Power Authority Provides Funding for SUNY Cobleskill Fish Program

Jack Murphy


February 16, 2005 

COBLESKILL—Saying “this is a great deal for SUNY Cobleskill and for the Power Authority,” Eugene W. Zeltmann, the New York Power Authority’s president and chief executive officer, handed a check to SUNY Cobleskill President Dr. Thomas Haas to fund expansion of the college’s aquaculture program.

The $20,000 contribution will help SUNY Cobleskill to construct two ponds to support its fisheries and aquaculture program. Specifically, the plan involves raising walleye fingerlings for use in stocking waterways in Schoharie County, especially the re-stocking of the upper and lower reservoirs at the Power Authority’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project.

“As part of our Life Extension and Modernization (LEM) program at Blenheim-Gilboa, we do anticipate a loss in the current fisheries there and are looking at re-stocking the water with fish,” said Zeltmann. “There has been significant input from the Schoharie County Conservation Association (SCCA) asking that the Power Authority shift its emphasis to stocking walleye, an increasingly popular game fish. In partnership with SUNY Cobleskill, that is what we intend to do.”

Gerald Hamm, Dave Wood and Mike and Ray Zeh, members of SCCA have served on the Power Authority’s Wildlife Task Force and suggested changing the focus of the stocking program from trout to walleye.

“We feel that walleye will fare better than trout in the reservoirs due to the constant stirring of the waters,” said Mike Zeh. “The additional walleye might also be used to stock the Schoharie Creek and Oswego, giving sportsmen and women a better return on the Power Authority’s investment.”

President Haas said, “This is an outstanding example of how business, education and community members can work together for the betterment of the community as a whole. We’re grateful for the ongoing support of the Power Authority for this and many other SUNY Cobleskill initiatives and programs.”

The LEM, a four-year, $135 million rehabilitation of Blenheim-Gilboa’s generating capabilities, is scheduled to begin in 2006. It requires that the water in the upper reservoir be significantly lowered in each of the four years to allow work to be undertaken. Re-stocking will occur each year.

The formal agreement between NYPA and the school provides that in return for the $20,000 investment, the college will provide walleye fingerlings to NYPA at no cost for three years. In subsequent years, the Power Authority will have first option to purchase the fingerlings at a fair market price.

Blenheim-Gilboa, which currently can produce 1,040,000 kilowatts, 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, producing electricity and then flowing 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, just over four years after the groundbreaking, the project was dedicated. About five months later, on Dec. 17, Blenheim-Gilboa operated at full capacity for the first time.