Pin It
Empire State Data Hub

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) approved a 10 megawatt hydropower allotment Tuesday to the Somerset Operating Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Heorot Power Holdings, which also owns Cayuga Operating Company.  Heorot Power has applied for allotments for both the Somerset and Cayuga power plant sites, to convert those businesses to the Empire State Data Center, cloud data centers at both locations.  While the allotment is only 10% of what Somerset asked for, company officials see it as an encouraging first step for eventually procuring additional allotments.

"The Empire State Data Hub project was designed to lead New York’s transition to a better energy future by leveraging the skilled, local workforce in Niagara County and valuable existing infrastructure at the site to enable a large, power-intensive data center with onsite solar," said Heorot Power Holdings Managing Director Michael Enright. "We believe NYPA’s 10 MW award of hydropower is a positive first step for the Data Hub project to become viable. We look forward to continuing to work with the Cuomo Administration and NYPA in the days ahead to procure additional energy to support the creation of new jobs and make the project a vital component of the state’s burgeoning green economy.”

Company officials say that the Cayuga application is a separate process, and they are reasonably confident that Cayuga will also at least initially get some of the 25 megawatt allotment they requested.  That allotment is under consideration and likely to be ruled on in late summer or early fall. 

Heorot plans a 100 megawatt data center in Lansing, and a 500 megawatt data center in Somerset, about 55 miles west of Rochester.  the 1,800 acre Somerset facility and 434 acre Lansing facilities will both have new data center buildings. In an informational meeting in Lansing at the end of June Heorot Power Vice President of Development Jerry Goodenough said that the Cayuga Power Plant building will not be used for the data center, which will be housed in new Morton-style buildings on the property.  But he said the power plant building will not be demolished either.  Instead, it will be re-purposed for other uses, such as rental office space.  He said the chimney will be capped, and as part of shutting down the plant the landfill will be sealed.

At the June informational meeting Goodenough said their two plant sites are ideal campuses for data centers because they already have energy infrastructures, are located in a moderate climate, and skilled local workers are available, as well as connections to institutions of higher learning.  The company expects to invest $650 million into the two sites, and generate 200 full time equivalent jobs with average salaries between $40,000 and $60,000, as well asabout 100 construction jobs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on May 9th that all remaining coal plants in New York State would be forced to shut down by the end of 2020.  In addition to introducing its plans for the Empire State Data Center Heorot announced soon after that  it would close its plants, the only two remaining coal-fired plants in New York State.  On June 28 the Lansing plant filed a deactivation notice with the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) on Friday,  announcing its intentions to retire the plant within the following 90 days.

Community support for the transformation from a coal-based power plant to a cloud data center has been strong. Lansing Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne has been a strong supporter of the plan that will bring back some of the tax revenue that has been lost over the past decade as the power plant's value plummeted.

"The fact that the Somerset plant was granted ten megawatts is very encouraging. I recommend people continue with their letter campaign and petitions," said Lansing Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne. "I want to give a shout out to Diane Beckwith and Sue Ruoff for taking the lead on rallying the community to support the data center project."They should be highly commended for this. They are the driving force that is working with businesses to have positive results."


In addition to municipal resolutions supporting the project by the Town of Lansing and the Tompkins County Legislature, local citizens have also organized to support the project.  Ruoff and Beckwith and a group calling itself 'Concerned Citizens of Lansing' has set up a table in the foyer at Lansing Market with a petition supporting the Cayuga data center project, as well as pre-printed postcards -- that urge the Governer to suppoort the creation data center that only need a signature, address and a stamp -- that may be sent directly to Governor Cuomo.

Pin It