NYPA’s board approve $382 million in grid upgrade programs

The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) board of trustees on Wednesday authorized grid upgrade and extension initiatives totaling $382 million.

The initiatives span four previously announced programs at NYPA, its Transmission Life Extension and Modernization Program, its Communications Backbone Program, its Next Generation Niagara, and the Marcy to New Scotland transmission upgrade project NYPA is undertaking with LS Power Grid New York.

“The Power Authority is very proud of the work we are doing to help prepare New York State’s generation and transmission assets for the zero-emission energy grid of the future,” Gil Quiniones, president and CEO of NYPA, said in a statement.

The biggest ticket item among the recent approvals was $200 million to begin construction of the transmission upgrade program to rebuild a 93-mile transmission corridor between Marcy in Oneida County and New Scotland in Albany County. The New York State Public Service Commission approved the project in January. Construction is expected to begin this month.

The upgrade project is one of several highlighted in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address designed to increase capacity, reduce congestion costs, and speed the flow of renewable energy across the state.

NYPA’s board also approved two resolutions valued at $139 million for the final phase of equipment upgrades at its Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant’s switchyard. The approvals include the design, purchase and installation of new auto-transformers, circuit breakers, switches and ancillary equipment, as well as the replacement of protective relay equipment that has reached the end of its useful life. The upgrades are part of NYPA’s statewide Transmission Life Extension and Modernization program that began in 2012.

NYPA’s board also awarded a 15-year contract valued at $18 million for the design, manufacture, and delivery of new turbine shafts for the mechanical overhaul of its Niagara Power Plant’s turbines. The contract is part of a 15-year, $1.1 billion upgrade program known as Next Generation Niagara to extend the operating life of the hydropower station.

NYPA’s board also authorized $25 million for the completion of the final phase of NYPA’s Communications Backbone Program that is designed to establish a dedicated, redundant communications network that builds on NYPA’s existing infrastructure while leveraging available infrastructure from independent dark-fiber service providers to reduce dependency on commercial telecommunication providers. The program began in 2017 and is scheduled for completion in 2022.

All four authorizations are aimed at advancing NYPA’s digitization efforts as part of NYPA’s strategic plan, which was recently updated to strengthen NYPA’s role in advancing New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that calls for a carbon dioxide free electric system in the state by 2040 and an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.