N.Y. Power Authority Seeks New License to Continue to Operate Blenheim-Gilboa Hydroelectric Project
Filing Kicks-off Multi-Year Public Process to Protect Valuable Facility for Reliability of New York State’s Power Grid
April 10, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GILBOA—The New York Power Authority (NYPA) today announced it has taken the first official step to obtain a new operating license for its Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project (B-G) by filing the required preliminary documents with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC is the regulatory agency responsible for the licensing of the nation’s hydroelectric projects. Relicensing is a multiyear process and by initiating the process now, NYPA will be positioned to obtain a new license before its current one expires in April 2019.
NYPA filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) to formally notify FERC of its intention to relicense the project. In addition, NYPA filed a Pre-Application Document (PAD). The PAD is a comprehensive report describing the relicensing process and providing engineering, operational, economic and environmental information about B-G. Both documents are available at: www.bg.nypa.gov.
“The Blenheim-Gilboa project plays a valuable role in the security and reliability of New York State’s bulk electric power system—by providing electricity during periods of high demand—while also being linked to important recreational, tourism, economic and environmental benefits for the Schoharie Valley,” said Lynn H. Hait, regional manager for Central New York, NYPA. “A new license will allow the Power Authority—a public entity operated without taxpayer dollars—to continue providing important energy reliability and community benefits to local residents and the people of New York State.”
In May 1969, NYPA received a 50-year license from the Federal Power Commission, the predecessor of FERC, to construct and operate B-G along the Schoharie Creek, a tributary of the Mohawk River in the northern Catskills. The power plant, located on the B-G project grounds, began supplying electricity to the state’s power grid in 1973. NYPA expects to submit its application for a new license in April 2017.
B-G’s principal features include the power plant; the upper and lower reservoirs; and all surrounding grounds and facilities within the project boundary, much of which support regional tourism and recreation.
Licensing, as administered by FERC, is a process to review a hydroelectric project’s operations and its relationship to the surrounding environs. It involves studies and public participation on a schedule set by FERC. The process follows an outline—a scoping document—that describes required topics for informed discussion, with formal studies undertaken if FERC requires them, to evaluate a project’s request for a new license.
It is expected that FERC will hold many public meetings throughout the multiyear relicensing process, beginning as early as summer 2014, at dates and locations to be determined.
B-G is within the towns of Blenheim and Gilboa in Schoharie County, just below Brown Mountain. The pumped-storage plant is a special type of hydroelectric facility that circulates water between the upper and lower reservoirs to generate electricity quickly during peak demand periods, including heat waves and other times of stress on the state’s power grid. B-G employs more than 150 people, the majority of whom live in Schoharie County, and is one of the major employers in the area. It has a total annual payroll of approximately $12 million.
NYPA has developed and restored several public educational and recreational facilities, including Lansing Manor, an historic early 19th century home; the Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center; and Mine Kill State Park, located adjacent to the visitors center, and operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
NYPA operates Lansing Manor as a museum in cooperation with the Schoharie County Historical Society. Housed in Lansing Manor’s former barn, the visitors center is run by NYPA staff and is open to the public year-round offering free educational programming and events for local residents, tourists and school groups. Since opening in 1974, it has welcomed more than 2 million visitors. The land surrounding the visitors center provides numerous recreational opportunities including hiking; cross-country skiing; and boating and fishing in the reservoirs that NYPA regularly stocks with game fish.
■ The New York Power Authority has been designated as the lead entity via Executive Order 88 by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to form a central management and implementation plan to carry out his Build Smart NY plan to reduce energy use by state facilities by 20 percent by 2020. ■ NYPA uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity.■ NYPA is the nation's largest state public power organization, through the operation of its 16 generating facilities in various parts of New York State, participation in a unique public/private partnership to contract for power from a clean generating plant in Queens, and its operation of more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ More than 70 percent of the electricity NYPA produces is clean renewable hydropower. Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state.■ For more information visit www.nypa.gov and follow us on Twitter @NYPAenergy, Facebook, Instagram, Wordpress, and LinkedIn.