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(Image courtesy of the New York Power Authority)
(Image courtesy of the New York Power Authority)

New York Power Authority approves 15-year construction services contract to modernize Niagara Power Project

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Fri, Jul 16th 2021 07:00 am

Work is part of $1.1 billion, 15-year ‘Next Generation Niagara’ project to extend operating life of state’s largest hydropower plant

The New York Power Authority board of trustees has approved the award of a competitively bid contract, valued up to $275 million, to Voith Hydro Inc., located in York, Pennsylvania, for mechanical and electrical upgrades related to the Power Authority’s 15-year modernization and digitization program titled “Next Generation Niagara.”

“NGN” will extend the operating life of NYPA’s Niagara Power Project in Lewiston, the largest source of clean electricity in New York – and one of the country's largest hydroelectric projects. “NGN” focuses primarily on the 13 power generating units in the project's Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.

“The ‘Next Generation Niagara’ mechanical upgrades represent a foundational part of our multiyear effort to modernize our flagship plant,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “The digitization and upgrade work will progress turbine by turbine and include replacement of mechanical equipment, some of which dates back to the plant’s construction, and will also involve the addition of sensors and new technology to help the project meet NYPA’s bold digitization goals.”

Launched in July 2019, “NGN” improvements will include replacing aging equipment with the latest machinery that reflects advanced digital technologies for optimizing the hydroelectric project's performance. The initiative encompasses four major phases: 1) design and implementation of an inspection platform to conduct comprehensive inspections of the Robert Moses Plant's penstocks – the 485-foot conduits that are 26 feet in diameter along the face of the project that carry water from the forebay to the turbine generators; 2) replacement of the 630-ton gantry crane that enables disassembly and reassembly of the generating units; 3) upgrading and digitizing control systems and building a new back-up control room, and 4) overhaul and/or replacement of mechanical components that have reached the end of their operating life.

The scope of work under this contract, which was awarded in late May, includes the design, delivery and installation of major mechanical components, including headcovers and servomotors, as well as the refurbishment of operating mechanisms including the generator rotors, runners and other turbine components.

It was determined Voith was the best value bidder based on its competitive pricing, experience and ongoing support for the Niagara Power Project, in addition to its submission of what NYPA called “a well-thought-out project execution plan.” A majority of Voith's manufacturing will be fully U.S.-based for the project, reducing the risk of supply-chain delays.

“Being selected to perform strategic work at one of America’s most iconic hydro plants – one of such critical importance to our nation’s electricity grid – makes our entire organization proud,” said Stanley Kocon, president and CEO of Voith Hydro North America. “By allowing Voith to construct and refurbish this equipment with American steel in our York, Pennsylvania, factory, NYPA again is leading the way with critical infrastructure investment and domestic job creation.”

The first turbine outage to update the plant’s mechanical components is scheduled to begin in April 2023. An outage to allow for the digital overhaul of the first unit began late last year and is scheduled to conclude this summer.

About the Niagara Power Project

Following the collapse of Niagara Mohawk's Schoellkopf Power Station in 1956, and the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs in the Niagara Region and nearly 25% of the city's tax base, the Federal Power Commission issued a license in 1957 to the New York Power Authority to redevelop Niagara Falls' hydroelectric power. The Power Authority employed 11,700 workers and, within three years, 12 million cubic yards of rock were excavated. The herculean effort led to the construction of a massive main structure that is 1,840 feet long, 580 feet wide and 384 feet high. 

When the Niagara Power Project produced its first power in 1961, it was the largest hydropower facility in the Western world. President John F. Kennedy called it "an example to the world of North American efficiency and determination." After 60 years of operation and its' obtaining a new 50-year federal operating license in 2007, the Niagara Power Project remains a crown jewel of New York's power infrastructure.

About NYPA

NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 80% of the electricity NYPA produces is clean, renewable hydropower. NYPA uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. For more information, visit www.nypa.gov.

About the Voith Group

The Voith Group is a global technology company. With its broad portfolio of systems, products, services and digital applications, Voith sets standards in the markets of energy, oil and gas, paper, raw materials and transport and automotive. Founded in 1867, the company today has more than 20,000 employees, sales of $4.7 billion and locations in over 60 countries worldwide, and is thus one of the larger family-owned companies in Europe.

The Group Division Voith Hydro is part of the Voith Group and a leading full-line supplier as well as trusted partner for equipping hydropower plants. Voith develops customized, long-term solutions and services for large and small hydro plants all over the world. Its portfolio of products and services covers the entire life cycle and all major components for large and small hydro plants, from generators, turbines, pumps and automation systems, right through to spare parts, maintenance and training services, and digital solutions for intelligent hydropower.

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