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NYPA awards contracts for Lewiston pumped-storage hydro plant upgrades

New York Power Authority 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 240-MW Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant (LPGP).

The Lewiston pumped-storage hydro plant is the auxiliary facility of 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 under way at LPGP late next year.

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.

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