New York Governor Andrew M Cuomo (pictured) has announced a lease-option agreement for the first build-ready solar site in the State.
Under this agreement, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will repurpose the formerly mined land in St. Lawrence County into a 20MW solar project in the Adirondack Park.
The Benson Mines Solar project will be built on the remnants of Benson’s former iron ore mining operation spanning approximately 130 acres.
Once completed, the project will provide enough renewable energy to power more than 4,500 homes.
The project is expected to create approximately 100 construction jobs in support of New York’s green economy.
The agreement reflects the goals of New York’s new siting law and accelerates progress toward Governor Cuomo’s goal for 70% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
Cuomo said: “The repurposing of this former mine in the Adirondack Park represents the innovative thinking that we need to put into action in order to compete in a green energy economy.
“As we rebuild and reimagine our economy, projects like this will go a long way in helping us reach our renewable energy goals while creating opportunities for economic growth and fostering cleaner, healthier communities across New York.”
NYSERDA president and chief executive Doreen M Harris added: “As New York continues to prioritise strategic investments that stimulate economic development across the state, we are taking a comprehensive approach to rapidly advance large-scale renewable energy projects in support of the State’s nation-leading climate and clean energy goals.
“This milestone agreement provides an important opportunity for us to work with local officials and residents to build this project on underutilized land in a way that provides direct and long-lasting benefits to the surrounding community.”
Repurposing this site is consistent with Benson Mines’ long-term goals to promote sustainable industrial development, plan investments that complement but do not compete with local revitalization and create local jobs.
Beginning in the 1800s, the discovery of iron ore and its subsequent mining at Benson Mines has played a foundational role in the Towns of Clifton and Fine’s history and at its peak, the mine was considered the largest open pit iron-ore mine in the world.
It closed in the mid-1970’s and is now an aggregates and timber company serving the North Country.