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As Opponents Rally, Torrey Planning Board Punts Greenidge Plant Expansion To April

Updated: 3/18/21 – 9:15 P.M.

ENDWELL, NY (WSKG) — Opponents of the proposed expansion of the Greenidge Generation plant and bitcoin mining facility gathered outside the Town of Torrey Planning Board meeting on Monday, but the body postponed consideration of the matter to April.

Planning Board Chair David Granzin said the board would hold a special meeting to consider the Greenidge expansion on April 26. Greenidge spokesperson Michael McKeon said the item was removed from the agenda due to a scheduling conflict with attorneys.*

The Greenidge facility, located just outside the Village of Dresden, utilizes Seneca Lake and a neighboring tributary for cooling water. The former coal-powered electricity plant switched to natural gas, but recently began to use excess energy it generates to mine bitcoin. With the expansion, it seeks the ability to operate at its full generation capacity and extend the computing power of its bitcoin miners.**

Opponents of the plant, including representatives from Seneca Lake Guardian and several other vocal environmentally-focused groups from the Finger Lakes, demonstrated outside the meeting.

"When a predatory company comes in like this and tries to threaten that, we have to speak out,” Yvonne Taylor, Co-Founder and Vice President, Gas Free Seneca, and organizer of Monday’s protest said.

Taylor was one of a few dozen protestors who stood outside the meeting holding signs as members of the planning board entered the building, though most chose not to go inside. The planning board did not live stream the meeting.

“This small handful of self-proclaimed environmentalists have a legendary aversion to the truth," McKeon said in a statement. "The truth is we are operating fully within our permits and will continue to do so as we create jobs and tax revenue for local governments and schools. The truth is that our team cares deeply about Seneca Lake and it’s fishery, and is spending millions of dollars to protect it with the best technology available."

"We are not expanding our power generation capacity and our data center operation is a huge positive for our region.  These attacks on our workers and their livelihoods are shameful and we’re pleased that local governments and our neighbors are soundly rejecting them.  The transformation we’ve made at Greenidge is real, and is producing real benefits for our neighbors,” he added.***

*This story has been updated with an explanation from Greenidge as to why the meeting was postponed.

**Reflects Greenidge's contention that the permit only allows the facility to operate at full capacity.

***Updated with statement from Greenidge.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.