This Albany business owner was looking for office space – he’s buying a power plant instead!
By Mike De Socio – Digital Editor, Albany Business Review. Feb 5, 2020, 6:00am EST
When the owner of an electric charging station vendor in Albany started searching for new offices, he didn’t think he’d end up buying a power plant.
[John Doran](https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/search/results?q=John%20Doran) was looking for an old school or church he could convert, but he’s now under contract to buy a hydroelectric dam in the Columbia County village of Valatie.
It’s just as well, if not better: Doran plans to use the building for offices while at the same time generating renewable energy to power his electric car charging stations.
“It’s just absolutely perfect. It is everything that I would ever look for,” Doran said.
His business, PlugIn Stations Online, currently works in offices on Broadway in downtown Albany. Doran wanted to move the offices farther south to make for quicker travel to New York City, where the company has several contracts.
Doran would be purchasing the Valatie Falls plant for [around $200,000](https://upstater.com/columbia-county-ny-hydro-electric-plant-299k/) from Valatie Falls Hydro LLC — a holding company that bought the property in 2018 with plans to [use it as a cryptocurrency mine](https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/08/23/1555665/0/en/Dpw-Holdings-Super-Crypto-Mining-Announces-Valatie-Falls-Hydroelectric-Dam-to-Become-Operational-in-Fourth-Quarter-2018.html) powered by hydroelectricity. Doran said that operation fell through due to poor management, and National Grid has since disconnected the plant.
Doran, who’s an electrician by trade, plans to get the generators running again and renovate about 1,500 square feet in the building into offices. He estimates it will cost about $100,000 to get the building to that point.
If that’s successful, Doran wants to build a separate office building on the property and instead use the historic building as a sort of museum of electric vehicles. To top it all off, Doran would build a parking lot with both standard level-two car chargers as well as DC fast chargers accessible to the public. Fast chargers can deliver an 80% charge in 20 minutes for some electric cars.
And here’s where it all comes together: Doran wants to use the hydropower generated from the dam to power the car chargers.
He’s not the first one to try that in New York state. Stewart’s Shops had a plan to dramatically expand electric car charging infrastructure upstate by tapping a hydro plant in Mechanicville. [The plan fell through](https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/news/2019/11/11/stewarts-electric-car-charging-network.html) after Stewart’s and Albany Engineering Corp. lost an appeal with state regulators in 2016.
Doran says he’s already been in conversation with National Grid and [Jim Besha](https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/search/results?q=Jim%20Besha) Sr., chairman of Albany Engineering. For now, Doran is focused on clearing his plans with the village of Valatie, closing on the property and moving his offices into the building.
“It’s a spectacular little spot,” Doran said.