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NYPA Marking 50th Anniversary of Niagara Construction Start: Program Planned for Power Vista

Lou Paonessa

March 24, 2008


LEWISTON—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) will mark the 50th anniversary of the start of construction of the Niagara Power Project with a special program at the Power Vista, the project’s admission-free visitors center, on Saturday, March 29.

Ken Glennon, an author who worked on project construction for Merritt-Chapman & Scott, a principal contractor, will recall his experiences in presentations at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the center’s Community Room. The program will be part of the Power Vista’s yearlong series of “Sensational Saturdays” events.

“The Niagara project was the largest hydroelectric development in the Western World when it was built and it stands today as the biggest electricity producer in New York State,” Roger B. Kelley, NYPA’s president and chief executive officer, said. “This is a fitting time to pay tribute to the men and women who built this magnificent source of clean, renewable and economical energy.”

Construction of the project began in earnest in March 1958. The extraordinary effort, which involved as many as 11,700 workers, led to the start of power production within three years, in January 1961, and to completion of the project by October 1962.

The 2,441-megawatt Niagara project today produces some of the nation’s least-expensive electricity, with allocations to businesses in Western New York helping to protect about 45,000 jobs. The project, which itself employs more than 300 workers, also supplies low- cost power to New York State’s 51 municipal electric systems and rural cooperatives and to three upstate utilities—National Grid, New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas and Electric—for resale to their residential consumers without profit.

On March 15, 2007, the Power Authority received a new 50-year federal operating license for the project, more than five months before the original license expired. Issuance of the new license followed an innovative process in which local communities, environmental groups and other interested parties participated from the outset.

Under a series of agreements resulting from the cooperative procedure, the Power Authority is providing various economic, environmental and recreational benefits on the Niagara Frontier, including: low-cost power allocations and payments to communities in the project area, the Tuscarora Nation and Niagara University; funding for improvements to the Buffalo waterfront; implementation of habitat improvement projects in the Niagara River Basin; and enhancements to facilities operated by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

In late 2006, NYPA completed a 15-year, $298 million upgrade of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the Niagara project’s main generating facility. The work, intended to ensure long-term efficient operation, entailed replacement of the turbines and improvements to the generators and other components of each of the plant’s 13 generating units. Extensive maintenance was also completed in 2006 at the project’s Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant, which supplements the Moses plant’s output at times of greatest use of electricity.

The Power Authority is currently carrying out an extensive refurbishing of the dam at the Moses plant.

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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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