TORREY — It isn’t producing any electricity yet, but the Greenidge Generation power plant was officially reopened Tuesday.
Built in 1937, it has been dormant since 2011.
A host of federal, state and local officials helped throw a ceremonial switch that illuminated two spotlights, rather than the usual ribbon-cutting.
Work on construction of a 4.6-mile long pipeline from the plant, on the west shore of Seneca Lake, to the Empire Gas Pipeline in the town of Milo is expected to begin this week.
Once the pipeline is completed and natural gas is flowing to the plant, it will join with biomass material to power the plant’s electrical turbines.
The plant has not produced electricity since it was coal-fired.
“This is a great day after a long wait. We’re happy to be here more than two years after this project started,” said Dale Irwin, plant manager.
“We believed in this plant, the people and the area,” Irwin said. The plant reopens as a natural gas and biomass fueled plant, sponsored by Atlas Holdings and Greenidge Generation LLC.
“It took longer than we expected to get the permits, but we will be operating again. We kept our commitment. We should be in full operation in the first quarter of 2017,” Irwin said.
He praised the teamwork of federal, state and local officials in pushing the project. Irwin said the permits call for the toughest emission standards in the industry.
“The plant will do right by the environment. It will generate considerable property tax revenue, stimulate the local economy with purchases of goods and services, create 60 to 100 new jobs and help the country be energy independent,” Irwin said.
Congressman Tom Reed, R-23, of Corning said the project is a $25 million investment that will create jobs and tax revenue for local governments and represents a “job well done.”
State Assemblyman Philip Palmesano, R-132, of Corning, called it a “great day for Yates County,” recalling the “punch to the gut” the community received when the plant closed.
“The team persevered, had faith in the project and were determined not to mothball this plant. It will produce clean energy and be a win-win for everyone,” Palmesano said.
Tim Dennis, chairman of the Yates County Legislature, praised Atlas and Greenidge for being “tenacious” and not giving up on the project, despite a lot of hurdles. He also praised the Yates County Industrial Development Agency for its support of the project.
“When I ran for the legislature, my top priority was getting this plant going again,” said Jim Smith, District 2 legislator.
“It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to see this day. It was a tremendous team effort,” Smith said.
Others praising the reopening were Skip Jensen, president of the Yates County Farm Bureau, and Patrick Flynn, Torrey town supervisor.
About a dozen protesters showed up at the entrance to the plant.