Officials celebrate ReEnergy's Fort Drum contract

By Sen. Schumer's office | November 03, 2014

On Oct. 30 at Fort Drum, Sens. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., joined with Army officials for a signing ceremony celebrating the recent awarding of a 20-year contract, worth up to $289 million, to ReEnergy Holdings, a renewable power provider in Latham, for them to supply power to Fort Drum. Schumer and Gillibrand said that this is the Army’s largest renewable energy project and that it will help to make Fort Drum energy independent, support hundreds of jobs locally and create 170 new jobs.

Schumer discussed his role in getting this contract over the finish line, including urging Army officials for years to get this project underway and placing a personal phone call to Army Secretary John McHugh urging him to move quickly on final sign-off of the contract. Schumer also mentioned his long track record pushing for the Army to undertake renewable energy projects. Gillibrand has been a staunch advocate for renewable energy as a member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Environment and Public Works. In 2012, Gillibrand fought hard in the Armed Services Committee against efforts to limit Defense Department investments in green energy, protecting important projects like this from the chopping block.

“This contract is a win-win for Fort Drum and the North Country. It will bring jobs into the region, put Fort Drum on the path to energy independence, and make the base itself more safe and secure,” Schumer said. “I can think of no better place for the Army’s largest renewable energy project than right here at Fort Drum, and am proud to have played a role in making this project a reality. The benefits to Fort Drum and the North Country economy were too great to wait, and that is why I urged Secretary McHugh to make this happen quickly. I look forward to continuing to work with Army officials to make sure this partnership is as successful as it can be.”

“This contract is an outstanding development for Fort Drum and the North Country,” said Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “New York’s largest military base will now be completely energy independent, and it will achieve this with clean, modern, and renewable biofuel. This deal brings good jobs, green energy, and tremendously increased security to Fort Drum. I commend ReEnergy and the Army for this forward-thinking deal.”

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that ReEnergy Holdings is a biomass energy producer located in Latham, New York, that produces energy from renewable sources. Schumer and Gillibrand said that, with this major contract award, ReEnergy will now be able to produce energy from biomass for Ft. Drum in Jefferson County for the next 20 years. Schumer and Gillibrand have been longtime advocates of providing Fort Drum with renewable power, which is needed to make Ft. Drum sustainable and energy independent. ReEnergy owns and operates a former coal-fired power plant on the Fort Drum campus, which it recently converted into a biomass generation facility. Fort Drum currently provides planning and support for the mobilization and training of 30,000 troops annually, and Schumer and Gillibrand said this goal of achieving energy independence will only help Fort Drum better serve these troops. Fort Drum is the largest single site employer in New York State and its average electricity load is 20 megawatts (MW), with its peak load at 28 MW. The ReEnergy system capacity is 60 MW, which exceeds Fort Drum’s current peak load and will provide electricity to the utility grid.

Schumer has long been a supporter of this project and lobbied the Army to swiftly approve this contract, as it will inject jobs and renewable energy into the North Country economy. In February, Schumer announced that the Army had intended to award this 20-year contract to ReEnergy, but that the contract still needed final Army approval. Schumer then pushed the Army to expeditiously approve the contract, and he personally called Army Secretary John McHugh to urge him to move quickly. 

In September, Schumer announced that, after his push, the U.S. Army had signed off on and officially awarded the contract to ReEnergy. This project will now include a 20-year contract and provide the installation with 100 percent energy security and sustainability. Schumer said this project is expected to create 170 North Country jobs altogether. The contract is expected to create over 30 new jobs at the Fort Drum plant and over 140 new jobs in ReEnergy’s biomass supply chain. Schumer and Gillibrand said the contract is a win-win for a growing renewable energy producer in the North Country and for Fort Drum, which will have a reliable, low-cost and clean energy source located right next to its facilities.  The contract is expected to help Fort Drum save on energy costs and make the plant energy independent and secure. This will enable Fort Drum to maintain mission critical operations in the event of a system-wide outage. 

Schumer and Gillibrand were joined by Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment; Larry Richardson, CEO of ReEnergy; Brigadier General Michael Howard, Acting Senior Commander of Fort Drum; Richard Kidd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Energy & Sustainability; Brigadier General Mark M. McLeod, Commander of Defense Logistics Agency Energy; Davis Tindoll, Director of the Atlantic Region for U.S. Army Installation Management Command; Amanda Simpson, Executive Director of the Army Office of Energy Initiatives; and Colonel Gary A. Rosenberg, Garrison Commander of Fort Drum.

Schumer and Gillibrand noted that this is the Army's largest renewable energy project to date, and the second Army Energy Initiative Task Force project to reach this milestone. The EITF remains committed to executing large-scale renewable energy projects to achieve the Army goal of one gigawatt of renewable energy by 2025. The EITF now has eight projects in the contracts and agreements phase representing nearly 175 MW of potential capacity. According to the Army, renewable energy produced on Army installations increases energy security, enhances mission effectiveness, and provides a means to temper rising energy costs.

ReEnergy Holdings LLC owns and operates facilities that use forest-derived woody biomass and other wood waste residues to produce homegrown, renewable energy. It also owns facilities that recycle construction and demolition debris. ReEnergy operates in six states, employs more than 300 people, and owns and/or operates nine energy production facilities with the combined capacity to generate 325 megawatts of renewable energy. The company is headquartered in Latham, New York, employs approximately 80 individuals in New York State, and owns three biomass power facilities in New York. In addition to ReEnergy Black River biomass facility, other facilities include the 22-megawatt ReEnergy Lyonsdale in Lewis County and the 21-megawatt ReEnergy Chateaugay in Franklin County.