Blenheim-Gilboa Power Project to Undergo $135 Million Modernization Program

Jack Murphy               

January 13, 2005


WHITE PLAINS – The New York Power Authority has announced it will undertake a four-year, $135 million program to modernize and extend the life of the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project here.

“Blenheim-Gilboa has been a vital part of the Power Authority’s generation mix since it came on line back in 1973,” said Power Authority Chairman Louis P. Ciminelli. “Because it has proven so valuable in meeting peak consumer demands over the years, we want to ensure that it continues to run efficiently and effectively far into the future.”

The program, known as LEM (Life Extension and Modernization), is expected to officially begin in September 2006 when the first of the four units will be taken out of service. The plan calls for the renovation of the first unit to be completed by May of 2007 and will include replacement of many of the major mechanical and electrical components of the plant and maintenance and repairs to virtually all other parts.

The process will be repeated three times, in the fall of 2007, 2008 and 2009. The schedule calls for the entire project to be completed in May 2010.

The work on each unit will require that the water level of the upper reservoir on top of Brown Mountain will be reduced each fall to permit replacement of spherical valves that control the flow of water into the power house.

The Power Authority is working with officials at SUNY Cobleskill to provide expanded breeding facilities for fish with the intent of restocking the reservoirs.

Blenheim-Gilboa is a special type of hydroelectric project that operates like a giant storage battery.  In peak demand periods, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are released from the upper reservoir.  The water plunges 1,200 feet within the mountain to power four turbine-generators that can produce more than 1 million kilowatts of electricity and then flows into a lower reservoir on the Schoharie Creek.  At night and on weekends, when demand is lower, the water is pumped back to the upper reservoir, using economical electricity from other sources.

On July 31, 1973, four years and 19 days after the groundbreaking, the project and the adjacent 650-acre Mine Kill State Park, were dedicated. About five months later, on Dec. 17, Blenheim-Gilboa operated at full capacity for the first time. 

Within the next several years, the Power Authority completed development of an educational and cultural complex on the historic Lansing Manor property adjacent to the project.  The project’s visitors center is housed in a restored 19th-century dairy barn on the property, while the manor house has been transformed into a museum operated by NYPA with the Schoharie County Historical Society.

The Lansing Manor-Visitors Center complex is admission-free and located on Route 30, 17 miles south of Middleburgh and 5 miles north of Grand Gorge. It is about 50 miles southwest of Albany.