NYPA To Mark 70th Anniversary Amid Challenge and
FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2001
ALBANYThe New York Power Authority (NYPA) marks its 70th anniversary
Friday (April 27) at a time of significant change in the electric power industry and major
new challenges for the Authority itself.
"As the Power Authority reaches this important milestone, its value to New York
State has never been greater," Gov. George E. Pataki said. "NYPA gives New York
a key advantage as the power business moves into a new age of deregulation and
competition. It is a vital part of our efforts to assure reliable, affordable electricity
for all New Yorkers, to create and retain private-sector jobs and to protect the
On April 27, 1931, Franklin D. Roosevelt, then governor of New York, signed legislation
creating the Power Authority for the purpose of harnessing the St. Lawrence Rivers
International Rapids for hydroelectric power production.
NYPA, which uses no tax dollars, since has grown into the nations largest
state-owned electric utility. It owns and operates 10 power plants, as well as more than
1,400 circuit miles of high-voltage transmission linesabout one-third of all such
lines in the state. Its low-cost power helps to protect about 380,000 jobs under Governor
Patakis Power for Jobs program
and other initiatives. And its a national leader in promoting
electric transportation and clean new power
sources such as fuel cells and solar energy systems.
"The Power Authority traditionally has been called on to meet New Yorks most
pressing energy needs, at times under emergency conditions," said Joseph J. Seymour,
who took office in March as NYPAs 12th chairman and also serves as chief
executive officer. "I see that role continuing and intensifying, especially with
respect to protecting jobs for New Yorkers."
The prime current example of the Power Authoritys ability to respond to critical
challenges is its installation of 10 small,
clean gas-turbine generators in New York City and another on Long Island to help avert
blackouts and price spikes this summer. In another major effort, at a substation near
Utica, NYPA recently completed the first phase of the worlds most advanced device
for boosting power flows on existing transmission lines, reducing the need for new lines.
"These are the kinds of projects that others cant or wont take
on," said Eugene W. Zeltmann, NYPAs president and chief operating officer.
"The Power Authority is particularly well suited to help facilitate New Yorks
transition to a competitive electricity market."
None of this could have been envisioned during the years of controversy that preceded
the Power Authoritys creation. As far back as 1907, Gov. Charles Evans Hughes had
called for public development of the states waterpower resources. Theodore
Roosevelt, as a former governor of New York and president, urged that course. Gov. Alfred
E. Smith backed legislation to create a power authority. But, in the face of strong
advocates of private ownership, all efforts were unsuccessful until the Power Authority
Act became law with bipartisan support in 1931.
More than 20 years would pass before the Authority could begin to build the
hydroelectric facility on the St. Lawrence, now known as the
St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt project.
The project was delayed mainly because of issues concerning the St. Lawrence Seaway, which
was to be constructed along with it. The New York Power Authority became the model for the
Tennessee Valley Authority and other public-power organizations, but was itself only a
Finally, in 1952 and 1953, the Power Authority received international and federal
approvals for the U.S. share of the St. Lawrence project. And, with construction at hand,
Gov. Thomas E. Dewey in March 1954 named Robert Moses, New Yorks "Master
Builder," as the Authoritys chairman.
Moses pledged that the project, spanning the U.S.-Canadian border at Massena, would be
completed within five years and would produce its first electricity within four. Both
goals were met, thanks to an extraordinary cooperative effort with Ontario Hydro, which
had been designated to build the Canadian half of the facility.
Even before its 800,000-kilowatt St. Lawrence project began operation, the Power
Authority had started construction of a still larger hydroelectric facilitythe
2,400,000-kw Niagara project at
Lewiston, near Niagara Falls. The public-private development arguments had raged again,
but were effectively ended by a rockslide in June 1956 that destroyed most of Niagara
Mohawk Power Corp.s Schoellkopf hydroelectric plant on the Niagara River. With
Western New York industries facing a power emergency, Congress in 1957 designated the
Power Authority to build the new project.
Moses again presided over an all-out construction effort. As hed promised,
electricity production began in February 1961less than three years after the start
of work on what was then the Western Worlds largest hydro project and is still New
Yorks largest power source.
During the 1970s, the Power Authority went on to build a pumped storage hydroelectric
project in Schoharie County, a nuclear plant in Oswego County and a 155-mile transmission
line from the Quebec border to Central New York. With the Consolidated Edison Co. in
financial crisis, NYPA responded to a legislative mandate to buy a nuclear plant in
Westchester County and an oil-fueled plant in New York City from the utility and to
complete their construction.
Its role as a major statewide power supplier secured, NYPA during the 80s and
90s built the 207-mile Marcy-South transmission line, extending the Quebec link to
downstate New York; helped to meet Long Islands growing energy needs by installing a
transmission cable under Long Island Sound and building an efficient natural gas-fueled
power plant in Holtsville; and completed five small hydroelectric facilities. It also
launched an ambitious series of energy-efficiency programs at public facilities, efforts
that now save New York taxpayers nearly $70 million a year through reduced energy costs.
Anticipating the changing needs of the competitive era, the Power Authority last year
sold its two nuclear plants to Entergy Corp. for a record $967 million. The sale has
enabled NYPA to focus its resources on its remaining generation and transmission
facilities, including the two large hydroelectric projects where its operating history
began. This fall, it will apply for a new federal license for the St. Lawrence-FDR
project, where the current license expires in 2003. It is preparing for the relicensing of
Niagara, where the license runs through 2007. And it is investing more than half a billion
dollars in upgrades that will permit the two facilities to operate at peak efficiency far
into the future.