Major milestone in modernization of hydropower turbines servicing Western New York, statewide businesses
Upgrades support Cuomo's clean energy standard, which requires 50 percent of state's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday announced a $460 million project to upgrade the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant has officially reached the halfway mark. The multiyear plant modernization project allows the New York Power Authority to continue to provide low-cost power to businesses in the region, generating nearly $33 billion in capital investments to the state's economy.
"Investing in New York's clean energy infrastructure today is an investment in our future in sustainable, affordable energy across the state," Cuomo said. "With the halfway milestone of this critical project now met, businesses and residents in Western New York and beyond will enjoy improved performance and reliability in their power, while New York takes yet another step toward achieving our long-term clean energy goals."
These improvements help to meet the governor's "Reforming the Energy Vision" strategic plan for building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system across the state.
"Overhauling the Lewiston Pump-Generation Station is about more than just upgrading a power facility. As the largest power-generating complex in New York state, the Niagara Power Plant is an invaluable element to rebuilding the economy in Western New York," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "Gov. Cuomo has established the most ambitious goals for a clean energy economy in the nation, and the New York Power Authority is playing an integral role in achieving those goals by cutting costs to consumers, creating new jobs and combating climate change."
"The halfway mark in this comprehensive maintenance effort marks an important milestone in our critical infrastructure upgrade project at our Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant," said John R. Koelmel, NYPA chairman. "The Power Authority is committed to ensuring that our Niagara plants 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."
"Generating clean, low-cost power is a critical piece of our mission at the Power Authority," said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. "The careful, collaborative work to upgrade our Niagara facilities is an integral part of a multiyear effort to transform NYPA's generation and transmission system statewide."
The modernization at the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant provides for the gradual replacement of the facility's 12 pump-turbines and its generator step-up transformers, which date back to 1961 when the Niagara plant first went into service. The halfway mark celebrates the sixth turbine to be replaced as part of this project, and the seventh pump-turbine unit on the replacement list was taken out of service earlier this week.
The Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant provides electricity during periods of peak power demand, supplementing the output of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the main generating facility on the Lewiston Road property. The work at LPGP involves the replacement of one pump-turbine every eight to nine months, ensuring 11 of the 12 turbine units are available for operation during the upgrade so that NYPA is able to meet commitments to its power customers. The plant also services municipalities and rural electric cooperatives across the state.
"The Niagara Plant, together with the St. Lawrence Power Plant, provides power generation, which supports incentives tied to hundreds of thousands of jobs and nearly $33 billion in capital investment commitments," said Howard A. Zemsky, president and CEO at the Empire State Development Corp. "These renovations at the Lewiston facility mean that more New York businesses will be able to reinvest in their companies and employees."
Nearly $203 million has been paid out in the Western New York region under NYPA's residential consumer discount program with an additional $30 million per year to be released going forward. To date, the discount program has paid $450 million overall with 45 percent of those dollars directly attributed to the Niagara plant.
Work on the plant's refurbishing also includes contract awards to Ferguson Electric of Buffalo, the largest electrical contractor in Western New York, as well as Niagara Coating Services of Niagara Falls and many other local and regional businesses.
Together, the Moses plant and LPGP combine for a net dependable capability of 2,675 megawatts, making the Niagara plant all-combined the largest generating facility in the state and one of the largest in the country. One megawatt 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.
Pumped-storage facilities like 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 primarily as pumps, transporting water from the Niagara project's forebay up to the Lewiston plant's 20-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 day, 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 again through the generating units at the Moses plant.
"Sixty years ago, the incredible power of Niagara Falls was converted to the cleanest and cheapest electricity through the construction of the Niagara Power Project," Congressman Brian Higgins said. "This project continues a long tradition of this community leading on green energy, an opportunity made possible because Western New York is the proud home of arguably one of the greatest natural resources in the world: Niagara Falls."
New York State Sen. Rob Ortt, Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee member, said, "As New York state's largest hydroelectric power facility, it's critical we maintain the necessary infrastructure upgrades to the Niagara Power Project. Bringing the plant up to speed with the 21st century will help to keep energy costs down for hard-working families while creating valuable local jobs. This project will ensure that the Niagara Power Plant will remain a regional asset and the largest producer of electricity in the state."
Assemblyman Angelo J. Morinello said, "Our area is home to some of the best hydropower and clean energy in the country. The improvements that are being made to our Lewiston Power Plant are necessary to capitalize on the unique geographical resources we have available to us, and I am encouraged by the significant progress that has been made. At the end of this project, I have no doubt we will see significant benefits to the investments the state has made, and I look forward to its completion. I want to thank the workers for their continued efforts and wish them a smooth completion of the construction plan."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster said, "As the City of Niagara Falls continues to experience continued investment not seen in many years, it is crucial to be able to offer clean, low-cost power to residents and businesses alike. Reaching the halfway point of the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant project marks an important milestone in this multimillion-dollar investment and once again highlights Gov. Cuomo's commitment to our region. We look forward to the completion of this project and the many years of cleaner, greener, low-cost power to come."