NYPA's Blenheim-Gilboa Project proceeds with the last phase of the facility's refurbishing: Pumped Storage Project is Returned to Service

Michael Saltzman
(914) 390-8181

November 16, 2009


NORTH BLENHEIM–New York Power Authority (NYPA) President Richard M. Kessel today announced that NYPA’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project was returned to service this month as part of a major overhaul that continues to progress. The work on the final phase of a $135-million Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) Program is expected to be completed by June 2010, in time for the peak-summer demand season. 

The hydroelectric project, in the northern Catskills, was returned to service following an outage to facilitate preliminary work on the last of four pump-turbine generators to undergo refurbishing.

"The equipment improvements at the Blenheim-Gilboa project will contribute to the continued efficiency and effectiveness of this key generating facility,” Kessel said. “Our engineering, site personnel and project management staffs have done a commendable job in their carrying out of the Life Extension and Modernization Program and keeping it on schedule and budget.  The work will maximize the electricity output from the water harnessed by the project and ensure that this clean generating facility continues to provide reliable service for decades ahead.”      

Three of four pump-turbine generating units were returned to service over the last two weeks following the project’s shutdown in mid-September to permit replacement of a spherical valve on the pump-turbine generating unit that is currently being refurbished. In order to replace the valve, which controls the flow of water into the pump-turbine generator, the water level in the project’s upper reservoir on top of Brown Mountain had to be lowered  The reservoir, on Kingsley Road in the Town of Gilboa, has since been refilled to its five-billion-gallon capacity.      

The Power Authority began the Blenheim-Gilboa LEM in September 2006 when the first of the four pump-turbine generating units was taken out of service for refurbishing. Since then, the process has been repeated three times, in the fall of 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Each of the refurbished generating units has a maximum capacity of approximately 290 megawatts (mw), compared to the replaced units that were rated at 260 mw.  At the conclusion of the LEM program, it is projected that Blenheim-Gilboa will be capable of producing a total of approximately 1,160 mw from the same amount of water. 

Blenheim-Gilboa, which went into service in 1973, is one of the nation’s largest pumped-storage power plants.  It is designed to operate like a giant storage battery, providing electricity at times when it is most needed.

In peak demand periods, usually during late afternoon or early evening, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are released from the upper reservoir.  The water plunges 1,200 feet within Brown Mountain to power the project’s four turbine-generators before flowing into a lower reservoir on the Schoharie Creek. At night and on weekends, when demand is lower, the water is pumped back to the upper reservoir, using surplus economical electricity from the most efficient sources.

Pumped-storage is a closed cycle.  The same water is used again except for that lost through natural evaporation. 

In addition to the LEM at Blenheim-Gilboa, the Power Authority is currently conducting a similar program at its St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in Massena, with that initiative expected to be completed by 2013. NYPA also completed a 15-year upgrade of its Niagara Power Project, near Niagara Falls, in late 2006.

About NYPA:

■ The New York Power Authority 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 public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ More than 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower.  Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. ■For more information, www.nypa.gov.

Return to Media Center