January 10, 2012
By: Larry Rulison, Business Writer
Source: Times Union
WATERVLIET — U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer came to the gates of Watervliet Arsenal Monday demanding that the Army cut through the red tape and pave the way for a new power plant at the site.
"It's Washington bureaucracy at its worst," Schumer said.
Three years ago, the nonprofit Arsenal Business & Technology Partnership was awarded the right to redevelop 65 acres at the site through the Army's long-term lease program. One of the major pieces of that plan is construction of a new biomass-fed power plant that would also generate steam for the Army's cannon and weapons manufacturing operations.
Partnership officials say the cogeneration plant is critical to support new high-tech tenants for the site — especially a data processing center that would draw a huge amount of power. The partnership has already attracted dozens of tenants employing about 300 people to a small number of available buildings. The additional land it was awarded would allow it to become even more creative in its marketing efforts.
But a new Army organization that toured the arsenal in recent months called the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force told the partnership last month that its power plant idea must be studied more — a process that could take up to two years.
Schumer said the partnership could now lose out on the host of high-tech companies looking to relocate to the Capital Region because of the $4.6 billion GlobalFoundries computer chip factory and the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.
"That is unacceptable," Schumer said. "We can't wait two years. It makes no sense. We cannot let a bureaucratic squabble get in the way. It's just the slow grinding of the bureaucracy that is holding us up."
Schumer says he has asked Army Secretary John McHugh, a former North Country congressman, to clear up the issue with the task force. McHugh created the task force last August to develop large-scale renewable energy projects in partnership with the private sector. The initiative is expected to cost $7 billion over the next 10 years and produce more than 2 million megawatts of renewable energy for the Army.
McHugh's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Watervliet Arsenal spokesman John Snyder referred all calls on the subject to McHugh's office as well.
The partnership recently tried to win $3 million for the cogeneration plant through Gov. Andrew Cuomo's local economic development council, which competed against nine other councils around the state for nearly $800 million in funding, but the money was not awarded. In its proposal to the state, the co-gen plant was listed as having a $23 million price tag.
Meanwhile, the partnership, which has attracted major companies to the site already such as M+W Group, the company building the GlobalFoundries factory, says it is waiting for the Army's decision so it can start attracting as many as 500 new jobs to the site.
"We field calls on a daily basis asking to take advantage of what's happening here," said Peter Gannon, president of the partnership. "All we're asking for today is for the Army to help us help them."
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Schumer-Plant-overdue-2452177.php#ixzz1j4NB3Y64