Lansing at Large: Citizens’ group urges support for data center

Briana Keller, the cook at Lansing Market, takes a moment to show her support for the proposed conversion of the Cayuga Power Plant to a datacenter.
Briana Keller, the cook at Lansing Market, takes a moment to show her support for the proposed conversion of the Cayuga Power Plant to a datacenter.
Photo by Matt Montague
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The Concerned Lansing Citizens organization, formed to raise concerns about re-powering the Cayuga Power Plant with natural gas, is now giving Lansing residents the means to support the proposed conversion of the plant to a data center.

“We have set up a table in the foyer of the Lansing Market,” Sue Ruoff wrote in an update letter. “The table contains template letters, a petition for signatures and postcards to be either put in a box on the table for us to mail or to take and mail yourself.”

In just a few days, the organization has already sent 87 postcards and several letters and recived more than 60 signatures, she said.

“And many other postcards and letters have been picked up from the table,” she said. “We hope to set up more tables in various locations around town.”

Town Supervisor Ed LaVigne praised the group’s efforts.

“Sue and Diane [Beckwith] should be congratulated for their passion,” LaVigne said. “I urge everyone to continue to move forward with them.”

Heorot Power (owner of both the Cayuga Power Plant and Somerset Power Plant in Somerset) has applied to the New York Power Authority (NYPA) for an allocation of 125 megawatts of renewable energy to run its data centers, Ruoff wrote in her letter.

“Heorot has also filed an application for $65 million in economic assistance from Empire State Development (ESD),” the letter reads. “Those applications are currently pending.”

LaVigne said that, although a decision was made last week on the Somerset plant conversion, a decision on the Cayuga plant won’t be made until early September.

“The Somerset plant applied for more than 100 megawatts, and they got 10,” LaVigne said. “But there are reasons to be positive. First, the Somerset allocation shows that New York state is willing to go in this direction. Second, Cayuga is a different application in a different area, so we are still in the hunt. And third, the grassroots efforts are very important.”

LaVigne said he is encouraged by Lansing and state efforts.

“The state is putting their toe in the water, and that is good news,” he said. “It shows that at least they are willing to try.”

He emphasized the importance of continuing to press the state through letters, postcards and e-mails while there is still time before the decision.

The template letter offers “full support for the proposed $650 million Empire State Data Hub and the planned closure of the 306 MW Cayuga coal facility in Lansing to repurpose the 434-acre site as one component of two large-scale data centers in Upstate New York,” it read.

It also notes that the conversion would represent a $100 million investment, which would be one of the largest capital investments in Tompkins County history, and create 100 Union construction jobs and 30-40 full time employees.

“We further believe this plan could serve as the blueprint for how other states can transition retired coal sites without the need for new market structures or credits,” Ruoff wrote. “This project has unified many different factions and voices who, over the years, have often taken opposing views on the future of the Cayuga plant. … the Empire State Data Hub offers these many different voices a rare opportunity to speak as one.”

In Brief:

Parks and Recreations Opens Fall Programs

The Town of Lansing’s Parks and Recreation Department has opened online registration for the fall programs in soccer, football and cheerleading.

The soccer program is for children grades K-6, small fry football is for ages 9 to 12, flag football is for children in kindergarten through third grade, and cheerleading is for those in grades two through six.
For more information, go to www.lansingrec.com.

Music in the Park

The Destination Band will play this week’s Music in the Park. It is a nine-piece dance band with a musical focus in the genres of R&B, Latin-influenced material, swing, funk and disco. All concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

R2P’s ‘Mamma Mia,’ a Joyful Summer Dance Party

The hit soundtrack of “Mamma Mia” makes the romantic comedy an on-stage summer party, showcasing everyone’s favorite ABBA songs. By the end of the Running to Places (R2P) production, the audience will likely be dancing in the aisles to the irresistible “Dancing Queen.” The show runs Aug. 8-11 at Dewitt Middle School, 560 Warren Rd., Ithaca.

The show runs from Aug. 8 to 11, with performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission; students and seniors $12 and are available online at www.runningtoplaces.org.

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