(BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) — Mayor Richard C. David today announced the City of Binghamton is advancing a hydroelectric project for Rockbottom Dam on the Susquehanna River, initiating engineering studies for construction of a generation facility to provide clean power.
“Rockbottom Dam has long been an important part of our City’s water infrastructure,” said Mayor David. “For decades, people have talked about the concept of hydropower at Rockbottom Dam, but were never able to initiate a plan, let alone complete a project. That changes today. I’ve always believed Rockbottom could do more for the City. We’re harnessing the power of our rivers and investing in renewable energy. Binghamton is fast becoming a national leader utilizing new technology to embrace clean energy and smart green development.”
Mayor David will enter into an agreement with Gravity Renewables, of Boulder, Colo., to explore feasibility and designs for generating electricity at Rockbottom Dam. Preliminary engineering analysis supports the installation of an approximate two megawatt (MW) facility. The electricity would be utilized by the City of Binghamton, and initial estimates reflect roughly $8 million in energy savings over 20 years.
Rockbottom Dam was built on the Susquehanna River in 1828 to power a gristmill. In 1931, the City purchased the dam to provide consistent river levels so the City’s water treatment facility could draw water. The dam is nine feet tall and spans 460 feet across the river.
“We are pleased to partner with Binghamton as the City takes a leadership role in building a smart energy future by utilizing one of upstate New York’s greatest natural resources — water,” said Ted Rose, CEO of Gravity Renewables. “New York is rich in sustainable small hydropower facilities, and the Rockbottom Dam seems to hold great potential.”
In Dec. 2015, Gravity Renewables received a preliminary permit to study a proposed project at the Rockbottom Dam from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A FERC preliminary permit provides three to five years to gather data, study the feasibility of a site and prepare a formal FERC license application. In early 2016, Gravity Renewables began discussions with the City of Binghamton.
Gravity Renewables focuses on revitalizing historic, distressed or forgotten small hydro facilities across North America. It currently owns 10 hydroelectric plants, including five in New York. In 2014, Gravity Renewables and the New York Municipal Gas and Electric Alliance (MEGA) entered into a multi-year collaboration during which Gravity serves as the preferred provider of energy from small hydroelectric sites to MEGA’s member participants, municipalities and public agencies in New York.
“MEGA represents over 275 municipalities and counties across upstate NY,” said MEGA president Ron Feldstein, “Our program encourages re-investment in our upstate communities, preserves local jobs, strengthens the tax base and helps stabilize energy costs for our members like Binghamton.”
The Rockbottom Dam hydroelectric project is the latest green energy initiative from the David Administration.
In 2015, the City began converting all 7,000 streetlights to LED technology. In 15 years, the $4 million project will save $6.2 million in electricity and maintenance costs. The LED conversion has also reduced the City’s carbon emissions by 3 million pounds and saved 3.1 million kWH (kilowatt-hours) in electricity each year.
In 2015, Mayor David pushed to ease restrictions and promote installation of electric vehicle charging stations through changes to the City’s zoning code. Those changes, adopted by City Council, were awarded $5,000 from NYSERDA’s Cleaner, Greener Communities Program for adopting streamlined permitting for electric vehicle charging stations. In 2016, the City received a similar $5,000 award from NYSERDA for adoption of streamlined solar panel installation regulations.
In 2015, the City received a $100,000 grant to study the feasibility of a downtown microgrid, a sustainable energy system independent from the main power grid in the event of an outage of natural disaster.
The Municipal Electric & Gas Alliance (MEGA) is a New York State not-for-profit local development corporation established in 1998. It currently serves as an energy aggregator for over 275 municipalities and organizations statewide. For more information, visit www.megaenergy.org.
Gravity Renewables is a leading national owner, operator and developer of small hydroelectric power plants. Small hydropower provides predictable, reliable, affordable clean energy that’s locally produced. By making a long-term commitment to these neighborhood facilities, Gravity restores and conserves important historical sites, employs local operators and promotes educational and recreational opportunities in the communities it serves. Gravity currently has more than 40 MW of hydroelectric projects operating and under development across the country. In New York, Gravity owns the Chittenden Falls, Stillwater, Mill Pond. Seneca Falls and Waterloo hydroelectric facilities. For more information, please visit www.gravityrenewables.com or contact 303.440.3378. Follow Gravity Renewables on Twitter or Facebook.
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