In addition to expanding our role within the county over these past 50 years, we’ve also expanded the industries we seek to attract and retain. As our name indicates, manufacturing was the primary target of our services when the agency began in 1972. Fifty years later, our portfolio has expanded to include commercial housing projects, healthcare facilities, and mixed-use redevelopment. However, over the past ten years, no sector has grown as quickly as renewable energy.
Wind, solar, green hydrogen, and renewable energy are the buzzwords used on a daily basis throughout the media right now, but Steuben County has been involved with the industry since the early 2000s when the first wind companies considered projects here. By 2009, the county’s first wind turbines started generating energy. Cohocton Wind, or Dutch Hill Wind as it’s known locally, uses 50 turbines to generate about 125 MW of electricity, which is enough to power about 40,000 homes.
Howard Wind closely followed its neighbor in Cohocton, becoming operational in 2011 with 27 turbines generating 55 MW of electricity. To their South, the ten turbines on Marsh Hill around Jasper started generating their 16 MW in late 2014.
Before the state even had climate goals, Steuben County was generating 196 MW of electricity, enough to cover every housing unit in the county.
Fast forward to today, when the IDA has 611 MW of wind generation either under construction or in the pipeline. This accompanies an astounding investment of $843 million, which will induce many more millions in the form of local wages and sales tax for ancillary businesses and Steuben County. On top of that, the three companies investing in Steuben County through Baron Winds, Canisteo Winds, and Eight Point Wind will be paying a combined $93.2 million in new revenue through PILOT payments to the taxing jurisdictions over 20 years.
In addition to wind development, the IDA has several solar projects on the books as well. Abundant Solar’s Troupsburg project, a 5 MW community solar farm, received IDA benefits in late 2019, paving the way for another 32 MW of electricity generation from seven different projects spanning the county. Several utility-size projects (20 MW or larger) are being proposed in Addison, Woodhull, Cohocton, and Wayland. All in, they will generate about 240 MW of electricity.
Not only does the IDA have a pulse on the generation side of renewable energy, but staff is working diligently behind the scenes to make sure the county’s infrastructure can handle the increased load and that all the county’s renewable energy projects are part of a comprehensive plan to address the state’s climate goals. As such, we have spoken with staff at NYSEG regarding the designation of the Hornell territory as an “Area of Concern” for transmission according to the 2021 Power Grid Study. We’ve also disseminated information regarding the state’s Draft Scoping Plan and commented on its aggressive climate goals in the hopes of slowing proposed recommendations until we are assured that renewable sources can safely and cost-effectively deliver reliable power to all users in New York.
It’s an exciting time in Steuben County as IDA staff continues investigating the business opportunities renewable energy has to offer. Rest assured that we are looking around the bend, as well, at that next industry cluster that will bring jobs and investment to Steuben County.