ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Part of a former iron ore mine in southern St. Lawrence County will have a new life as a solar power site.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the state has entered into a lease-option agreement to build a solar project at the former Benson Mines in the town of Clifton.
The governor says it will be one of the largest solar projects in the Adirondack Park, which includes the southeastern corner of the county.
The Benson Mines Solar project will cover about 130 acres and generate 20 megawatts of electricity, enough renewable energy for more than 4,500 homes.
The governor says it will be a step toward the his goal for 70 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.
In its heyday, the mine was considered the largest open-pit iron-ore mine in the world.
It ceased mining operations in the 1970s.
The chief executive officer of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency calls this a positive development and says it will not stand in the way of any other projects being considered for the site.
“The footprint that is under option for potential development as a solar facility is a very small portion of the overall property. And the opportunity for a mix of redevelopment activities utilizing the resources at hand on that property remain valid and certainly are activities that should not in any way be inhibited by the renewable energy development potential on this portion of the property,” said Patrick Kelly.
He says benefits to the local area from the project would include construction activity, more tax revenue in the form of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes, of PILOT agreement, and the possibility of upgraded electrical infrastructure.