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Fri., Sep. 19
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

St. Regis dam project gets grant

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ST. REGIS FALLS - The owners of a failing wooden dam on the St. Regis River have been told they will receive money to build a concrete dam.

Azure Mountain Power Co. co-owner Everett Smith will receive a $600,000 grant to build the dam through the Adirondack North Country Association; “the only [not-for-profit] economic development organization that reaches across the entire 14-county north country,” according to its website.

Mr. Smith said ANCA aggregated several projects, including the reconstruction of the dam, to obtain grant money from the state because the dam project didn’t cost enough on its own to meet the state’s funding criteria.

Waverly Supervisor Michael Bailey said this week the $600,000 is expected to cover the entire construction of the concrete dam, though it was previously thought it would cost $750,000 to build such a facility.

Mr. Bailey noted that besides building the new concrete dam Mr. Smith plans to retain the timber one as well. “That will cut down a lot of his costs,” he said.

The Waverly town supervisor said the new dam will be built downstream of the current timber dam and “quite close.”

Though there was some fear the dam may not last through the winter, Mr. Bailey said the dam is still standing.

“It’s got a hell of a sag in the middle and it’s got some leaks, but it’s holding good, real good, actually,” he noted.

Mr. Smith was able to sign a contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority that will allow AMPC to charge an extra 2 cents a kilowatt for the power it produces.

Before the extra 2 cents, Mr. Smith said the company was making 3.7 cents a kilowatt.

“That’s why he mentioned that he already signed a contract with NYSERDA for 2 cents more a kilowatt to help him out because he’s going to have to borrow the money up front,” Mr. Bailey said.

The grant money won’t be coming “for a while,” he said.

Mr. Bailey said Mr. Smith is trying to take out a $600,000 loan from a local bank but has so far been unsuccessful.

But Mr. Bailey said he has no doubt that Mr. Smith will be able to find a bank to loan him the money before he receives the grant.

In the meantime, the town supervisor said the dam’s operators are working on getting the paperwork together for building permits.

“He expects to start by July 15 and be completed by Oct. 15,” Mr. Bailey said. “He’s hoping to hire a local contractor.”

He said Blue Mountain engineer John Carr is designing the dam. “He’s working on it pretty hard right now,” Mr. Bailey said.

Mr. Smith has said a new dam could enable AMPC to increase the production of electricity by 5 percent, “if we’re lucky.”

He noted that the company services about 450 homes annually.

Mr. Smith said the power the company produces sometimes goes as far as Santa Clara and Dickinson, but it does not produce all the power those towns need.

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