National Grid representatives got a first-hand look at Cobleskill Stone Products’ latest quarrying operations Monday as they delivered a $250,000 check to help pay for CSP’s new $1 million electricity connection system.
The grant is part of National Grid’s upstate economic development program to help companies with major capital investment projects, according to Thomas J. Wind, Gloversville-based account manager with the utility’s Energy Services Solutions division.
Turning the Howes Cave quarry into a “state-of-the-art” rock mining and crushing operation “was an investment of between 10 and a half and 11 million dollars,” said John Holmes, Cobleskill Stone’s corporate counsel.
The new system includes a power substation built by Cobleskill Stone that steps down current from high-voltage lines the company also installed to bring in about 220,000 kilowatt hours of power the limestone quarry was using per month during startup operations last fall.
The electricity needed to run massive rock crushers, conveyors and truck-loading facilities installed last year at the former cement plant in Howes Cave could power about 275 typical homes, according to National Grid officials.
In switching its primary quarrying operations to the Howes Cave site, Cobleskill Stone Products closed its quarry off Barnerville Road overlooking the village of Cobleskill in October, according to company President Emil Galasso.
Corporate offices remain at the Cobleskill site. Significant limestone reserves still exist and quarrying permits continue at Cobleskill site, Galasso said, but stone is no longer being taken out of that quarry.
The company also operates a quarry in the town of Schoharie. A decision on a controversial permit application to expand the Schoharie quarry is awaiting a ruling by state Department of Environmental Conservation administrative judge.
As part of its $10 million upgrade at the 230-acre Howes Cave quarry, Cobleskill Stone initially planned on building its own generating station to supply its own electricity, Galasso said.
“National Grid wanted us to go to high-line power … and buy it from them,” Galasso said, referring to the overhead 13,200-volt transmission lines now bringing in high-voltage electricity to the new substation.
“In the scheme of things, once the [National Grid] grant was factored in, and the cost of the generators, it was better to buy it from them,” Galasso said.
Buying direct from National Grid also avoided the likely need for potential air emissions permits, as well as ongoing maintenance expenses for generators, according to Holmes.
The rising cost of diesel fuel to run generators was also a significant consideration, Holmes said.
Under National Grid’s program, Wind said the stone company was required to complete the substation and related electrical systems to their specifications before receiving the $250,000 handed over Monday.
The utility recently provided a similar $250,000 grant to the Fage Yogurt plant in Johnstown, according to National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella.
After trial runs of the new indoor rock-processing system accumulated a sufficient s stockpile of stone, the Howes Cave quarry shut down for the winter, according to Galasso.
During normal operations, about 20 employees work at the Howes Cave quarry in addition to about 50 truck drivers that also serve other Cobleskill Stone Products quarries, Holmes said. Refitting a massive, deteriorating 2-acre building that once housed cement kilns included ripping out three stories of concrete floors, said quarry project manager Paul Bascomb.
Stone bins are fed by a 640-foot conveyor snaking through the huge building to a point where they can rotate over a truck to fill it with several sizes of stone.
An automated system that reads billing cards from truckers at the quarry entrance and weigh station can alert the loading crew, as well as bill the proper account, all within a few minutes, according to CSP officials.
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Categories: Schenectady County