FORT DRUM — Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand is working to try and persuade the state legislature and Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul to include biomass as renewable energy, thus allowing the ReEnergy Black River biomass power facility, which supplies all of Fort Drum’s electricity, to remain open.
ReEnergy is scheduled to close at the end of March, and Fort Drum is expected to return to purchasing electricity from the regional electricity grid.
“If the lawmakers don’t pass legislation to keep the biomass plant open, Fort Drum will lose its only energy source,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “Fort Drum has to be energy-independent.”
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.
ReEnergy had submitted a petition in July to the state Public Service Commission requesting a program be established that would allow 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 its environmental attributes once its contract with the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority expired.
The contract with NYSERDA to sell renewable energy resources ends in May.
ReEnergy stated previously that it needed a favorable action by the commission on the petition by the end of January to avoid shutting down, which the company did not receive.
Sen. Gillibrand said that Gov. Hochul and state lawmakers are not aware how important the situation at Fort Drum is.
“They just made a judgment on biomass, that it didn’t work. But biomass can be done,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “This is a national security issue, and I will push New York’s legislature to see if they can revisit it.”
The plant supports over 300 direct and indirect jobs in the north country and Central New York.
ReEnergy said in a news release in January that it will continue to operate until the end of March, as long as it can operate safely and economically.
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