NYPA reaches local agreements related to relicensing Blenheim-Gilboa pumped hydro project

New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced it has reached agreements with the local community in support of the relicensing efforts for the 1,160-MW Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project, located in Schoharie County, N.Y, U.S.

The agreements consist of a total of US$70 million for 50 years and are part of NYPA’s relicensing application it submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the plant’s continued operation through 2069.

The project’s current license is set to expire on April 30, 2019 and the agreements, according to NYPA, are contingent on FERC’s decision on relicensing the plant. NYPA said it expects a decision by May 2019.

About $50 million will be shared between the towns of Blenheim and Gilboa and $20 million set forth in agreements with federal and state agencies for environmental and recreational enhancements in Schoharie County.

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The agreement with the Towns of Blenheim and Gilboa calls for annual payments of $500,000 to be shared equally for each year of the 50-year term. The agreement also contains an annual revenue-sharing provision that is worth a minimum of $25 million over the life of the new license. If the plant operates for an extended period without realizing a profit, mandatory payments will compensate the towns.

The Federal Power Commission, FERC’s predecessor, in 1969 granted a 50-year license to construct and operate the plant. The open-loop pumped hydro storage facility is located along Schoharie Creek, a tributary of Mohawk River in the northern Catskill Mountains.

The plant was commissioned in 1973 and some of its main features include the following: an upper reservoir, a head of 1,042 ft, a powerhouse containing four turbine-generators that release flow into the lower reservoir on Schoharie Creek within the project boundary just below Brown Mountain.

“These agreements mark a significant milestone in the negotiation of a new 50-year federal license for the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project – a plant that is integral to the sustainability of our statewide electric power system,” said Gil. C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “As a result of these agreements, the New York Power Authority has pledged $70 million in investments dedicated to enhancing neighboring communities and state parks, fishing areas and other outdoor recreation for residents and visitors to enjoy for many years to come.”

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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