The biomass facility that powers Fort Drum in New York, US, is set to close early next year, reported WWNY. The unit employs over two dozen people directly, and it supports dozens of logging and trucking jobs in the north country.
ReEnergy buys wood chips from local lumber yards and sawmills, transfers them into energy, and generates 100% of Fort Drum’s power, a rarity for the US Army.
But that process isn’t considered renewable energy in New York state and the plant doesn’t qualify for certain incentives.
In an email, a company spokesperson told 7 News ReEnergy plans to terminate operations on March 31. However, the closure won’t proceed if the state’s Public Service Commission changes its mind about biomass as renewable energy before January 31.
State Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush and Senator Joe Griffo have a bill in Albany, supported by both sides of the aisle, to classify biomass as renewable and keep this plant open. But the bill isn’t receiving committee approval.
“We had as many Democrats on both sides, Senate and Assembly, and it didn’t come out. It’s another example of these clean energy people not understanding that biomass is clean energy,” said Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R. - 117th District).
Fort Drum will likely revert back to depending on National Grid for energy, but also has to follow the Army’s climate strategy, which requires carbon-free electricity for all installations by 2030.
So, even if the state changes its mind and considers this a “renewable energy plant,” the US Army may not.