For over 100 years, the Village of Lyons Falls was a vibrant community on the banks of the Black River and home to the Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper Mill. For decades, power was supplied to the paper mill by the adjacent hydroelectric facility.
In 2001, the mill was forced to close due to the economic downturn in the paper business, resulting in a significant impact on the village’s employment base. In 2004, Northbrook Lyons Falls, LLC (“NBLF”) acquired the existing hydroelectric facility and it continues to operate and maintain the 5.6-MW site to this day, as well as the Gouldtown Development and the Kosterville Development that are located nearby on the Moose River.
Presently, the former paper mill is abandoned and most of the structures that remain in place are dilapidated and dangerous. Some of the structures have collapsed and debris has entered the Black River. There are, however, important assets at the site, including a functional rail siding and a natural gas main.
The Lewis County Development Corporation (LCDC) has been working since 2008 on a redevelopment project for the former Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper Mill site and has partnered with the North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC), SUNY Environmental School of Forestry’s Center for Brownfield Studies, and NBLF to redevelop the entire site by expanding the hydroelectric generation capacity and encouraging new uses of the existing industrial site, such as growing high-quality food through technologically advanced growing and processing systems.
In July 2014, the consortium began the first phase of a large demolition and cleanup project at the site of the former paper mill. NBLF has committed significant resources to help defray the cost of the mill cleanup and plans to invest over $40 million to double the generation capacity at its adjacent hydropower facility to a total of 11.2-MW.
The re-developed hydroelectric plant will produce a total of 63,500 megawatt-hours per year of clean, renewable and affordable energy for the region, an increase of 34,000 megawatt-hours above existing production.