Representatives from Kruger Energy Inc. met with Lewis County and local officials to introduce the Northbrook Lyons Falls LLC proposed redevelopment plan and to discuss the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission amendment and the permitting process for the hydroelectric plant.
Northbrook Lyons Falls LLC is a subsidiary of Kruger Energy Inc.
Daniel Parker, project manager with Kruger Energy Inc., said Northbrook Lyons Falls has a federal license for the Lyons Falls project. Three hydropower facilities on the Black and Moose rivers, the Lyons Falls Mill, Kosterville and Gouldtown, make up the project, and all three of the sites are part of the same FERC license.
The project has been in existence since 1920, when the hydro units were put in, and it was federally licensed in 1986.
In 2006, a redevelopment project was proposed to have a new powerhouse on the east side of the Black River, but there were concerns about developing that side of the river. Some residents suggested that development on the east side of the river would affect recreational, scenic and cultural resources.
Mr. Parker said the company is looking to amend the license for the mill project. This time the proposal is for the development to remain on the west side of the river at the original facility.
The capacity of the plant now is 5.8 megawatts, and the plan is for it to have a capacity of 12 to 13 megawatts, Mr. Parker said. Kruger wants to amend the license to expand the capacity.
Kruger wants to build a two-unit powerhouse within the footprint of the Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill site. However, the company is looking into the possibility of having three smaller units instead of the two larger units, because the plant then would be able to go down to a lower flow before having to shut the system down, Mr. Parker said.
He said the company is not looking to change the elevation of the river upstream, so the dam height will stay the same.
Lewis County Economic Development Director and IDA Executive Director Eric J. Virkler gave a brief overview of how the decommissioning of the Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill is a factor for the hydroelectric expansion.
The Lewis County Development Corp. has been working to secure funding to clean up the site, Mr. Virkler said. The LCDC has been working in partnership with Kruger, which put in $450,000 for the first phase and up to an additional $200,000 for other project costs that would come out of contingency. Kruger has made funding contributions to help move along the demolition so it can have access to the plant.
The demolition is focused on the top priority areas of the site to get it cleaned up so Kruger can move forward with its work, Mr. Virkler said. The intent is that Kruger will purchase land surrounding its facility so there will be room for the expansion.
Lyons Falls Mayor Catherine L. Liendecker said the community is on board with the project.
“The biggest advantage for our community is that when the mill site gets cleaned up and whatever goes in there, you could be selling (electricity) to whoever is right next door rather than getting it at a more expensive rate from National Grid,” Mrs. Liendecker said. “It is a plus for whoever comes into this area.”
The availability of cheap power could be a big draw to attract business to the site, Mr. Parker said. The site already has infrastructure with access to water, sewer services, the rail line and the natural gas line.
“You already have some attributes that are very attractive. Hopefully we can add something to make it that much better,” Mr. Parker said.
He said 37,000 megawatt hours are generated per year with the system. The expansion will add 27,000 megawatt hours, which would be able to power about 12,000 houses.
Mr. Parker said this facility could have the capability to supply Lewis County General Hospital, Lowville, and a number of commercial or retail facilities with that energy.
“Anything we can do to make our existing large businesses more economical is going to be important,” County Manager Elizabeth Swearingin said. “You know we are talking about a commerce park. That jumps to the top of my list. If we have a shovel-ready site that has an attractive power footprint to it, that’s going to be something we are very interested in.”
For the hydroelectric expansion to happen, Kruger must file an amendment with FERC.
By Whitney Randolph, Times Staff Writer