NYPA Reaches Three-Quarters Milestone in St. Lawrence-FDR Life Extension and Modernization Program

Paul DeMichele

February 3, 2010


MASSENA—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) continues to forge ahead on its Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) Program at the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project. NYPA has completed work on the 12th of 16 turbine-generators to undergo refurbishing as part of a $281 million initiative for ensuring that the hydroelectric project, the source of some of the least cost electricity in the country, remains a bulwark for Northern New York’s economy for decades to come.

“The Life Extension and Modernization Program at the St. Lawrence-FDR project is part of our responsible stewardship of this vital generating facility, whose low-cost electricity is a tremendous asset to the North Country,” Richard M. Kessel, NYPA president and chief executive officer, said. “The recent start of work on another turbine-generator keeps us on track to complete the overall initiative by 2013. I want to congratulate our LEM project team, including the St. Lawrence-FDR work force, for its dedication and professionalism in advancing this effort, which has also been supported by our employees at other facilities.”

“This has been an outstanding team effort, not the least because it’s been undertaken while the St. Lawrence-FDR work force is also attending to the daily operations of running a major power project,” Eugene L. Nicandri, a NYPA trustee and resident of Massena, said. “It would be difficult to overstate the importance of this facility, whose low-cost power has been the lifeblood of Massena industries for decades. And although the North County is experiencing tough economic times, it is gratifying to know that this generating project stands ready to help the region regain its footing.”

The refurbishing of the 13th turbine, which began immediately after the completion of the 12th, is expected to be completed by August of this year.

The Power Authority began the St. Lawrence LEM program in 1998 to replace or renovate the original major generating equipment in the power project and improve the overall performance flexibility and efficiency of the facility, which has operated continuously since 1958.

The work has required a highly coordinated effort involving nine major component manufacturers in achieving numerous installation milestones. Among the most significant activities has been the disassembly and removal of the turbines, the major component of the turbine-generator units, and the renovation of their turbine-pit locations to facilitate the installation of the refurbished units.       

Alstom Hydro USA, a global supplier of equipment and services for power generation and other industries, was awarded two independent contracts—one in 1998 and the other in 2004—to manufacture all 16 replacement turbines. The turbines are of two different designs, corresponding with the original equipment manufactured by Baldwin Lima Hamilton (BLH) and Allis Chalmers (AC). 

At the time of St. Lawrence-FDR’s construction more than 50 years ago, no single manufacturer could meet the ambitious schedule for supplying the turbines. The responsibility was evenly divided between BLH and AC. Since 2007, the LEM program has centered on the AC turbines, following the replacement of the eight BLH units.

Among the design advances in the replacement turbines is a more efficient shape for harnessing available water from the St. Lawrence River to generate power. The new turbines also use stainless steel instead of the carbon steel composite of the original equipment. Stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion and requires less maintenance, which will contribute to extending the life of the hydroelectric project.

Other elements of the LEM have included generator rewinding, installation of new switchgear, replacement transformers, and modernization of protection and control systems. 

When possible, the Power Authority has contracted with local businesses for different facets of the work, including rotor performance tests, electrical tie-ins and mechanical work. This has included companies in Massena, Ogdensburg, Canton, Gouverneur and Potsdam.

Over the decades of its operation, the St. Lawrence-FDR project has produced more than 340 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 almost 175 million tons of greenhouse gases from fossil-fueled plants, avoiding the need for roughly 550 million barrels of oil.

The 800,000-kilowatt project’s largest customer is Alcoa in Massena, with more than half of the facility’s generating output reserved under state law for businesses in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Franklin counties. The facility also helps to lower the electric bills of upstate residents.

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.


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