Ogdensburg project shows biomass potential in upstate NY

By Matt Soberg | September 12, 2011

Government leaders are promoting the potential for the biomass industry in upstate New York by supporting a proposed cogeneration facility in Ogdensburg. New York State Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, and Ogdensburg city manager Arthur Sciorra met in early September with representatives from Alliance Energy and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, the owners and developers of the project, to discuss advancement possibilities. 

The proposal includes converting the existing Alliance Energy plant to utilize local woody biomass. The plant currently provides energy for the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Facility and Ogdensburg Correctional Facility, and also has the ability to provide electricity to local utilities. 

With ample supplies of woody biomass, upstate New York is an excellent place to utilize a biomass-fueled plant, Sciorras said.

The facility will require nearly $50 million in private funding and could generate 50 job on-site and 150 to 200 indirect jobs to fuel the local economy. The start-up will contemplate a 25-megawatt (MW) facility with licensure allowing for up to 90 MW of capacity.

Stumbling blocks for the project have included obtaining the appropriate licensure from the state along with negotiating contract extensions with existing consumers. Along with attaining permits, the developers are in the process of exploring the electricity market in search of power purchase agreements for sale of the bioenergy. If these barriers are overcome, the project could be finalized within 18 to 24 months, according to Sciorra.

“The benefits include significant investment within Ogdensburg, an increase of local capital wealth and the prospective tax base,” Sciorra said. 

While discussing the potential of biomass regionally and mentioning the Ogdensburg project specifically, Ritchie stated in a press release that the development of biomass energy could create approximately 140,000 jobs across upstate New York. Ritchie was part of the Commission on Rural Resources hearing that met with biomass advocates to discuss biomass-specific initiatives.

“If New York wants to create more private sector jobs and investment, we need to capitalize on the rural resources we already have available on our farms and commercial forests,” Ritchie said. “We need to stop talking about the benefits of ‘green energy’ and start looking at the resources in our own backyards.”