NYPA plans public hearing on allocation of hydropower

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MASSENA — The New York Power Authority will hold a public hearing on Friday to take comments on the sale of low-cost hydropower to a company that plans to develop a network of advanced technology greenhouses in Massena.

The public hearing regarding Confluent Energies, Inc. will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Frank S. McCullough Jr. Hawkins Point Visitors Center in Massena.

During their September meeting, the Power Authority’s Board of Trustees had approved 16 megawatts of low-cost hydropower for Confluent Energies, Inc., which had requested 24,000 kilowatts. The Massachusetts-based firm plans to create at least 240 new jobs with average wage and benefits of $66,900, as well as make $110 million in capital investments.

Although the company has been approved for the power allocation, Friday’s public hearing is a procedural part of the process for awarding New York Power Authority contracts.

Confluent Energies, Inc. is proposing to build a hydroponic greenhouse facility on 40 acres of property. The company plans to use four 10-acre plots for the project.

The four-phase project would allow the company to produce leafy green vegetables, particularly lettuce, on a year-round basis. The product will be delivered by Confluence Energies, Inc.’s partner distributor to a market area located within a 24-hour driving radius of Massena to ensure product quality. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in 2020.

According to the company’s website, Confluent Energies, Inc. is principally focused on “developing and operating Advanced Technology Greenhouses (“ATG”) as the centerpiece of Phase III biorefineries.” Depending on the location, the energy to power and operate the biorefineries can come from several clean, renewable, recyclable sources such as cellulosic biomass, wind, solar, hydro, landfill gases.”

Energy sources will typically be blended to provide needed redundancy, lower costs, and to assure reliability for continuous 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operations.

The project was a direct outcome of NYPA’s St. Lawrence County economic development study that was launched a few years ago. One of the initiatives was to identify and attract investors to construct commercial-scale greenhouse facilities capable of year-round operations.

NYPA’s hydropower allocations from the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project are provided under 10-year contracts to support business growth for businesses in Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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