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Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Project Ready for Peak Summer Demand Following Upgrade of Generating Unit

Steve Ramsey
1-800 724-0309 

June 1, 2007                                                                     


NORTH BLENHEIM—The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Project is ready for the peak-demand summer season, following the completion of work on the first of four pump-turbine generating units to undergo upgrades at the hydroelectric project as part of a multiyear Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) program.

“The completion of the work on the first generating unit means that the Blenheim-Gilboa project can be relied upon to operate at full power this summer for meeting the electricity requirements of Power Authority customers,” said Frank S. McCullough Jr., NYPA chairman. “That’s significant, considering the increased demand for power during the warm-weather months and the vital role this hydroelectric project plays for providing economical and reliable power."

The newly refurbished generating unit resumed operation on May 24 after being out of service since late September 2006. Blenheim-Gilboa’s three other pump-turbine generators operated most of that time, except for a six-week period when it was necessary to shut down the 1,040,000-kilowatt project to facilitate the work. This included reducing the water levels in the facility’s upper reservoir for replacement of a spherical valve on the refurbished unit. The valve controls the flow of water into the project powerhouse. 

“A pivotal consideration throughout this effort was to return the refurbished generating unit to service before summer, when electricity demand is highest, and that’s what we did,” said Allen Schriver, NYPA regional manager, Central New York. “This was a tremendous effort involving highly skilled engineers and other professionals who managed a difficult undertaking, involving replacement of major mechanical and electrical components.” 

In September, the Power Authority will commence work on a second pump-turbine generator, with that unit slated to be returned to service the following June in a repetition of a schedule similar to the first unit. The work on the other two pump generating units will be undertaken in the same manner over successive years, with the LEM program completed in June 2010.  

The Blenheim-Gilboa project, which began operation in 1973, recycles water between lower and upper reservoirs, for a pumping-generating cycle for providing economical power during times of peak demand. At night and on weekends, when demand is lower, water is pumped to the upper reservoir, atop Brown Mountain, using the least cost electricity available from other sources. During periods of greatest consumer demand when alternate sources are more expensive, water is released from the upper reservoir, plunging 1,200 feet, to power the dual-function, pump turbine-generators and then flows into a lower reservoir on Schoharie Creek.  

The $135 million upgrade will allow Blenheim-Gilboa to produce more power from the same amount of water while extending the facility’s record of reliable service for decades ahead.  

Last December, NYPA, whose hydroelectric facilities account for about 75 percent of the statewide public power utility’s total generating output, completed a 15-year upgrade of its Niagara Power Project, near Niagara Falls, to enhance the efficiency of the project’s main generating facility and extend its operating life. The Power Authority is also conducting a Life Extension and Modernization program at its St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Project in Massena, with that initiative expected to be completed by 2013.  

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  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.

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