1. What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy is energy that is produced from sources that are not used up and can be naturally replenished. In addition to hydroelectric power, other types of renewable energy are wind power, solar power, and biomass power.
2. Where would the Lyons Falls Project be located?
The project would be constructed at the existing Lyons Falls Dam on the Black River in the footprint of the existing hydro facility. The dam is located adjacent to the former Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper Mill in the Village of Lyons Falls, Lewis County, New York. There would be no modification to the existing dam and no changes to the pond size or elevation. The new facility would continue to be operated in a run-of-river mode where the amount of water that comes into the pond equals the amount of water that flows out of the pond and down the Black River.
3. Why is this project being redeveloped and built?
The Lyons Falls Mill Redevelopment Project is a renewable energy generation project that would increase the amount of electrical energy generated from the water that presently falls over the Lyons Falls Dam on the Black River. The existing Lyons Falls Mill Hydro facility currently generates electricity but does not use all of the available potential of the waterfalls. It would create enough renewable energy to supply the electricity for 9,000 homes in New York each year. Renewable energy does not use fossil fuels and is non-polluting.
4. What are the benefits of the Lyons Falls Mill Redevelopment Project for the community?
The Lyons Falls Mill Redevelopment Project (Project) would help meet the State of New York Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to acquire or generate a percentage of their load from renewable resources, such as hydro or solar power. But contrary to a new hydroelectric project, which would require construction of a dam, or a solar project, which would require new infrastructure, the Project would use an existing dam to generate more renewable energy than it presently does, without expanding the size of the project.
It is expected that Northbrook Lyons Falls would pay local taxes as appropriate.
During redevelopment, NBLF has been assisting the Lewis County Development Corporation (LCDC) with the demolition of the adjacent Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper Mill buildings in preparation for redeveloping that portion of the site. This has included providing funding and in-kind services to offset the overall cost of this extensive project.
NBLF expects to improve the ability of fish to pass downstream of the dam and NBLF would also be prepared to discuss opportunities to improve on existing recreation facilities at the site.
The electricity from the NBLF Project would be available to energy consumers in the region where the mill is located or to National Grid. If National Grid purchases the energy from NBLF, renewable energy from the Project would be available to the local community through National Grid.
5. Did you inform the Village of Lyons Falls and Lewis County of this Project?
NBLF has been working with village and county officials as far back as 2004 and continues to communicate with local officials, as well as with state and federal officials.
6. What effect will the Project operations have on the aesthetic values of the waterfall?
NBLF understands that the aesthetic values, including both visual and sound, of the waterfall are important features of the area. The Project would divert a larger portion of the water flowing over the dam for power generation. Studies would be conducted to determine the minimum flow passing over the dam at all times when the powerhouse is operating so as to protect the aesthetic values of the waterfall. At some point during most years, the flow in the Black River will drop below a minimum level at which the powerhouse can operate efficiently. When this happens, the powerhouse will cease operation and the entire natural flow of the river will pass over the dam.
7. What effect would the Project have on traffic?
The Project construction would be completely within the existing paper mill and hydropower project property, minimizing effects on the surrounding area. NBLF would avoid peak traffic periods to the extent possible during the construction period and implement traffic controls to ensure public safety and to minimize this effect.
8. What noise impacts would be expected?
During construction, noise levels are expected to be typical for a building construction project and would occur during daylight hours. During holidays and special events that occur in the village or on the Black River, consideration would be given to avoiding work that would produce excessive noise levels. After Commercial Operation Date, i.e. during operation, NBLF does not expect that the project would generate any greater noise than it does presently.
9. What would the Project cost?
For this type of project, NBLF expects a cost in the order of $40 million.
10. What is FERC?
FERC is the acronym for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This federal agency has the authority to review and license most hydroelectric power projects in the United States. FERC has established procedures that applicants must follow to obtain the rights to build and operate hydropower generation projects to produce electricity.
