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Energy Cost Savings Allow Ticonderoga Mill To Retain Jobs, Invest $100 Million

Lucas Willard

The Cuomo administration has announced that a state program that provides low-cost power to businesses will help support $100 million in investment at a Ticonderoga paper mill.

Officials gathered Wednesday at International Paper’s Ticonderoga mill to announce that energy supplied to the mill through the ReCharge NY program will allow the mill to make new investments and retain workers.

Gil Quiniones, President and CEO of the New York State Power Authority, said the program supplies low-cost power sourced from renewable sources, much of which is hydroelectricity. Quiniones said the savings on energy will help International Paper strengthen its operations in Ticonderoga.

“In return they’ve committed to retain 650 jobs and to invest and expand these operations by another $100 million so it’s really a win-win not only for International Paper but for the state of New York,” said Quiniones.

International Paper's Imaging and Commercial Printing Papers Vice President and General Manager John Sims said the low-cost, renewable power sourced to the Ticonderoga Mill over the past two years has helped the company save money and compete with other businesses. 

“And so we have to produce a product that’s competitive and we have to produce one that’s of good quality, and one that customers buy,” said Sims. “So things that we can do that help us produce things sustainably and also with less costs help secure jobs for this mill and other jobs within the United States.”

Speaking for the workers at the mill, “Arnie” Ross, Jr., of United Steel Workers Local 497, said the partnership with the ReCharge NY program has allowed him to reassure his coworkers that their jobs will be secure in a region that has been hit hard by the loss of industrial jobs in recent years.

“Well today, my spirit’s been recharged. I feel good about this partnership. It has reassured me that I can go back to these people that are friends of mine and say ‘yes, we do have a future here at IP’,” said Ross.

In addition to the power provided by ReCharge NY, International Paper also received fiscal awards from other agencies. A $1 million award from Empire State Development and $750,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will be used to support the conversion of the mill’s power boiler and lime kiln from no. 6 fuel-oil to natural gas.

Cheryl Glanton is Senior Program Director for Energy Efficiency at NYSERDA.

“The company estimates that this project will result in an annual reduction of 16 million gallons of fuel oil consumption, which will lead to significant cost savings. In addition, these improvements are expected to result in the reduction of 55,000 tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to removing 11,000 cars from the road,” said Glanton.

The natural gas supplied to the International Paper mill would depend on the completion of the controversial pipeline proposed by Vermont Gas that would run under Lake Champlain. Donna Wadsworth, a spokeswoman for IP, said energy costs are the mill’s highest-input costs, and hopes the Vermont Gas pipeline comes to the mill.

When asked by reporters about what the company would do if the pipeline were not to come to Ticonderoga, Wadsworth answered…

“I think you can see here today the kind of energy that is behind this mill, the kind of commitment that International Paper has in this mill, and we will find a way to the future,” said Wadsworth.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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