NYPA Approves $7 Million In Contract Awards To Buffalo And Queens Firms: Contracts Support Power Authority’s Continued Efforts to Maintain and Upgrade its Niagara Power Project

Michael Saltzman

April 4, 2011


WHITE PLAINS—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel today announced the award of more than $7 million in contracts to firms in Buffalo and Queens as part of a planned major enhancement of NYPA’s Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant (LPGP), the auxiliary facility at the Niagara Power Project, which is marking 50 years of successful operation this year. 

The NYPA Board of Trustees last week approved three-year contracts with Ferguson Electric Construction Co. of Buffalo and Welsbach Electric Corp. of Queens in support of the Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) Program that is scheduled to get fully underway at LPGP late next year.  

“The Power Authority’s contract awards are part of the ramping up for the refurbishing of the Niagara Project’s Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant and demonstrate our continued commitment to maintaining the integrity of NYPA’s critical infrastructure,” Kessel said.  “The overhaul will contribute to maximizing the efficient operation of the Niagara Project to produce low-cost electricity for Western New York, including key businesses employing tens of thousands of people.  Our partnering with various New York-based contractors on the LPGP initiative will further advance the state’s economy in providing revenues for those businesses, with reliance on local union trades people in the disassembly and reassembly of equipment.”

Last June, the Power Authority trustees authorized initial capital expenditures of $131 million in their approval of the $460 million Life Extension and Modernization Program, which will increase the reliability and efficiency of the Lewiston pump-generating plant. The LPGP upgrade will be similar in scope to a LEM that NYPA completed in 2006 at the Niagara Project’s main generating facility—the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. Both initiatives reflect highly coordinated endeavors for replacing or renovating original major generating equipment for improving overall performance flexibility and efficiency.

A $4.05 million contract with Ferguson Electric provides for the company’s installation of four new generator step-up transformers (GSUs). The work will include the removal and disposal of the existing transformers, installation of new units procured under a separate contract, and structural repairs to the GSU containment pits and access hatches.

The main purpose of GSUs is to step up the voltage—the force or pressure that is applied for the efficient transmission of large amounts of electricity. 

Another contract was awarded to Welsbach Electric, for $2.96 million, for replacing existing transmission voltage terminations that connect underground cables to overhead lines. The work will include the disconnection, disposal and replacement of the existing terminations, pot-shaped insulating fittings connected to three 230-kilovolt lines.

The work by Ferguson Electric—the largest electrical contractor in Western New York—and Welsbach Electric will commence toward the end of this year and be undertaken in four phases for completion by the spring of 2013.   

Over a period extending to 2020, the Power Authority will overhaul LPGP’s 12 pump turbine generator units, which date back to 1961 when the Niagara project was first placed into service.  Under a phase-in schedule, a turbine generator unit will be overhauled every eight to nine months, with 11 of the 12 units available for operation throughout the LEM.  

Pump-storage facilities like the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant store water as potential energy during off-peak hours for later use when demand is higher. The principal benefits are retiming of generation and providing the ability to quickly respond to changes in customer demand.

LPGP and the Moses plant combine for a net dependable capability of 2,441 megawatts, making the Niagara Project the largest generating facility in New York State and one of the largest in the country.

LPGP is one of two major pumped storage facilities in New York State, with the other being the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project, another Power Authority facility.  Last May, NYPA completed a four-year overhaul of the-then 37-year-old facility, in the northern Catskills, enhancing its reliability and efficiency in the harnessing of stored water to produce economical power during times of peak electricity demand. 

The Power Authority is also continuing a multiyear LEM program at its St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, another hydroelectric facility, in Massena. That initiative, begun in 1998, is now more than 80 percent completed and scheduled to be concluded by 2013.  St. Lawrence-FDR marked its 50th year of operation in 2008.

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. ■ Approximately 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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