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Overhaul planned for Lewiston hydro plant in Niagara hydropower project

The New York Power Authority announced it is planning a major overhaul of the 2,755-MW Niagara Power Project’s Lewiston Pump Generating-Plant to extend the life of the hydroelectric project’s auxiliary facility and enhance its performance.

The Power Authority Board of Trustees approved a $460 million Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) Program for the 240-MW LPGP facility, which operates during periods of peak power demand in supplementing the electricity output of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the Niagara Project’s main generating facility. The trustees also authorized initial capital expenditures of $131 million for the upgrade and the award of a 10-year contract to Hitachi Power Systems America of Basking Ridge, N.J., which was the lowest-cost qualified bidder for replacing and modifying major components of LPGP’s pump-turbine generators.

“The Lewiston Pump Generating Plant is a key part of the Niagara project in its providing of supplemental generation when the power production is needed the most,” said Michael J. Townsend, NYPA chairman. “The Life Extension and Modernization Program approved by the Power Authority board will ensure that the LPGP facility continues to be a workhorse in the Niagara project’s harnessing of the available water from the Niagara River to produce low-cost electricity for Western New York and various customer groups, as provided for under state law.”

The New York Power Authority recently marked the completion of a nearly four-year overhaul of its Blenheim-Gilboa pumped-storage hydro project.

In 2006, NYPA completed a $24 million maintenance program at LPGP in the same year that it finished a $298 million, 15-year program to upgrade the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, where the Power Authority replaced turbines and retrofitted other components of all 13 generating units. The LEM at the pump generating plant will be an undertaking of similar scope, for overhaul of the plant’s 12 pump turbine generator units, which date back to 1961, when the Niagara project was first placed into service. The work will include replacing the turbine runners, the rotating portion of the equipment. The runners, which typically weigh about 75 tons, transfer energy from the water flow to the generators.

The upgrade will begin in late 2012 under a schedule providing for the overhaul of a turbine generator unit every eight to nine months, with the final unit completed in 2020. The phase-in schedule provides for 11 of the 12 LPGP units to be available for operation during the LEM so that NYPA can meet its commitments to its customers.

In addition to extending the life of the pump generating plant, the refurbishing will lead to greater efficiencies, allowing the plant to generate additional power with the same amount of water.

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