St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project Relicensing

On October 22, 2003, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted to issue a new 50-year license for NYPA to continue to operate the St. Lawrence-FDR project. This license reflects the terms of NYPA’s license application, filed with FERC on October 31, 2001, and settlement agreements reached between NYPA and relicensing stakeholders, filed with FERC on February 6, 2003.

Since the license was issued, NYPA has been working to implement environmental and recreational projects for the benefit of shoreline and host communities.

The Power Authority's first hydroelectric generating facility: The St. Lawrence-Franklin Delano Roosevelt Power Project

Spanning the U.S.-Canadian border at Massena, N.Y., is an international hydroelectric facility that produces some of the cleanest, lowest cost electricity in North America. The U.S. portion of the facility is the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project. On the Canadian side is the Robert H. Saunders Generating Station.

The heart of this project, which generated first power in 1958, is the Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam, built cooperatively by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Ontario Hydro (now known as Ontario Power Generation). The dam's 32 turbine-generators are divided equally by the international border and are operated independently by the two utilities. The Power Authority's 16 generating units can produce 800,000 kilowatts of electricity, more than enough to light a city the size of Washington, D.C. Forty years after St. Lawrence-FDR produced its first power, NYPA began an ambitious 15-year Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) Program. Most of the original equipment in the powerhouse of the Robert Moses Power Dam was replaced or renovated under the $281 million LEM, which will assure the project’s continued efficient and reliable operation for decades to come.

The St. Lawrence-FDR project is much more than its power dam. The entire project stretches over the St. Lawrence River Valley for more than 30 miles. It includes two control structures—the Iroquois and Long Sault dams—upstream, along with almost 11 miles of dikes that help form Lake St. Lawrence. And we've built thousands of acres of public parkland along the river for recreational enjoyment and wildlife preservation. We also have a visitors center located at Hawkins Point, which has an outstanding view of the Moses-Saunders Power Dam.

The economic benefits of St. Lawrence-FDR are far-reaching. Its low-cost power, under a statutorily authorized program known as Preservation Power, is essential to protecting hundreds of aluminum production jobs at Alcoa’s Massena operations. Other Northern New York allottees of the project's power are Upstate Niagara Cooperative, in North Lawrence; Florelle Tissue Corp., in Brownville; Corning, in Canton, and St. Lawrence Zinc Co., in Gouverneur.

In December 2014, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation that allows proceeds from the sale of a block of up to 20 megawatts of hydropower to be used for economic development in St. Lawrence County.

The original 50-year license for NYPA’s St. Lawrence-FDR project was issued in 1953 by the Federal Power Commission. Today, the duties of this commission, which include the issuing of new licenses for hydropower projects across the nation, are handled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Besides a new federal license, NYPA must also apply to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for a Water Quality Certificate.

FERC voted Wed., Oct. 22, 2003 to issue a new 50-year license for NYPA to continue to operate the St. Lawrence-FDR project. The New York Power Authority trustees accepted the FERC license.

Background:
The Power Authority officially began its relicensing effort for St. Lawrence-FDR in 1996 with the introduction of a more open and inclusive approach, known as the Cooperative Consultation Process. As part of this new approach, the Power Authority solicited input from all interested parties including local municipalities, legislators, industries, labor unions, environmental groups, state and federal regulatory agencies, the St. Regis Mohawk tribe and other local residents. Members of this cooperative team met regularly, and a range of issues and concerns were identified and addressed as part of the process. The end result, which drew wide support throughout the North Country, was a license application that balanced the region’s economic and environmental considerations with NYPA’s statewide commitment to continue providing reliable supplies of clean, low-cost hydroelectricity.

With NYPA’s October 31, 2001, filing of its application, most of the relicensing activity switched to FERC’s Washington, D.C., offices, where staff members followed specific procedures to review the license application. FERC sought public comments on NYPA's application through various public notices as well as the release of a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). After FERC completed these steps and dealt with any comments it received, it issued a Final EIS and the new license.

The application may be viewed at libraries in Lisbon, Massena and Waddington, at the Akwesasne Cultural Center in Hogansburg and at the Public Information Library at the St. Lawrence-FDR project.

The Towns of Massena, Louisville and Waddington, in collaboration with the New York Power Authority (NYPA), have announced the Adjoining Landowner Stabilization Program, for St. Lawrence River shoreline properties at the boundary of NYPA’s St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project.

The Adjoining Landowner Stabilization Board (ALSB) will administer the program, with funding from NYPA. The board consists of representatives of the three towns and the Power Authority.  Representing the Town of Massena is Eric Sharlow the Town of Louisville, Larry Legault; and the Town of Waddington, Jane Lawrence.  The ALSB has held public information meetings in Louisville.

The program is part of a new federal license issued for the St. Lawrence–FDR Project in 2003, and agreed to by the Local Government Task Force, which represented municipal interests during the license process.

Landowners abutting the St. Lawrence-FDR Project boundary may submit an application to the ALSB for funding for shoreline stabilization work. The ALSB will review and approve applications totaling up to $125,000, which the board has available each year. Applications not approved will be considered in a future year. The program is planned to be in place for eight to 10 years.

 

As part of the relicensing agreement, NYPA created The St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund (SLRREF) to support environmental research and environmental education projects relating to the ecology of the St. Lawrence River watershed.

 

Current SLRREF Projects

 Year Project Organization Description SLRREF Contribution  Other Funding Project Total
 2015 Educating Landowners & the Community about the Benefits and Costs of Conservation Easements St. Lawrence Land Trust Develop materials and presentations to environmental entities, town boards, local professional organizations and the public on conservation easements, tax liabilities and benefits, land owners rights and responsibilities and public benefits.  $6,500 $8,250 $14,570
 2015 Preserve Stewardship Volunteer Program Expansion Thousand Islands Land Trust Broaden the capacity and scope of this volunteer program and expand learning opportunities for volunteers.  $7,050 $26,730 $33,780
 2015 “TSI NIIOHAHÒ:TEN” Choosing our Path Friends of the Akwesasne Freedom School, Inc. Provide high school students with on the job training opportunities and apprenticeships with fluent speaking community members who practice traditional skills and work for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Cultural Restoration Program. $15,000  $10,000 $25,000
 2016 Detecting Populations of Blanding's Turtle Using Environmental DNA Clarkson University  The project will test a new survey method which detects the presence of a species from trace DNA to determine whether it's a viable way to track populations of the rare Blanding's Turtle.  $15,000 $15,000 $30,000
 2016 Engaging Citizens in Monitoring the Grasse River St. Lawrence University's Nature Up North Program Local groups will join research scientists in regular water quality testing to measure temperature, turbidity, conductivity, nutrient inputs, bacteria, and macroinvertebrate diversity  $14,778 $8,611  $23,389

 

To see Project Reports from prior years, search for "SLRREF Project Report" in the document library.

For more info please contact Karen.White@nypa.gov

For info on FERC visit ferc.gov

For info on DEC visit dec.ny.gov