MASSENA — The New York Power Authority’s Board of Trustees has approved 16 megawatts of low-cost hydropower for a company that plans to set up in Massena and create up to 240 jobs and make $110 million in capital investments.
Will greenhouses and newer industry replace lost manufacturing jobs in St. Lawrence County?
Confluent Energies, Inc., a Massachusetts-based firm, is developing a network of advanced technology greenhouses in Massena.
Keith Hayes, senior vice president of NYPA’s Clean Energy Solutions, told trustees during their meeting on Wednesday that the company was proposing to build a hydroponic greenhouse facility on 40 acres of property in Massena. The 40-acre parcel of property owned by Arconic is located at the intersection of Dennison Road and County Route 42.
“The company is planning a four-phase project that would allow them to produce leafy green vegetables, particularly lettuce, on a year-round basis. The allocation would support the creation of at least 240 new jobs and a capital investment commitment of at least $110 million,” Mr. Hayes said.
The product will be delivered by Confluent Energies’ partner distributor to a market area located within a 24-hour driving radius of Massena to ensure product quality.
The first phase is scheduled to begin in 2020.
According to the company’s website, Confluent Energies, Inc. is principally focused on “developing and operating Advanced Technology GreenhousesTM (“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 gasses.”
Energy sources will typically be blended to provide needed redundancy, lower costs, and to assure reliability for continuous 24-hour seven-day week operations.
Mr. Hayes said the project was a direct outcome of their St. Lawrence County economic development study that was launched a few years ago.
“The project represents one of our signature initiatives detailed in the plan that sets out to accelerate agriculture, more specifically, to identify and attract investors to construct commercial-scale greenhouse facilities capable of year-round operations,” he said. Eugene L. Nicandri, NYPA vice chairman and Massena resident, said he was pleased with the company’s decision to set up its operation in Massena.
“Confluent Energies decision to develop its operation in Massena and create 240 jobs is great news for the North Country. The Power Authority’s hydropower is an invaluable resource for the region’s economic development,” he said in a statement.
NYPA’s hydropower allocations from the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project are provided under ten-year contracts to support business growth for businesses in Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.
During their meeting on Wednesday, NYPA trustees also approved a ReCharge New York power allocation of 140 kilowatts for Otis Products, Inc., Lyons Falls. With the allocation, the company will retain 121 jobs, create 11 jobs and make a capital investment of $250,000.
ReCharge NY offers up to seven-year power contracts. Half of the power — 455 megawatts — is from NYPA’s Niagara and St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt hydroelectric power plants. The remaining 455 megawatts is lower-cost power bought by NYPA on the wholesale market.