a price that is currently 40 percent less than wholesale market electricity in the region. Preservation Power allocations currently support hundreds of jobs in St. Lawrence County.

“As a lifelong resident of the north country, I am pleased to see the great success of the Governor’s ReCharge NY program in our region,” Eugene L. Nicandri, a NYPA trustee said, in a news release from NYPA. “These low-cost power allocations will provide Potsdam Specialty Paper and Riverside Iron greater financial flexibility for their competitive operations.”

Hiring already has started at Corning’s Canton plant after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday that a $21 million expansion project is creating 40 permanent jobs with the help of a low-cost power allocation from NYPA.

The Canton plant, which produces specialized glass products for the telecommunications industry, the U.S. Department of Defense and the aerospace industry, plans to add 23,500 square feet to increase production of high-fused silica glass used by the semiconductor industry. A 7,200-square-foot warehouse is also in the works.

The firm was allocated 2.1 megawatts by NYPA on Tuesday in support of its expansion efforts.

“It is anticipated that this expansion could lead to 40 permanent jobs, some of which are already in place,” Corning spokesman Joseph Dunning said. “They will come in the form of factory jobs and those with a mix of skill sets, from engineers to office workers.”

Mr. Dunning said 70 construction jobs also will be created during the expansion.

Work on the expansion project began in June, and officials hope to have it completed in the fall, Mr. Dunning said Tuesday.

On Tuesday, state and local officials touted the state’s commitment to help a struggling Northern New York.

“I’m pleased that Corning has committed to growing its St. Lawrence County operations. Its $21 million capital improvement will positively impact our local construction-related businesses, and its commitment to create 40 additional jobs will provide a new economic benefit to those workers, their families and the Canton region,” state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, said in a news release.

“It is fantastic that such a well-established business in the north country is primed to expand and that Preservation Power is being utilized to create much needed jobs,” Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said in a news release. “Corning’s cutting edge technology, its talented work force and partnership with the State and NYPA, is a winning combination. I applaud the hard work of Corning and its decision to expand in the North Country and appreciate the work done to ensure that it has the resources it needs to be successful.”

By Amanda Purcell, Johnson Newspapers