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New York underpins clean energy goals with new $1.1B hydro investment

The New York Power Authority launched a $1.1 billion, 15-year modernization of the Niagara Power Project, an undertaking that will help the state realize its goal to shift to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.

The upgrades, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced July 31, will allow the Niagara Power Project to operate for another 50 years and represents the largest capital project in the New York Power Authority's, or NYPA's, history.

"This extraordinary investment is a crucial part of our nation-leading plan to decarbonize New York's electric power system by 2040 and will continue supplying job-producing companies across the state with clean, low-cost energy," Cuomo said.

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The New York Power Authority is preparing for a 15-year modernization of the Niagara Power Project in western New York.

Source: New York Power Authority

The project centers on improvements to the 2,447-MW Robert Moses Niagara hydroelectric plant in western New York, the main generating facility at the Niagara Power Project. The upgrades, which are set to begin later in 2019, will include improving and digitizing the plant's control systems, building a new backup control room, and replacing mechanical parts that have reached the end of their operating life.

The NYPA's board of trustees approved the investment at a July 30 meeting. The Niagara Power Project began operating in 1961 and received a new 50-year federal operating license in 2007. The complex supports more than 200,000 direct jobs and $17 billion in capital investments, with the newly announced modernization project estimated to generate 60 union construction jobs, the state said.

The planned improvements to the Robert Moses Niagara plant will contribute to Cuomo's vision for a "Green New Deal" for New York that includes deriving 100% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2040. In June, the New York State Legislature passed legislation mandating the 2040 target and requiring net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economywide by 2050. The bill also directs the state to get 70% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030.

Cuomo's July 31 announcement follows the NYPA's approval in March of a contract extension for the Robert Moses Niagara plant to sell about 765 MW of hydroelectric power to New York's 51 municipal and rural electric cooperatives through August 2040.