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When Is Green Not Green – Vireo Wants So Much Power Capability Tyron Tech Park Can’t Handle The Demand

The Leader Herald reports…..

JOHNSTOWN — A local marijuana producer’s $55 million expansion project at the Tryon Technology Park has run into a power problem.

An Aug. 31 letter from the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency’s Board Chairman Joseph Semione to National Grid senior representative Robert Muller indicates the board was “shocked” to learn the new electrical transmission line the county paid to have installed for the Tryon Technology Park in 2021 isn’t big enough to supply the electricity needed for Vireo Health’s new 325,000-square-foot facility, currently under construction.

“Vireo has informed the IDA that [National Grid] cannot provide Vireo with the power it requested from NG’s (National Grid’s) new electric service it just installed,” reads Semione’s letter. “The IDA Board was shocked when it learned of this. Fulton County paid NG a significant amount of money to install this new electric service for the [Tryon Technology Park] only to find that the first customer wanting to connect into it is advised that NG cannot meet its anticipated electrical load.”

The proposed expansion is expected to provide 180 new jobs at the plant, and help to bolster Fulton County’s property tax revenue base.

FCIDA Executive Director James Mraz on Thursday said the new 13.2 kv primary electric service line installed for the Tryon Technology Park cost approximately $650,000, a portion of which was paid for from a state grant.

“The line that was put in is the same size line that National Grid puts into most of its industrial parks. It services the majority of companies’ needs, so that’s what was done,” Mraz said. “Vireo’s project is going to utilize a large amount of electricity, and it’s, in essence, more than what that standard line can provide. When it was learned what the size of the [electrical] demand from Vireo was — which is the driving issue here, their demand beyond what the line can provide — it was shocking.”

Mraz said the 13.2 kv primary electric service line has been proven to be adequate in the past for other FCIDA business parks, except when an expansion of the FAGE USA yogurt plant in the Johnstown Industrial Park also required an electrical transmission line upgrade.

“You can’t say this line isn’t adequate. It is adequate, it’s just not big enough for this large, large electrical user,” Mraz said of the Vireo expansion project.

According to Semione’s letter, Vireo needs at least 9 Mega-volt-amperes [MVA] of electricity for Phase 1 of its expansion and 6 MVA for Phase II.

“It is also the IDA’s understanding that NG has advised Vireo that it can only provide 2.5 MVA to 4 MVA from its 13.2 kv line,” reads Semione’s Aug. 31 letter. “NG has further advised that they could bundle three or four services from their 13.2 kv line to provide Vireo the 9 MVA it needs for Phase 1, but only if Vireo first agrees to pay for a NG transmission line and substation estimated [to cost] in excess of $4.5 million.”

Semione’s letter formally requests National Grid “bundle services as needed” to provide Vireo with the power it needs for its Phase 1 expansion, but was also adamant that the FCIDA board feels it is unfair for National Grid to require Vireo Health to pay for the entire cost of additional infrastructure for the Tryon Technology Park.

“NG had previously advised Fulton County that NG was going to itself upgrade the transmission line from the Stoner Trail substation to CR107,” reads the letter. “Apparently, NG never completed this work. Now, it appears it’s trying to get Vireo to pay to upgrade NG’s infrastructure. Vireo should not bear the financial responsibility of paying to upgrade NG’s infrastructure that it previously committed to upgrade itself.”

Mraz said there were meetings Thursday of the stakeholders in the electrical power problem conducted via the “Microsoft Teams” virtual video conferencing program.

“The project is moving forward,” Mraz said. “I believe there will be a solution to this worked out in the very near future.”

Mraz said he isn’t certain the $4.5 million figure quoted in Semione’s letter will end up being the accurate cost for upgrading the electrical infrastructure needed for the park.

“Right now, no final decision has been made yet,” he said. “National Grid is assessing how much power they can actually provide. Once they can provide that number. Vireo will assess its options to either reduce the load, or potentially generate its own electricity, and at that time decisions will be made for what is the best path forward, and whether it will cost any additional money. Don’t quote a number, no one knows today what the cost of bringing that transmission power for Vireo to Tryon is. That’s something National Grid is looking at.”

Read more  https://www.leaderherald.com/news/business/2021/09/cannabis-producer-needs-more-electricity-for-tryon-expansion-official-says/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=MJD_20210917_NEWS_Daily

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