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More power needed for Luther Forest tech campus

Official: Expanding utilities for tenants could take 10 years

Monday, December 10, 2012
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— The Luther Forest Technology Campus needs to double its already-huge electric power supply to land another major manufacturing tenant, said the head of Saratoga County’s economic development agency.

The capacity at the campus’ 400-megawatt power substation — which can supply enough power to support 400,000 homes — may be needed entirely for the GlobalFoundries computer chip manufacturing complex, said Dennis Brobston, president of the Saratoga Economic Development Corp.

“To get to the next level, we have to bring in more power,” he told the county Industrial Development Agency, which met Monday in Ballston Spa.

He warned that the process of planning for, designing, getting regulatory approvals and building new power infrastructure could take a decade.

“You’re looking at the possibility of $100 million in electric work to get to the point where we can get past GlobalFoundries,” Brobston said.

He said economic development officials are working with both National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas and with state regulators to figure out how to meet the campus’ future power needs. Both companies supply the enormous campus, and both have built new power lines to do it.

National Grid is currently building a new 115-kv transmission line in western Saratoga County to meet demands from GlobalFoundries and other businesses in the county, but Brobston said that won’t be enough to meet the potential future demand.

The technology campus, spread across 1,414 acres in Malta and Stillwater, was designed a decade ago, and most of its infrastructure was built in 2008 and 2009. When it was designed, officials believed the 400-megawatt substation would meet the needs of the entire campus for years.

GlobalFoundries started building its $7 billion Fab 8 computer chip plant in 2009, and expanded the original size of the plant during construction. It is now mostly finished and coming to full commercial production.

To date, GlobalFoundries is the only tenant at the technology park, which has multiple development sites.

The manufacturing tools used in computer chip-making consume enormous amounts of power. Brobston said the current plant is using nearly half the capacity of the campus substation.

GlobalFoundries has plans for a research and development facility at Fab 8, and perhaps a second manufacturing plant, which would probably use as much power as the first.

Brobston said the technology campus also needs additional natural gas capacity.

 
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