ReEnergy scores PPA from Army

By Anna Simet | February 20, 2014

More than eight months after the 60-megawatt (MW) ReEnergy Black River biomass plant at Fort Drum, N.Y., began producing power, the U.S. Army has issued a Notice of Intent to award the facility a 20-year power purchase agreement.

The plant, which was originally designed to burn coal and was idled in 2010, was purchased by ReEnergy in 2011. With over $34 million in equipment and infrastructure investments, the company converted the plant to biomass, and began producing power in June.

The facility is located on the Fort Drum army installation near Watertown, N.Y., but had no relationship with the base. It was hopeful, however, that its proposal to the U.S. Department of Defense, via a competitive procurement process, would be accepted. Under the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, the DOD must draw 25 percent of its energy from renewable resources, and the Army must achieve 1 gigawatt of renewable energy by 2025.

In the meantime, the facility has been selling power to the area surrounding the post, and was selected to sell renewable energy credits to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

According to the office of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who has been a proponent of the project, the contract still needs final Army approval, but it is expected to create over 20 new jobs at the plant and over 140 new jobs in ReEnergy’s biomass supply chain.

With the PPA from ReEnergy, Fort Drum will become energy self-sufficient.

 Schumer noted that this is the Army's largest renewable energy project to date, and the second Energy Initiative Task Force project to reach this milestone. The EITF has eight projects in contract and agreements phases, representing nearly 175 MW of potential capacity.