A Major Hydro Power Plant Along Lower Niagara River to be Modernized for the 21st Century
News from the New York Power Authority
Posted August 1st, 2019 on Niagara At Large
(A Brief Foreword Note from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper – At a time of climate emergency this announcement from our New York neighbours is great news for all of us. Hydro power, while one of the oldest sources of energy), is still one of the cleanest and greenest, not to mention one of the safest, energy sources around.
So I say thank you to New York State for making this wise investment for our future.)
One of the Largest Capital Projects in New York’s History Directly Supports 200,000 Jobs and $17 Billion in Capital Investments
Modernizing New York’s Largest Clean Energy Producer to Help New York Achieve Carbon Neutrality and Clean Energy Goals
Niagara Power Project Supplies 10 Percent of New York State’s Energy
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today (this July 31st, 2019 announced that the New York Power Authority is launching a 15-year modernization and digitization program to significantly extend the operating life of the Niagara Power Project, the largest source of clean electricity in New York State and one of the country’s largest hydroelectric projects.
The life extension and modernization program, called “Next Generation Niagara,” centers on the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the Niagara project’s main generating facility. NYPA plans to invest $1.1 billion in the project, making it one of the most ambitious recent infrastructure endeavors in the state.
Next Generation Niagara will help realize Governor Cuomo’s aggressive clean energy goals for transitioning the state to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 and serve as a grounding force for the forward-looking provisions in the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which Governor Cuomo recently signed into law.
“The Niagara Power Project is New York’s largest source of clean electricity and this modernization project will allow it to continue operating for another 50 years,” Governor Cuomo said.
“This extraordinary investment is a crucial part of our nation-leading plan to decarbonize New York’s electric power system by 2040 and will continue supplying job-producing companies across the state with clean, low-cost energy.”
“This significant investment, one of the largest capital projects in state history, will continue operations of the historic Niagara Power Project,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This project will support hundreds of thousands of jobs, and advance our aggressive clean energy goals. The modernization of our state’s largest power plant continues our efforts to combat climate change and ensure a cleaner and greener environment now and for the future.”
The improvements will include replacing aging equipment with the latest machinery reflecting advanced digital technologies for optimizing the hydroelectric project’s performance.
The project will secure the plant’s long-term future as a clean power generator that spurs economic development in Western New York and across the state through its low-cost power allocation programs, including Governor Cuomo’s ReChargeNY program.
The Niagara Project, through these programs, directly supports more than 200,000 jobs and $17 billion in capital investments. Next Generation Niagara also will support an estimated 60 union construction jobs over the course of the project.
NYPA’s Board of Trustees approved the major capital investment in the Niagara project, which began operating in 1961, at its July 30 meeting. The $1.1 billion investment makes Next Generation Niagara the largest capital project in NYPA’s history.
The initiative will encompass four major phases that will ensure continued safe, reliable operation for decades to come and will modernize NYPA’s flagship plant as the Power Authority advances its goal to become the nation’s first end-to-end digital utility.
The four phases include a comprehensive inspection of the Robert Moses plant’s penstocks; refurbishing the 630-ton crane that enables mechanical work at the plant; upgrading and digitizing the control systems; and building a new back-up control room and replacing mechanical parts that have reached the end of their operating life. Work is set to begin later this year.
NYPA Chairman John R. Koelmel said, “As the name Next Generation Niagara suggests, NYPA is looking to ensure that the Niagara Power Project’s clean low-cost power continues to power New York’s clean energy economy well into the future. This project is a natural extension of the careful stewardship NYPA provides to all of our generation and transmission assets statewide and our commitment to supporting Governor Cuomo’s vision of a carbon-free future for New York State.”
NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said, “Next Generation Niagara is the largest and most comprehensive modernization and digitization project ever undertaken by NYPA. The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant is a major piece of New York’s existing renewable electricity capacity, and we are committed to playing a leadership role by sustaining and growing the amount of carbon-free electricity we provide to our great state.”
Senator Kevin S. Parker, Senate Energy Committee Chair said, “Governor Cuomo’s plan to extend the operating life of the Niagara Power Project will increase our clean energy sources and create additional green-collar job opportunities for New Yorkers. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s commitment to combating climate change and ensuring a clean energy future for New York State.”
Senator Robert Ortt said, “This Niagara Power Project is the largest source of renewable and clean energy in the entire state and is a resource we should continue to maximize. If we are to make the most of this unique natural resource located in our region, we must invest in the Niagara Power Projects facilities and upgrade its equipment so that we may continue to capitalize on the clean and reliable power produced by the falls. This proposed investment of $1.1 billion will see the life of the Niagara Power Project extended for decades to come and with it – major benefits across our region.”
Assembly Member Angelo Morinello said, “Thank you Governor Cuomo and NYPA for your vision to invest in the Niagara Power Project so it can continue to serve as a leader in clean renewable energy and a model for the world. The Niagara Power Project will produce clean energy without leaving any carbon footprint using the natural resource God has given us.”
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, “The birthplace of clean, hydroelectric power, the Niagara Power Project has set the standard as one of the leading power plants in the nation. Under the Governor’s leadership and commitment to the natural environment, the Niagara Power Project will continue to lead the way in harnessing green, renewable resources and serve as a shining example to others worldwide that the critical goals set forth in the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard are not only achievable, but truly possible.”
NYPA also owns and operates approximately one-third of New York’s high-voltage power lines. These lines transmit power from NYPA’s three large hydroelectric generation facilities, including its flagship Niagara plant, and from wind power generation facilities, connecting nearly 7,000 megawatts of renewable energy to New York State’s power grid. This includes more than 6,200 megawatts of hydropower and approximately 700 megawatts, or more than a third, of New York State-generated wind energy to the grid.
About the Niagara Power Project
Following the collapse of Niagara Mohawk’s Schoellkopf Power Station in 1956, and the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs in the Niagara region and nearly 25 percent of the city’s tax base, the Federal Power Commission issued a license in 1957 to the New York Power Authority to redevelop Niagara Falls’ hydroelectric power.
The Power Authority employed 11,700 workers and within three years, 12 million cubic yards of rock were excavated. The herculean effort led to the construction of a massive main structure that is 1,840 feet long, 580 feet wide and 384 feet high. When the Niagara Power Project produced its first power in 1961, it was the largest hydropower facility in the Western world and President John F. Kennedy called it “an example to the world of North American efficiency and determination.” After 60 years of operation and its obtaining a new 50-year federal operating license in 2007, the Niagara Power Project remains the crown jewel of New York’s power infrastructure.
NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the nation, operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 70 percent of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower. 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.
New York State’s Green New Deal
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal is the most aggressive climate change program in the nation and puts the state on a path to being entirely carbon-neutral across all sectors of the economy, including power generation, transportation, buildings, industry and agriculture.
The Governor’s program also establishes a goal to achieve a zero-carbon emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any state in the nation.
The recently passed Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates several of the Governor’s ambitious Green New Deal clean energy targets: installing nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035; six gigawatts of distributed solar by 2025 and three gigawatts of energy storage by 2030.
The CLCPA also calls for an orderly and just transition to clean energy, creating jobs while spurring a green economy. It builds on New York’s unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $2.9 billion investment in 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector and 1,700% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2012.
The CLCPA also directs New York State’s agencies and authorities to work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% from 1990 levels by 2050, and to work toward a goal of investing 40 percent of clean energy and energy efficiency resources to benefit disadvantaged communities.
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