New York Power Auhority logo




Power Authority Completes Upgrades on Generating Unit at Its Blenheim-Gilboa Project in Time for Peak-Demand Season

Steve Ramsey

June 3, 2008


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

The current LEM program marks the first time the project has been refurbished since it went into service in 1973. 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. 

“The extraordinary effort of those working on the Blenheim-Gilboa upgrade is clearly shown by their prompt completion of the latest phase of the LEM in time for the peak-demand summer season,” said Roger B. Kelley, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “The installation of the four new pump-turbines and modifications to other equipment will ensure that this project operates at the highest efficiency, furthering the vital role that the facility plays for reliable, clean and economical electricity for New York State.” 

The newly refurbished generating unit resumed operation on June 1 after being out of service since mid-September 2007. Despite the challenges of some delayed equipment deliveries, NYPA workers were able to complete the upgrade on schedule. 

The three other pump-turbine generators at the Blenheim-Gilboa project operated most of that time, except for a seven-week period when it was necessary to shut down the 1,040,000-kilowatt project to facilitate the work. During that time the water level in the facility’s upper reservoir was reduced in order to accomplish the replacement of a spherical valve on the refurbished unit. The valve controls the flow of water into the project powerhouse.

In September, the Power Authority will commence work on a third pump-turbine generator, with that unit slated to be returned to service in June 2009 following a schedule used for the first two units. The work on the final pump generating unit will be undertaken in the same manner the following year, with the LEM program scheduled for completion in June 2010.   

The Blenheim-Gilboa project moves water between its lower and upper reservoirs, for a pumping-generating cycle that provides 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, 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.   

NYPA is currently conducting a LEM program at its St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Project in Massena, with that initiative expected to be completed by 2013. It also completed a 15-year upgrade of its Niagara Power Project, near Niagara Falls, in late 2006 to enhance the efficiency of the project’s main generating facility and extend its operating life. 

The Power Authority’s hydroelectric facilities account for about 75 percent of the statewide public power utility's total generating output. 

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.  ■   For more information, please go to

Return to Press Center