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New York Power Authority's Blenheim-Gilboa Project Resumes Power Production

Steve Ramsey

November 9, 2007 


GILBOA—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) returned its Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project to service on Nov. 6—a week ahead of schedule—following the completion of preliminary work for upgrading one of the project’s four pump-turbine generating units.  

The upgrade is part of a four-year Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) Program for replacement of major mechanical and electrical components of the generating units, and maintenance and repairs of virtually all other parts.   

“The Blenheim-Gilboa project has been a significant part of the New York Power Authority’s clean energy portfolio since 1973,” said Roger B. Kelley, NYPA president and chief executive officer.  “The Life Extension and Modernization Program that our project engineering team is spearheading will maximize the efficiency of this key hydroelectric facility, while helping to ensure its long-term value as a source of reliable, economical electricity for the people of New York State.” 

Three of the four pump-turbine generating units resumed power production after the Power Authority refilled the project’s upper reservoir atop Brown Mountain. The reservoir had been drained to permit replacement of a spherical valve that controls the flow of water into the powerhouse.  The project had been shut down since Sept. 21. The pump-turbine unit currently being upgraded is scheduled to be returned to service by June 2008 in time for the peak summer demand season, when the Blenheim-Gilboa project’s full generating output is most crucial.

 This is the second pump-turbine generator to undergo refurbishing. Last year, the Power Authority completed work on the first unit under a similar work schedule. The temporary shutdown of the facility in September 2006 to replace a spherical valve was followed by the return to service of three of four pump-turbine generators several weeks later and the fourth unit in late May. The work on the remaining two pump-turbine generators will be undertaken in the same manner over successive years, with the $135 million LEM program scheduled to be completed in June 2010.

The Blenheim-Gilboa project is a special type of hydroelectric project that operates like a giant storage battery.  During peak demand periods, when alternate sources of electricity are more expensive, thousands of gallons of water are released from the upper reservoir, plunging 1,043 feet within Brown Mountain to power the pump-turbine generators, before flowing into a lower reservoir on Schoharie Creek.  At night and on weekends, when demand is lower, the pump-turbine generators are reversed and water is pumped back to the upper reservoir, using economical electricity from other sources.

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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