N.Y. Power Authority and Ontario
Power Generation Mark 50 Years of Power Production at St. Lawrence
June 24, 2008
MASSENA—Fifty years of harnessing the St. Lawrence
River for clean, low-cost and reliable electricity were commemorated
Tuesday by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) with a daylong series
of celebrations highlighted by the rededication of the International
Officials from Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
joined the Power Authority for the ceremony at the monument, which
is at the midpoint of the Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam,
which crosses the St. Lawrence River between Massena, N.Y., and
The monument was first unveiled at the
Moses-Saunders Dam on June 27, 1959—about a year after power
production began—in a dedication ceremony attended by Queen
Elizabeth II and Vice President Richard M. Nixon. It stands 60 feet
high, in a rectangular bay about 130 feet long by 25 feet wide, on
the downstream side of the dam.
“Fifty years ago next month, power flowed for the
first time from this magnificent dam that spans the border between
our two nations,” said Frank S. McCullough, Jr., NYPA chairman. “The
International Rapids that once raged here had been tamed, and a vast
power project created through a remarkable cooperative effort by
Ontario Hydro and the Power Authority. The cooperative spirit and
deep respect that marked the power project’s construction continue
to this day.”
“We are here today to mark the first commercial
power at this international facility, along with the 50 years of
accomplishment that followed,” said Roger B. Kelley, NYPA president
and chief executive officer. “The shared power dam is indicative of
the harmony and goodwill between the U.S. and Canada, as embodied by
the International Friendship Monument, which has been refurbished
for this joyful occasion.”
“We are pleased to be partnering with the New York
Power Authority in rededicating this important symbol of cooperation
between our two organizations,” Pierre Charlebois, chief operating
officer, Ontario Power Generation, said. “OPG and our predecessor
company—Ontario Hydro—have worked together with the Power Authority
for more than half a century to provide electricity to the people of
Ontario and New York State. Today’s event is yet another example of
this partnership—a partnership which has served our two great
countries well for many years and will continue to do so for many
years to come.”
The ceremonies were part of a daylong series of
events marking the 50th anniversary of power production at the St.
Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, including a breakfast
with the power plant employees, a luncheon with local officials and
a community celebration featuring a live concert and fireworks.
The morning event celebrated the close ties between
the U.S. and Canada that made the power dam possible and that have
supported its successful operation. The St. Lawrence-Franklin D.
Roosevelt Power Project is the Power Authority section of the
The community celebration was held at the St.
Lawrence-FDR project visitors center at Hawkins Point, where the
public was treated to free ice cream. Northern Symphonic Winds, a
wind and percussion ensemble from the Crane School of Music, at the
State University of New York at Potsdam, performed various
compositions, including Morton Gould’s St. Lawrence Suite, which
premiered on Sept. 5, 1958, in a celebration marking the first power
at the Moses-Saunders Power Dam.
The power dam is made up of two
16-turbine-generator sections operated independently by NYPA and OPG,
with the dam extending 3,200 feet across the St. Lawrence River, or
the length of nearly 11 football fields. The Power Authority portion
of the dam—the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power
Project—began generating power on July 17, 1958.
St. Lawrence-FDR Project: NYPA’s First Generating Facility
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 Power
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 for
shipping, construction would not begin for another two decades.
In October, 1952, the International Joint
Commission granted permits to the U.S. and Canada, with the
remaining requirements for construction then 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. First power occurred less than four
years after the groundbreaking, with full power flowing on both
sides of the border in 1959.
Over the decades that followed, the St.
Lawrence-FDR project has served as a mainstay of clean, low-cost and
reliable electricity, producing some 335 billion kilowatt hours of
electricity, which would be sufficient power to meet electricity
demand in the U.S. for one month. The project has also prevented
emissions of about 175 million tons of greenhouse gases from
fossil-fueled plants, avoiding the need for roughly 580 million
barrels of oil.
In October 2003, the Power Authority received a new
50-year federal license for the St. Lawrence-FDR project, 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 program scheduled to run through 2013.
The St. Lawrence-FDR project has long served as a
mainstay for Massena’s aluminum industry. 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.
The 800,000-kilowatt NYPA hydroelectric project
also helps to lower the electric bills of upstate residents and
■ 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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