The New York Power Authority board of trustees has taken action for the acquisition of two new tugboats to support the operation of the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant. The new boats will replace two of the plant's existing vessels - the Daniel Joncaire and the Breaker - part of a fleet of four vessels that play an integral role in the winter operation of NYPA's Niagara plant and the Sir Adam Beck Pump Generating Station, owned by Ontario Power Generation.
At their Oct. 15 meeting, the trustees awarded a more than $4.9 million contract to Great Lakes Shipyard of Cleveland, to fabricate the new boats: the Daniel Joncaire II, scheduled for delivery in 2015, and the Breaker II, scheduled for delivery in 2017.
Cost of the tugboat replacement project will be equally shared with OPG.
The NYPA board's action followed its award last year to Bristol Harbor Group of Rhode Island to engineer and design the two new tugboats.
"The tugboats play an essential role in keeping the Niagara River water intake structures of the hydroelectric plants clear of ice blockages during the winter," said Harry Francois, NYPA Western New York regional manager. "This helps to ensure continued flow of water for clean, low-cost hydropower generation for Western New York businesses and other customers. So we look forward to christening the new boats, which are highly visible symbols of the power generating process."
Every winter, the Power Authority works with Ontario Power Generation to prevent ice on the upper Niagara River from impeding power production and causing flooding of shoreline property. The boats are used to install and remove an 8,800-foot-long floating ice boom, consisting of steel pontoons linked together and anchored to the river bottom at Lake Erie's outlet to the Niagara River.
The boom accelerates the formation of the natural ice arch that forms most winters near the head of the upper Niagara River and also stabilizes the arch once it has formed. The boom prevents the buildup of ice, yet allows water to continue flowing downstream.
The tugboats are also used for in-service maintenance, inspection and repairs of the ice boom and to patrol the river and break up ice, as needed.
The decision to replace the Daniel Joncaire and the Breaker - more than 30 years old and more than 50 years old, respectively - stemmed from a NYPA 2012 study to evaluate the condition of the boats, which determined both had exceeded their service lives as towing vessels.
Several options for refurbishment were evaluated, but, based on the cost and the extensive modifications required, NYPA determined the boats should be replaced. The contract award to Bristol Harbor stemmed from a competitive-bid process.
The new boats will feature heavy stems for light ice-breaking and will be built to comply with the latest codes and standards of the American Bureau of Shipping, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard.