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Cayuga Power Plant

The Lansing Town Board unanimously created a Lansing Advisory Committee on Power Plant Future and appointed eight initial members with terms that expire at the end of 2022.  At the October meeting a group led by Sue Ruoff, Diane Beckwith and Lauren Chambliss asked the Board to pass a resolution creating the committee, and submitted a list of potential members.  They said that many Lansing citizens want to show their support for the transitioning of the Cayuga Power Plant to a data center, arguing that a town committee would provide an official conduit for showing and providing support.  At the meeting last week Beckwith encouraged the Board to pass the resolution.

"I want to express my gratitude to this board for their support in getting the advisory committee for power plant future on this agenda tonight," she said. "I appreciate your recognition of the importance of community input and shared information. And I think this committee can be very helpful in making sure the community is well formed and possibly rallying support for any developments that are in the best interest of our town."

The Cayuga Operating Company (COC)  officially stopped producing electricity with the coal-fueled plant last month.  In pursuit of the data center plan the company requested 25MW of hydropower alottment from the New York Power Authority (NYPA), but in October was only allotted 2MW.  While this was not enough to begin work on the data center, it represented 8% of the power granted in that round of allotments, and officially made COC a NYPA customer.  Company officials considered it a promising first step toward creating what they hope will eventually be a more than 100MW data center facility.

The committee is structured to include experts on water/lake quality, energy, renewable energy, public health and public safety, the Lansing school district, communication, and Lansing businesses and residents.  The resolution defines the committee as having eight to 13 members plus a non-voting Town Board liaison, andsays the committee will meet every other month as needed.

The Board appointed Cayuga Lake Watershed Network Steward/Executive Director Hilary Lambert; Distributed Solar Development, LLC Chief Operating Officer Robert Jetty; Tomnpkins COunty Health Department medical Director Dr. William Klepack; Licensed professional engineer and Lansing resident Robert Bland; Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne; Rogues Harbor Inn owner Eileen Stout; Cornell Department of Communication Senior Lecturer Lauren Chambliss; and volunteer/Concerned Citizens of Lansing leader Sue Ruoff.  The majority are also Lansing residents.

Board members voted to allot up to $1,000 to support the committee's communications and public outreach as approved by the Town Board, and will receive support from the Lansing Planning Department.

The plan has received much support from Tompkins County and the Town of Lansing.  As much as protesters outside of Lansing (and some inside) wanted the coal-fired power plant shut down, nearly everyone supports the data center idea, which would be powered by hydropower as well as solar solar power produced on the COC property on the northwest Lansing lakefront site.

At a public information meeting in June Heorot Power Vice President of Development Jerry Goodenough explained that the project would need tangible state support in the form of the clean energy allotment and a grant from Empire State Development.

"The data center is dependent on state support," Goodenough said. "We're looking for a NYPA (New York Power Authority) allocation, and we're looking for Empire State Development funding. We qualify for all the pieces we need to qualify for it. We're working hard to try to get their attention so they will throw their support at these two projects. When communities show support for these, that helps them make their decision."

Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD) President Heather McDaniel said last Friday that TCAD is working with COC to encourage state officials to allot the grants and renewable power allotment needed for the redevelopment project.  If the full project is realized The Cayuga Data Center will receive a $100 million capital investment, generate 30 to 40 full time equivalent $40,000 to $60,000 jobs, and a 20 megawatt solar farm on 110 acres of company land.

"If we're able to make that project happen, that would be the largest single industrial development in the history of Tompkins County," she said.

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