Plan to convert coal-burning Cayuga Power Plant into huge data center

Local News

LANSING, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The owners of a coal-fired power plant in Tompkins County have a plan to convert it to a large data center.

For decades, the plant, originally known as Milliken Station, has been using coal to produce power for customers. The plant operates intermittently now and its days are numbered.  

Lansing Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne says, “It’s a new day.  A new day with new ideas and how can we help you invest in Lansing.”

By the end of next year, Governor Cuomo wants the State’s last two coal-burning plants to end operations.

The State DEC has adopted a plan to phase out the last remaining coal-burning plants. There is the one in the Town of Lansing, Tompkins County and another owned by the same company in Western New York.

The plants’ owner is planning to convert both into large data storage centers. It helps much of the infrastructure to do it is already in place.  The system used to carry power out all these years can be used to carry in what’s needed for the hub.

Tompkins County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson says, “The same company has done basically this project in Montana and been very successful, so great track record.”

Previous plans for the Cayuga Power Plant have been to keep producing power by using trucked in natural gas, or from a solar farm. Neither plan went forward and community support was divided over each one.

Debrorah Dawson is a Tompkins County Legislator whose district includes the Village of Lansing near the plant.

She tells NewsChannel 9, “I am really thrilled that for once they can propose something, and we all say yes that’s a great idea.”

Robertson says the company has been putting aside money for years for when the time comes to decommission the plant. They say the worst possible outcome would be for the company to do nothing and walk away leaving an abandoned site.

“That would be a waste, so this is a way of enhancing economic development in the county and using significant amount of renewable to do it,” Robertson tells NewsChannel 9.

The data center plan would be powered by an on-site solar farm, and an off-site hydro-electric plant.

Mike Sigler is the Tompkins County Legislator for the Town of Lansing.

He says, “We are looking out for the employees that are there now as well, we’re worried about them because these jobs are not going to be the same jobs, but frankly, it’s not a choice between coal plant jobs and data center jobs, it’s data center jobs or no jobs.”

The company’s plans are still under consideration in Albany.

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For more local news, follow Jeff Kulikowsky on Twitter @JeffNC9

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