The Power Authority Board of Trustees approved a $460M Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) Program for the 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 $131M for the upgrade and the award of a 10-year contract to Hitachi Power Systems America, which was the lowest-cost qualified bidder for replacing and modifying major components of LPGP’s pump-turbine generators.

“The Niagara Power Project is a tremendous asset to Western New York in providing some of the lowest cost electricity in the country, with its power production supporting tens of thousands of jobs on the Niagara Frontier,” President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel said, announcing the upgrade project. “The Power Authority places the highest priority on being a good steward of this facility to ensure it continues to bring the greatest value to the region’s economy and the state’s electric power system. The Life Extension and Modernization Program that we’re planning at the Lewiston Pump Generating-Plant is in keeping with this imperative, which also served as the basis for the Power Authority’s completion only a few years ago of a similar program at the Niagara Project’s Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.”

In 2006, NYPA completed a $24M maintenance program at LPGP in the same year that it finished a $298M, 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.

LPGP is one of two major pumped storage facilities in New York State – the other being the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project, another NYPA facility. In May, the Authority completed a four-year overhaul of that facility, in the northern Catskills.

The selection of Hitachi Power Systems America for replacing parts of the pump-turbine generators and associated equipment stemmed from a Request for Proposals that NYPA issued last December for the new equipment and rehabilitation work. The company, which was one of six bidders submitting proposals in response to the RFP, was awarded a $174M contract for carrying out the overhaul during the 2012 to 2020 time frame, with the contract amount including allowances for future inflation.

Hitachi was also the company that upgraded and rehabilitated the pump-turbine units at the Blenheim-Gilboa project.

Hitachi and other contractors are expected to utilize local union trades people, including machinists, electricians, mechanics and welders, in support of the LPGP work, contributing to economic development in the region. The work will include the disassembly and reassembly of equipment.

The Power Authority is also currently conducting a LEM program at another hydroelectric project, the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in Massena. That initiative is more than three-quarters complete and scheduled to be finished by 2013.