Deferiet paper mill site eyed for solar power

Updated: Aug. 11, 2020 at 6:23 PM EDT
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DEFERIET, N.Y. (WWNY) - This village’s former paper mill - which once employed hundreds of people - has long been run down, neglected.

But it could become a bright spot for economic development.

The mill sits on the shore of the Black River, one of several mills which dotted the edge of the river between Watertown and Carthage.

Deferiet mayor Janet Zando’s father and grandfather worked there. She remembers what the mill was like in its prime, and how far it has fallen.

“Now when you see buildings just collapsing and sometimes you can be outside and just hear the noise of bricks and things falling crumbling away. Of course, it’s an eye sore,” she said Tuesday.

But the mill land could have another use: the state is looking for land for solar development, a place for a ‘farm’ of solar panels.

“That was one that really jumped to the forefront,” said David Zembiec, from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.

“It’s sitting there, It’s big enough and we haven’t seen another development interest in that site so we thought that it might be a good way to put it back into productive use.”

Mayor Zando welcomes the potential reuse of the mill site.

“It would be wonderful to have something to make it more viable again,” she said.

One other thing that helps: Zembiec says there’s already a small hydroelectric facility on the property.

“There’s infrastructure to tap into to get that power onto the grid without a lot of additional investment,” he said.

But officials will have to wait and see if the land in Deferiet makes the list. The state program will offer incentives to developers to help increase renewable energy by 2030.

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