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NYPA trustees approve 2 percent increase for 2015 operating budget

by jmaloni


Fri, Dec 19th 2014 08:00 pm

The New York Power Authority trustees have approved a 2 percent increase for the statewide public power utility's operating budget in 2015 that will help continue to transform New York's electric power system to one that is more intelligent and flexible in responding to the needs of customers.

The budget, which was adopted Tuesday, is closely aligned with major energy initiatives of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, including the New York Energy Highway, BuildSmart NY, ReCharge New York, Charge NY, NY-Sun and the Reforming Energy Vision. Each is designed to modernize the state's electric power system, improve energy efficiency and advance the use of clean energy sources and new technologies.

"The budget will ensure the continued effective operation of our generation and transmission facilities, advance major life extension and modernization initiatives, and support the governor's push for improved energy efficiency and integration of the latest energy technologies," said NYPA Chairman John R. Koelmel.

The budget includes $446.6 million for operations and maintenance; $263.4 million for capital expenditures, including upgraded infrastructure; and $239.3 million for energy services programs. While investing heavily in electricity infrastructure, energy efficiency and strategies for meeting future customer needs, the budget allows NYPA to meet its fundamental mission of providing low-cost electricity for job-creating businesses, for public facilities and other customers.

"The budget lays a foundation for reinventing and reimagining the Power Authority's future, from its upgrading of energy infrastructure to its investments in smart-grid innovations and other advanced technologies," said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. "These efforts reflect the importance that we give to the operational excellence of our facilities and new strategic initiatives that will offer customers more choices related to their energy usage."

Those choices involve expanded power generation at the customer level that is consistent with the governor's Reforming Energy Vision initiative. Such programs promise to alter the traditional model of the electric power industry and contribute to "customer empowerment" and a resilient, more robust electric power system.

The three major credit rating agencies - Moody's Investors Service, Standard and Poor's and Fitch Ratings - recently weighed in with a string of positive reports that will help ensure NYPA's continued low-borrowing costs and complement its ability to carry out the initiatives included in the budget.

The O&M budget includes:

Enhancements at NYPA generation and transmission facilities, involving non-recurring maintenance work, $59 million;

•Tailored solutions for customers to reduce their energy costs and improve their electricity service reliability, $25.5 million; and

•Smart-grid technologies to enhance real-time situational awareness of transmission conditions, $17.7 million

The capital budget includes:

•The continuing life extension and modernization programs at the Niagara Power Project's Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, $36.3 million, and Niagara interconnection switchyard, $18.4 million;

•Transformer replacement at the Massena Substation, $14.8 million;

•The Marcy-South Series Compensation Project, an initiative to help relieve transmission congestion on two NYPA power lines from Central New York to the Catskill, $12.7 million; and

•Circuit breaker and relay replacement at the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project, $9.7 million.

The energy-efficiency services budget, which was increased by $17 million to $239.3 million, advances NYPA's oversight of Cuomo's BuildSmart NY Program, a statewide initiative to improve the energy efficiency of state government facilities by 20 percent by 2020. The Power Authority is making similar improvements at local government facilities - including schools, hospitals and municipal buildings statewide. It funds continuing partnerships with job-creating energy service companies for wide-ranging upgrades at customer sites, including high-efficiency lighting, more efficient boilers and chillers and clean energy technologies such as fuel cells, solar power and electric vehicles.

Since 2013 - the first full year of BuildSmart NY - the program has resulted in tens of millions of dollars in lower electric bills and substantial greenhouse gas reductions.

The trustees also approved a four-year financial plan, for 2015-18, which includes preliminary forecasts of revenues and expenditures. The plan is available at www.nypa.gov/financial/budgetreports/budgetposting.htm.

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