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NYPA Planning June 24 Festivities to Mark 50 Years of Power Production at St. Lawrence-FDR Project

Jill Chamberlain
315-764-0226, ext. 300
Michael Saltzman

June 17, 2008


MASSENA—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) today announced that ceremonies are planned for June 24 at its St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project marking 50 years of low-cost electricity at the 800,000-kilowatt (kw) facility, which has produced hundreds of billions of kilowatt hours for Massena industries, upstate residents, farms and other customers. 

“The St. Lawrence-FDR project—the New York Power Authority’s first generating facility—has been indispensable to the state’s electric power system and Northern New York’s economy for half a century,” said Frank S. McCullough, Jr., NYPA chairman. “Its operation is a testament to the vision and leadership of such luminaries as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Robert Moses and the dedication, hard work and sacrifice of the thousands of people who contributed to the construction of this marvelous facility. It is in recognition of those accomplishments that we’re looking forward to commemorating St. Lawrence-FDR’s first commercial power.” 

“Few generating facilities have been more important than the St. Lawrence-FDR project, which provides some of the least-cost electricity in the country,” said Roger B. Kelley, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “The Power Authority also built parks, beaches, campgrounds, wildlife refuges and other attractions, making St. Lawrence a model for hydroelectric development. It is a distinction being enhanced with additional recreational and environmental improvements under our successful relicensing of the project in 2003, along with other major NYPA commitments for area communities over the current 50-year license term.”

The events for the June 24 celebration are as follows:

EVENT:                       Breakfast celebration for St. Lawrence-FDR Project staff

TIME:                           8 a.m.

LOCATION:                   St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project
                                    830 Barnhart Island Rd.
                                    Massena, N.Y.

OPEN TO PRESS; CLOSED TO PUBLIC – there will be a check-in table for media by the Administration Building

EVENT:                      NYPA “Ceremony at the Dam” – Rededication of “Friendship Monument”

TIME:                          10 a.m.

LOCATION:                 St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project dam
                                  830 Barnhart Island Rd.
                                  Massena, N.Y.


EVENT:                      Picnic lunch for Trustees and local officials

TIME:                         1 p.m.

LOCATION:                 St. Lawrence-FDR Project Visitors Center
                                  21 Hawkins Point Rd.
                                  Massena, N.Y.


EVENT:                   Community Celebration: ice cream social, live music and fireworks

TIME:                       7 p.m. (fireworks after sundown)

LOCATION:              St. Lawrence-FDR Project Visitors Center
                               21 Hawkins Point Rd.
                               Massena, N.Y.



 A History of the New York Power Authority’s

St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project 

The St. Lawrence-FDR project, which began generating power on July 17, 1958, is part of an international project whose centerpiece is the Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam, which spans the St. Lawrence River between Massena and Cornwall, Ont. The dam’s 32 turbine-generators are divided equally by the international border, with the two sections operated independently by NYPA and Ontario Power Generation (OPG).  

The shared power dam is indicative of the harmony and goodwill between the U.S. and Canada, as embodied by the International Friendship Monument that was unveiled at the Moses-Saunders Dam on June 27, 1959, in a dedication ceremony attended by Queen Elizabeth II and Vice President Richard M. Nixon.  

The Power Authority’s founding and the St. Lawrence-FDR project are intertwined. In 1931, then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Power Authority Act for the Authority to develop the hydroelectric potential of the St. Lawrence River. Because of controversies concerning public-versus-private development, along with those over a companion Seaway project, construction would not begin for another two decades. 

In 1952, the International Joint Commission broke the logjam when it granted permits to the U.S. and Canada, with the remaining requirements for construction falling into place. 

The Power Authority obtained a federal license in 1953 to develop the U.S. share of the power dam, with construction beginning in August 1954 under Robert Moses, who had recently become the Power Authority’s chairman. Two other dams—control structures—and 16 miles of dikes were also built as part of the international project along with the creation of Lake St. Lawrence. 

First power occurred less than four years after the groundbreaking, with full power flowing on both sides of the border in 1959. This met an ambitious target set by Moses and his Ontario Hydro counterpart, Robert Saunders, for the project to be completed two years ahead of the original seven-year schedule. 

Over the decades that followed, St. Lawrence-FDR has served as a mainstay of clean, low-cost and reliable electricity. Its outstanding performance has included operating through major blackouts that affected other power plants.  

In October 2003, the Power Authority received a new 50-year federal license for St. Lawrence-FDR, leading to a host of new economic, environmental and recreational benefits to the region stemming from various agreements. 

The Power Authority’s stewardship of the facility has also included an ongoing Life Extension and Modernization Program. Nine of 16 turbine-generators have been refurbished, as part of a $281 million upgrade scheduled to run through 2013.

St. Lawrence-FDR has long served as a bulwark for Massena’s industries. Late last year, the Power Authority and Alcoa reached an agreement in principle for the aluminum manufacturer’s continued receipt of low-cost hydropower at its two Massena plants. In return the company will commit to retain at least 900 jobs over a 30-year contract term and invest approximately $600 million for a major modernization and overhaul of its Massena East smelter. 

So the St. Lawrence-FDR project will continue to be integral to Northern New York’s economy in the coming decades. The Power Authority and the North Country can look confidently to the future while pausing to celebrate the project’s first 50 years of operation.  

 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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