THE US NEW YORK POWER Authority (NYPA) says it has reached agreements with several key groups as it prepares a relicensing application for its 2400MW Niagara Power project. The application to federal regulators is due in August, two years before the hydroelectric plant's current 50-year license is set to expire in 2007. The hydro power project supplies about 10% of New York State’s power.
As part of the relicensing process, which began in December 2002 with organisational meetings, NYPA has solicited the participation of a wide range of interested groups including State and Federal regulatory bodies, local municipalities, area businesses and labour unions, environmental groups and academic institutions.
Officials say as part of the relicensing agreement NYPA has agreed to fund a Niagara river Greenway Commission that has been sought by more than 30 environmental, sportsmen and boating organisations concerned about waterfront access and protecting the river. The authority has also reached an agreement with several host communities and school districts, which banded together under the Niagara Power Coalition. The city of Buffalo and Niagara University are other negotiators.
Located about 64km downstream from Niagara Falls, the project diverts up to 1.7M litres of water per second from the Niagara river and conveys it for the production of electricity at two main facilities: the Robert Moses Niagara power plant, with 13 turbines, and the Lewiston pump generating plant, with 12 pump turbines.
In between the two plants is a forebay capable of holding 745.5B litres of water; behind the Lewiston plant, a 769ha reservoir holds additional storage. At night, when electricity demand is low, the Lewiston units operate as pumps, transporting water from the forebay up to the plant’s reservoir. During the daytime, when electricity use peaks, the Lewiston pumps are reversed and become generators, similar to those at the Moses plant.
In 1991, the Power Authority began a US$300M upgrade and modernisation at the project’s Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. All 13 turbines are being replaced and other improvements are being made to generating equipment in the dam, with completion scheduled for 2006.