Successful Start to Second Half of Life Extension and Modernization Initiative at St. Lawrence-FDR Project

Connie Cullen

November 19, 2007


MASSENA—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has successfully returned to service the ninth turbine-generator unit to undergo life extension and modernization (LEM) work at its St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project here.  By being the first of eight turbine-generator units with an Allis Chalmers (A.C.) turbine to be replaced, and the ninth of 16 units to undergo the work, NYPA has successfully passed the halfway point in the LEM program. 

“Returning this unit to service on time and on budget is an outstanding testament to the professionalism and hard work of key Power Authority employees who have dedicated their efforts to ensuring the St. Lawrence-FDR project will continue its legacy of reliable and efficient power production well into the future,” said Roger B. Kelley, NYPA president and chief executive officer.  “Throughout nearly 50 years of continuous operation, this generating facility and its lower-cost clean hydropower have proven to be a valuable asset to the North Country economy and will continue to be for many years ahead thanks to this ongoing initiative.” 

In 1998, the Power Authority began the $281 million LEM program to replace or renovate the major generating equipment in the powerhouse of the St. Lawrence-FDR project’s Robert Moses Power Dam, with a scheduled completion date of 2013.  The first new turbine, the major component of the turbine-generator unit, was delivered on May 2, 2001 and went into service April 4, 2002. 

The Power Authority returned the recently refurbished turbine-generator unit, with its new turbine replacing the A.C. turbine, to service on Oct. 31.  NYPA earlier overhauled eight turbine-generator units each with turbines originally manufactured by Baldwin Lima Hamilton (BLH), the other company that provided turbines.  All the turbine-generator units were original machines dating back to the St. Lawrence-FDR project’s first commercial power in 1958.  Alstom USA, a global supplier of equipment and services for power generation and other industries, was awarded contracts to manufacture all 16 replacement turbines.   

The first A.C. unit was taken out of service on Feb. 1, 2007.  Over the ensuing nine months NYPA undertook a highly coordinated effort involving nine major component manufacturers in achieving numerous installation milestones.  Like the BLH units, the A.C. unit was disassembled and removed, and its location—the turbine pit in the power dam—was renovated to facilitate installation of the refurbished unit with its new Alstom USA turbine.  The unit’s heavy components and machinery were transported from the site for refurbishment and returned for installation in the turbine pit, with the new turbine that was delivered earlier. 

St. Lawrence-FDR personnel have been responsible for most of the LEM work.  One facet of the job, reconditioning the turbine wicket gates, is being done by staff at the Power Authority’s Frederick R. Clark Energy Center in Marcy. 

A contingent of New York, national and international manufacturers have been contracted to produce the components and machinery for the LEM due to many factors including the high demand worldwide for the types of raw materials used in the initiative, a fast-track work schedule to minimize outage times and the search for competitive pricing. 

The LEM program for the next A.C. unit, the 10th turbine-generator unit to be replaced, is scheduled for a seven-month outage duration that started earlier this month.  A reduction in work time, from nine to seven months for this unit, reflects efficiencies learned during the work on the initial A.C. unit and will carry over to the other remaining units to be replaced. 

Among the design advances in the replacement turbines is a more efficient shape so each refurbished unit will use less water to generate the same amount of power.  Also, the use of stainless steel, instead of carbon steel, makes the new turbines more resistant to wear and reduces required maintenance, contributing to extending the life of the power project. 

The Power Authority constructed St. Lawrence-FDR with the two different turbine designs, by A.C. and BLH, due to the pursuit of an aggressive schedule for completing the project in the late 1950s.  No one manufacturer could meet the timetable and supply all 16 units, so the job was split.  The turbine, which resembles the propeller of a power boat motor, is connected to a generator to form the turbine-generator unit.  Water rushing through the power dam turns the turbine-generators to produce electricity. 

 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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