Paul Smith’s College now 100% powered by Local Hydroelectricity through Northern Power & Light, Inc.

Paul Smith’s College has announced that 100% of its electricity accounts are now served by local hydroelectric power stations through Northern Power & Light, Inc (NP&L), transitioning more than 40% of the College’s totally energy needs to local renewable sources.

Saranac Lake-based NP&L connects local energy producers with local customers. The company began supplying Paul Smith’s in March, when the College subscribed to electricity from the Azure Mountain Power facility in St. Regis Falls. This latest announcement adds electricity from the Sissonville hydro station on the Raquette River in Potsdam to meet the rest of the College’s electric needs.

“We are thrilled to expand our service to Paul Smith’s” said NP&L founder Emmett Smith. “The College was an early subscriber to our first project, Azure Mountain Power, and that was a big help to us getting started. But we did not have enough power available to serve the whole campus until we brought Sissonville online.”

The 3.1 MW Sissonville hydro station is located at the former site of Raquette River Paper in Potsdam, NY. NP&L manages energy from the project in partnership with owner-operator Boralex Hydro Operations, based in Glens Falls.

“Paul Smith’s College is committed to supporting local clean energy while reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.” said Paul Smith’s College Sustainability Coordinator Kate Glenn.  “Supporting local businesses and preserving existing renewable energy sources in the region, like the historic Sissonville Hydro station, will help build a more resilient electric grid and local economy. Rural areas face unique economic struggles, and renewable energy generation is one of the ways we can continue to develop our region’s economy sustainably.”

Under Glenn’s leadership, Paul Smith’s has increased its commitment to local renewable energy in recent years. By committing to purchase hydropower for all its electricity, 40 percent of the college’s total energy needs are now supplied by renewable, carbon-neutral sources. The college installed one of the North Country’s first district wood pellet boilers in 2017, and installed 10 electric vehicle charging stations on the main campus and the Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in 2020.

This recent announcement places Paul Smith’s in the vanguard of a regional trend in higher education toward switching to renewable power sources, particularly hydro. Clarkson University announced in fall 2019 that it would purchase all of its electricity from Brookfield Renewable, New York’s largest independent hydro company, which owns over a dozen facilities on the Raquette River. And the State University of New York recently issued a request for proposals for renewable service to all SUNY campuses starting in 2021.

A Legacy of Clean Energy at Paul Smith’s

Paul Smith’s College previously owned and operated the area’s electric utility, Paul Smith’s Electric Light & Power & Railroad Company. The company operated hydroelectric facilities at Keese’s Mills, Union Falls, Franklin Falls, and Lake Flower, and served customers in several northern Adirondack towns before merging with Niagara Mohawk—now National Grid—in 1966.

“The Paul Smith’s College commitment to sustainable local hydroelectric power originated with our namesake, Paul Smith himself ,who established his first hydroelectric plant right here on our campus,” said Jon C. Strauss, Paul Smith’s interim president. “Community distributed generation has made it possible. We’re delighted to continue that tradition by committing to purchase 100 percent of our electric power from locally sourced hydroelectric facilities.”

Power Available to Local Customers

NP&L enables small producers to connect with local consumers through a platform called community distributed generation (CDG). Under this model, customers subscribe to a portion of the output from a local facility, and pay the provider for power as it is used. Other companies relying on CDG in the North Country include Saranac Lake Community Solar. NP&L is currently seeking new customers for projects in the North Country, and service is available to any customer who pays a National Grid electric bill. Residents and businesses can sign up or find out more at

“Ecological stewardship is central to everything we do at Paul Smith’s,” said Glenn. “The challenge of renewable energy requires us to localize our energy grid and look at the resources available nearby—resources that fit with the climate and ecology of our region. When we buy local, we also do our part for the region economically.”

About Paul Smith’s College
At Paul Smith’s College, it’s about the experience. We are the only four-year institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs – in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, sustainability, natural resources, entrepreneurship and the sciences – draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. Check out our newly launched Natural Resources Graduate Program. For more information, visit

Katharine Glenn, Sustainability Coordinator, Faculty, Department of Environment and Society, Paul Smith’s College Center for Sustainability. 518.327.6054,

Emmett Smith, Founder, Northern Power & Light, Inc. (518) 293-4075,