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NYPA completes upgrade on first of 12 turbine-generator units at Niagara plant's Lewiston pump-generating facility

by jmaloni

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Mon, Oct 7th 2013 03:40 pm
Milestones for the 10-year, $460 million life extension and modernization for the New York Power Authority's Lewiston pump-generating hydroelectric plant include completion of upgrade for the first of 12 pump-turbine generators and arrival of one of the new step-up transformers, illustrated here, for moving electricity from the plant to the power grid. (New York Power Authority photo)
Milestones for the 10-year, $460 million life extension and modernization for the New York Power Authority's Lewiston pump-generating hydroelectric plant include completion of upgrade for the first of 12 pump-turbine generators and arrival of one of the new step-up transformers, illustrated here, for moving electricity from the plant to the power grid. (New York Power Authority photo)

Work on second unit to begin this month

The New York Power Authority has upgraded the first of 12 pump-turbines at the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant's Lewiston pump-generating plant as part of a 10-year, $460 million life extension and modernization program, which began late last year.

"The LPGP upgrade is in line with the Gov. Cuomo's emphasis on modernizing the state's electric power system to optimize its performance and reliability," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. "The Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant is one of the state's premier electric power assets in terms of the enormity of its low-cost, emission-free power production. That value is being enhanced by our major ongoing investment on the multiyear upgrade at LPGP."

"The completion of work on this first pump-turbine generator marks a significant step in the critical infrastructure upgrade at our Lewiston pump-generating plant," said Joseph Kessler, NYPA senior vice president for power generation. "The Power Authority is committed to ensuring that the Niagara hydroelectric plant is able to operate at maximum efficiency for decades to come, providing some of the lowest cost electricity in the country to the region's businesses and other customers."

The modernization at LPGP provides for the upgrade of the facility's 12 pump-turbines and the replacement of generator step-up transformers, which date back to 1961 when the Niagara plant went into service. The next pump-turbine unit is scheduled to be taken out of service later this month.

LPGP provides electricity during periods of peak power demand, supplementing the output of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the main generating facility.

The work at LPGP will overhaul one pump-turbine every eight to nine months, ensuring that 11 of the 12 LPGP turbine units are available for operation during the upgrade so that NYPA can meet commitments to its power customers.

Work on the plant's refurbishing includes contract awards to Ferguson Electric of Buffalo, the largest electrical contractor in Western New York.

Pumped-storage facilities such as LPGP store water as potential energy during off-peak hours
for later use when demand is higher. At night or on weekends, when electricity demand is low,
the pumped-generating plant's reversible pump-turbine generating units operate as pumps, transporting water from the Niagara project's forebay up to the Lewiston plant's 22-billion-gallon upper reservoir, which is approximately 70 to 120 feet higher in elevation. Surplus electricity from the Moses plant is used to power the pumps to push water into the Lewiston reservoir during the off-peak times.

During the daytime, when electricity use peaks, the pumps are reversed and become generators allowing Niagara River water to be used to produce electricity twice, with the same water flowing through the Lewiston pump-turbines and then the generating units at the Moses plant.

Together, the Moses plant and LPGP combine for a net dependable capability of 2,441 megawatts, making the Niagara plant the largest generating facility in the state and one of the largest in the country. (One MW is enough electricity to meet the power needs of 800 to 1,000 typical homes.)

LPGP is one of two major pumped storage facilities in New York state, the other being the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Power Plant in the northern Catskills (another NYPA facility). In May 2010, the Power Authority completed a four-year overhaul of that facility.

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