Nearly $1 million from economic development council to fund hydro dam, historic building rehab in Potsdam
Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:37 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM -- The village will receive a total of $965,000 through two state regional grants to get its East Dam hydroelectric generation plant operational again and to refurbish some downtown buildings.

“The village of Potsdam was funded in full for both of its grant applications” in the latest round of North Country Regional Economic Development Council grants announced Wednesday, said Village Administrator Greg Thompson.

Hydro plant getting $750,000

The village’s hydro plant rehabilitation plan will get an infusion of $750,000 “which will offset the direct construction costs,” pegged at a total of $1.8 million for the troubled hydro plant, Thompson said.

“That takes a really large portion of the project and makes it paid for before we begin,” he said.

With an additional $250,000 secured for the plant in July by Assemblywoman Addie Jenne, and the possibility of debt financing provided by NYPA through its Energy Efficiency Program, the plan to restart the plant is gaining momentum.

After several decades sitting unused, the East Dam Hydro-Electric Generating Plant with two 400 kW generators was put back in service in 1983 as part of the village’s replacement of its water treatment plant.

In 2014, mechanical problems were detected in both of the East Dam’s generating units, and the plant was shut down the following year. One attempt to repair the gearboxes failed. Since then the village has been trying to devise a repair plan during a period of financial difficulty.

The new funding will go toward repair of the gearboxes, turbines, switching devices, hydraulic systems, and general electrical work, according to Thompson.

Downtown Building Rehab

The village is also getting $215,000 through the New York State Office of Community Renewal's New York Main Street Program, which can provide owners of downtown properties that have renovation needs with grant funding to make repairs.

Thompson says the grant money “will allow us to renovate and rehabilitate up to four buildings in the downtown Market Street corridor.”

Village Director of Planning and Development Fred Hanss has solicited proposals for the funds if they came through and a waiting list has been developed.

That list will be “examined from the top down” to determine what buildings will get the funding, Thompson said.

“We had a really good day yesterday,” Thompson said on Wednesday. “We’re really excited and hoping it’s a great start to 2018.”