April 27, 2009 - Upstate New York
Seneca BioEnergy, LLC is completing a year-long infrastructure project at the former Seneca Army Depot for what is to become a $40 million green energy complex unlike any other in the state.
The company plans to open an agricultural processing and renewable energy production facility on a portion of the former Army base in 2010. Among other operations, the facility will turn local agricultural crops into renewable energy.
Seneca BioEnergy's "AgBio Green Energy Park" is being developed on a 55-acre property along Rte. 96. The company is converting two former Seneca Army Depot warehouse buildings with 400,000 s/f of redevelopment space and 3,500 ft. of dedicated railroad tracks.
When operations are completely under way, Seneca BioEnergy's products will include three types:
* Agriculture: Soybean and canola oil, agricultural meal and grape seed oil.
* Energy: Biodiesel and biomass.
* Environment: Vineyard waste management and manufactured soils.
Using investor funds and a $1 million Restore N.Y. grant that was received in 2008 with the support of state senator Michael Nozzolio, the buildings were rehabilitated and utilities serving the complex were constructed, including upgrading the storm sewer, water sprinkler systems, natural gas and electrical service.
The Seneca BioEnergy's total project cost is about $40 million, and to date over $5.5 million has been invested through private and public funds. The company's goals are green, said CEO Michael Coia of Lodi. "Seneca BioEnergy seeks to support both energy and agriculture in ways that will serve and protect our environment in the future,'' he said.
"Seneca BioEnergy plans to lease space at its complex to other companies and its first tenant, Top Quality Hay Processors, has installed its innovative hay drying facility and is ready for operation this year. The Seneca AgBio Complex has 160,000 s/f of manufacturing space available for other renewable energy manufactur-ing and agribusinesses," Coia said.
"Flaum Management Co. of Rochester has more than 1,000 acres in the depot's former warehouse area that is a pad-ready, shovel-ready redevelopment site with rail service and is considered by the Empire State Development Corp. to be one of the largest redevelopment sites in the northeast," Coia said. This pad-ready warehouse area is immediately adjacent to the Seneca AgBio Complex, and once electrical service is completed, its redevelopment will be enhanced.
The AgBio Complex and Top Quality Hay Processors anticipate creating over 150 high-wage jobs in manufacturing and agribusiness.
The company CEO said he is pleased with the progress being made and with the continued support of town supervisor David Kaiser and the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency (IDA). He said Seneca County IDA director Robert Aronson and IDA depot development manager Pat Jones have been helpful in steering the company in the right direction with this important business development project. The IDA is considering financial inducements for the project, including tax exempt bonding and PILOT financing.
Coia, an environmental engineer with 25 years experience in environmental restoration and sustainable development said the park will crush soybeans and canola, producing about 15 million gallons per year of biodiesel, a renewable energy to be blended with petroleum diesel fuel. It is made from soybeans and other oilseed crops that can be grown over and over which can be used in regular diesel engines with little or no modification.
Agricultural meal is a by-product of the mechanical pressing of soybeans and canola seeds. The company will produce 110,000 tons a year. The combined plants for oilseed processing and biodiesel production will be one of the first vertically integrated agribusinesses and biodiesel facilities in the northeastern states.
Seneca BioEnergy sees the Finger Lakes, with more than 100 wineries and thousands of acres of vineyards, as home for the company's production of grape seed oil. The oil is pressed from the grape seeds contained in vineyard waste pomace, the solid material left over after juice is squeezed from grapes to make wine. Seneca BioEnergy is working with vineyards and wineries in the Finger Lakes to remove their waste pomace, separate the grape seeds, and press the grape seed oil, using the equipment at its facility.