The first hydroelectric generator at the Robert Moses Power Plant is undergoing digitization, marking the first milestone in New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) 15-year modernization and digitization program to significantly extend the operating life of its Niagara Power Project in the US.

As part of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant’s life extension and modernization program, called "Next Generation Niagara," 13 turbine units in the project's main generating facility will be upgraded. An outage to allow for the overhaul of the first unit began recently and digitization and modernization work commenced earlier this month.

“The digitization of the first hydroelectric generator at the Robert Moses Power Plant is significant because it will set the course for work on the remaining twelve units,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “We have been planning this work for many months, but as the old saying goes, this is where the ‘rubber meets the road.’”

Next Generation Niagara was launched in July 2019.  Next Gen improvements include replacing aging equipment with the latest machinery reflecting advanced digital technologies for optimizing the hydroelectric project's performance.  The initiative encompasses four major phases:

  1. A comprehensive inspection of the Robert Moses plant's penstocks; 
  2. Refurbishing the 630-ton crane that enables mechanical work on the turbines; 
  3. Upgrading and digitizing control systems, and building a new back-up control room; 
  4. Overhaul and/or replacement of mechanical components that have reached the end of their operating life.

This first major outage will allow for the installation of new digital controls on the first turbine generator unit and its connections to the control room and the plant’s substations. Panels in the control room corresponding to the turbine unit also will be digitized as part of the plant’s overall Control Room upgrade and redesign. 

The turbine unit outage aligns with another outage for work on NYPA’s transmission life extension and modernization program taking place in the plant’s switchyard. This will allow new digital controls to be installed on the transformers and circuit breakers corresponding to the upgraded turbine. 

The work on this first unit is part of a design build contract NYPA trustees awarded to Burns and McDonnell earlier this year which includes subcontracts to Emerson and Ferguson Electric of Buffalo. The first-unit outage is expected to last approximately seven months.  

Image courtesy NYPA