11. Where does the Project stand in the FERC license amendment process?
The FERC license amendment process requires the Licensee to provide current information on the environmental, sociological, recreational, historic, and economic conditions at the site and in the region where the Project is located. In addition, the Licensee is required to provide detailed information on the proposed Project and its effects on the above categories. The resource agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and members of the public then review this information and work with the Licensee to determine what additional benefits the Project should provide. Once these have been agreed upon and final design work has been completed, the Licensee prepares an application to modify its license.
The application has been filed and an Order amending the license has been issued on March 30, 2016 (available here).
12. What about safety issues?
If the project is developped, NBLF will be preparing a public safety plan to be implemented during construction and project operations. FERC will periodically inspect the project as it is being constructed and annually during operations to ensure that the Project is in compliance with the safety plans or if additional safety measures are needed to protect the public.
13. Who does dam safety analysis?
The dam is owned and operated by NBLF, which is responsible for the condition and safety of the dam. FERC has a rigorous dam safety program, which NBLF has been following to ensure the long-term safety of the dam and of people living upstream and downstream from it. NBLF is required to submit dam safety inspection reports and findings of unusual conditions to FERC for review and possible repair.
14. What other projects have you completed and did you follow through with your promises?
Affiliates of NBLF have built and are operating 300 MW of wind capacity in the last several years and they enjoy favorable relationships with the host communities, in part, due to fulfilling their obligations and commitments. One of these projects has received three recognitions for its involvement with local communities. Another affiliated company has developed, constructed and commissioned a 50-MW solar energy complex and has met its commitment to the local community.
15. Will studies requested by agencies or the public be included in the Project?
NBLF conducted several studies in 2006 and 2007 which are still relevant to the present Project. NBLF intends to conduct other studies prior to the Project construction phase including studies on fish entrainment and impingement, fish passage, aesthetic water flows and recreational use.
16. Has NBLF analyzed the sediment, including contaminants, in the water?
NBLF performed a study in 2006 to determine the location and amount of sediments on the upstream side of the dam and in the vicinity of the Project intake. This information will assist with the design of the intake to avoid creating any turbulence that could re-suspend these sediments. NBLF will also take samples of sediments in this area to determine the level of contaminants in these sediments. All contaminated sediments that will be affected by Project construction will be managed according to state and other requirements.
17. Who owns what along the transmission line?
NBLF owns the transmission line from the generators to the Franklin Substation. Part of the property on which this line is located is owned by NBLF and part is owned by LCDC. Where the property is owned by LCDC, NBLF will have easements for the line.
18. Will the transmission line be on steel towers or wooden poles? How large will the structures be?
The existing transmission line is supported on steel structures and wooden poles. The new structures have not been designed yet. The design will take into consideration the visual effects of the line support structures.
19. Where would the substation be located?
No new substation will be required for this Project. The Project will utilize the existing Franklin Substation located on Franklin St. in Lyons Falls. That substation will be modified to accept the greater amount of energy from the Project.
20. What would be the effects on the local economy from the redevelopment project?
The construction phase is expected to create construction jobs and generate economic spin-offs for restaurants, lodging, fuel, and local services.
The Project would benefit the local area through the purchase of materials, providing jobs, and potentially larger payments of local taxes for the Project.
21. Would NBLF be required to sell electricity to Lyons Falls? What are the advantages for the local area?
NBLF is in discussion with several potential power purchasers. If NBLF signs a power purchase agreement with National Grid, Lyons Falls’ residents will be able to use the electricity produced through National Grid.
If the Village of Lyons Falls is interested in purchasing the power generated by the Project, NBLF would be interested in discussing a potential power purchase agreement with the Village.
The Project’s benefits include the production of 63,500 megawatt-hours (MWh) of clean, renewable energy annually, avoiding the use of carbon-producing generation sources. Because the Project is a local source of electric power it may improve the reliability of electric service in the local area without affecting the environment.
22. How will interested parties learn more about this project and be notified about project developments?
Project information is posted on the website. Parties on the contact list can also be notified by email when information is posted on the website. Interested parties and the public can also access Project information on the FERC e-library www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp.