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Low-Cost Niagara Hydropower to Support Niagara Falls Factory’s Manufacture of Body Armor for U.S. Soldiers

Michael Saltzman

January 30, 2007


WHITE PLAINS—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) trustees Tuesday approved an allocation of low-cost hydropower to support the manufacture by Saint-Gobain Ceramics, in Niagara Falls, of various ceramic products, including armor materials for protecting U.S. soldiers.

“I can think of nothing more imperative than protecting our brave men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan from the dangerous conditions they face everyday,” said Timothy S. Carey, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “These body-armor materials can mean the difference between life and death, so we’re proud to be making our hydropower available for their manufacture by Saint-Gobain and protecting our soldiers.”

Saint-Gobain will receive an allocation of 1,400 kilowatts (kw) at one of its two manufacturing facilities in Niagara Falls for the production of silicon-carbide plates for body vests. The company is investing nearly $3 million toward equipment required in the production of these various ceramic components, and will add 18 new jobs to a current workforce of 164 at the facility where the new machinery is being installed.

“The possibility of low-cost hydropower was a critical factor in obtaining project approval from corporate headquarters for this important expansion. The approval of this allocation is key to the cost effectiveness of our group within Saint-Gobain, and is vital to our continued growth,” said Ed Asbach, manager, Facilities & Capital Engineering, Saint-Gobain Ceramics, Niagara Falls. “We’re excited about the expanded opportunities to manufacture armor plates for military use, electronics, chemical processing components and the other opportunities available to serve our customers with silicon carbide Hexoloy® products. Our sincere thanks to NYPA for supporting this endeavor.”

The hydropower allocated Tuesday will be drawn from a block of 445,000-kw of Niagara power called replacement power. Saint-Gobain’s plants in Niagara Falls have received earlier allocations of replacement power totaling 3,750 kw, in support of millions of dollars in capital investments and job growth.

Replacement power and expansion power, another block of Niagara hydropower reserved for economic development in Western New York, account for 695,000 kw, or more than one-quarter of the Niagara project’s net dependable capacity of 2,400,000 kw. The project’s power is the lowest cost in New York State.

The Western New York Advisory Group, consisting of the Power Authority, National Grid, Empire State Development Corp., the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, and the Niagara County Department of Economic Development, recommends the industrial allocations from the Niagara project. The process provides for allocations of available Niagara power on a continuous basis in accordance with a 2003 Memorandum of Understanding, renewed last year.

 About NYPA:

 ■    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.  ■    NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.  ■    It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.