Hydro dams within the Adirondacks generate four times more electricity than in-park homes and businesses could ever consume – in fact, enough power to illuminate much of upstate New York.
But almost none of that energy has been available locally. Until now.
Green electricity produced no farther from Lake George than Warrensburg can now be purchased through Saranac Lake-based Northern Power & Light, which was established in 2019 to take advantage of a new state program called Community Distributed Generation, created by New York for the express purpose of connecting small scale renewable power producers to consumers.
“We think of our hydro power as farm-to-table power, an option for clean electricity that people can really trust,” Northern Power & Light COO Ethan Smith said at a press conference in Glens Falls on October 5. “Rivers have powered us for generations. Hydro power is the Adirondack Park’s renewable energy and we’re proud to make it available to neighbors looking to mitigate their climate impact and keep their energy dollars local.”
Smith and his Northern Power and Light co-founder (and brother) Emmett Smith were in Glens Falls to announce a public-private partnership with the City of Glens Falls and Boralex, a Canadian company that owns and operates the hydroelectric dam in Warrensburg, at the site of the former pulp mill near the confluence of the Schroon and the Hudson.
Mayor Bill Collins announced that Glens Falls has agreed to be an “anchor customer,” purchasing enough power from Northern Power and Light to run City Hall, its streetlights and the water treatment plant, among other municipal facilities.
The Charles R. Wood Theater, the Queensbury Hotel and Pure & Simple Foods are among the company’s other new customers.
“We hope other members of the community and the surrounding region sign up for shares of the Schroon River facility’s output, as well,” said Jeff Flagg, Glens Falls’ director of Economic Development.
The hydro dam on the Schroon River produces enough energy to power 3,000 homes. The City of Glens Falls will consume roughly thirty percent of that output, leaving a substantial surplus – enough electricity for an additional 300 customers.
“Now we need individual homeowners and small businesses to step up and choose to buy authentic renewable energy,” Emmett Smith said, stating that Northern Power and Light was “launching a campaign to get residents and businesses to sign up for shares of the facility’s output, based on their electricity needs.”
Prospective customers will find information about the campaign at many upcoming community events, said Smith.
“Every business in this area should opt in, not just because it’s a good thing to do, but because this is how we support each other,” said Jim Siplon, Warren County EDC president.
And it will benefit the environment and reduce the region’s carbon footprint.
By 2030, the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act mandates, renewable resources must account for 70 percent of the share of electricity consumed in the state.
“Hydro power will be 22% of that mix of renewable resources,” said Jim Siplon.
On October 12, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York State will spend $4.4 billion to strengthen the transmission infrastructure in upstate New York to support the transition to clean energy – including energy produced by hydroelectric plants.
“It’s important to have hydro power available when the wind isn’t blowing and when the sun isn’t shining. A diversity of renewable resources is an important feature in the energy marketplace,” said Emmett Smith.
For more information or to sign up for Northern Power and Light’s renewable energy, visit npandl.com or call 518-293-4075.