NY Governor announces completion of Lewiston Pump Generating Plant modernization

Lewiston equipment

During Climate Week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced completion of a $460 million modernization and life extension effort at the New York Power Authority’s Lewiston Pump Generating Plant (LPGP) and the digitalization of the first of 13 hydropower turbines at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.

The digitalization is the first major milestone of Next Generation Niagara, a $1.1 billion, 15-year modernization and digitalization program to significantly extend the operating life of the Niagara Power Project. Together, these projects represent nearly $1.6 billion of clean energy infrastructure investments at the Niagara Power Project that will help advance New York State’s clean energy goal to transition to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.

“Taking bold steps in the fight against climate change has never been more important, and New York State is prepared to lead the way forward taking advantage of carbon-free sources of energy,” Governor Hochul said. “By digitizing and modernizing our Niagara Power Project, one of the largest sources of clean energy in the country, we’re ensuring that it will continue to power our economy for years to come. This project holds up New York as a shining example of what it takes to modernize and upgrade a large, complex generation resource.”

The Robert Moses and Lewiston plants, which together comprise the Niagara Power Project, have a combined net dependable capability of 2,675 MW, making it the largest generating facility in the state and one of the largest in the country. The LPGP and Robert Moses Power Plant improvements include replacing aging equipment with the latest machinery reflecting advanced digital technologies for optimizing the project’s performance. The projects will secure the combined plant’s long-term future as a clean power generator that spurs economic development in Western New York and across the state through its low-cost power allocation programs, including New York’s ReChargeNY program. The Niagara Project, through these programs, directly supports more than 200,000 jobs and $13 billion in capital investments.

“As we look for ways to rebuild the economy and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, this modernization and digitization project allows NYPA to continue to generate clean energy, provide low-cost power to job-producing companies and accelerate New York’s journey toward a clean energy future,” said NYPA Chairman John R. Koelmel. “Historians will look back on the work we are doing to transform the Niagara Power Project as a pivotal moment in New York’s move to decarbonize its energy grid.”

LPGP life extension and modernization complete

The 10-year, $460 million life extension and modernization of the LPGP, which began in 2012, included replacing the facility’s 12 pump-turbines and its generator step-up transformers, which date back to 1961. Overhaul work on all 12 turbines was completed in August.

LPGP provides clean hydropower during periods of peak power demand, supplementing the output of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. The work that concluded at the LPGP involved the replacement of one pump-turbine every eight to nine months, ensuring that 11 of the 12 LPGP turbine units were available for operation during the upgrade so that NYPA could meet commitments to its power customers.

NextGen first turbine digitalized

Launched in July 2019, Next Generation Niagara is a $1.1 billion, 15-year modernization and digitalization program to significantly extend the operating life of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. The recently completed installation of new digital controls on the first turbine-generator unit included making corresponding digital connections to the facility’s control room as part of the plant’s overall control room upgrade and redesign and to the plant’s switchyard where Niagara’s power is distributed across New York’s transmission system. In the switchyard, workers installed digital controls on the transformers and circuit breakers corresponding to the upgraded turbine. Work to digitalize the first unit, which began last November, is part of a design-build contract NYPA trustees awarded to Burns and McDonnell and includes subcontracts to Emerson and Ferguson Electric.

In addition, the Next Generation Niagara initiative encompasses a comprehensive inspection of the Robert Moses Plant’s penstocks, which are 485 feet long and 24 feet in diameter; replacement of the 630-ton crane that enables mechanical work on the turbines; and the overhaul and/or replacement of mechanical components that have reached the end of their operating life.

A unit outage to digitalize the next turbine-generator unit control system as part of the multi-year #NextGenNiagara modernization and digitization project is expected to begin May 2022.

New York State’s climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality.

NYPA is the largest state public power organization in the U.S., operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. More than 70% of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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