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First stage complete in rehab of Lewiston power plant

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The State Power Authority is making major renovations in the electrical generating plant in Lewiston, investing $460 million to rehabilitate its pump generators.The 12 giant pump generators were installed when the plant was built in 1961 and now they will be completely rebuilt, with the first just completed. With the plan to have only one out of service at a time, the work will take ten years.

Local electrical contractor Ferguson Electric has more than $5 million in contracts for the rehabs, continuing a history at the plant since it was built.

Authority Media Relations Specialist Paul DeMichele says Lewiston is a different kind of power plant.

"It's an auxiliary facility to the Robert Moses plant and it uses that electricity to pump water up to a reservoir during the night when electricity demand is low. And then when electricity demand increases during the day, it has water that can flow from the upper reservoir and pass through the turbines a second time," DeMichele says.

DeMichele says the rebuilding of the pump generators means it can use fewer of the machines to generate the same amount of electricity, easing the stress on the equipment.

The effort is part of a binational attempt to squeeze more power out of Niagara River water with Ontario Power Generation recently completing its $1.5 dollar tunnel bringing river water to a plant across from the Lewiston plant.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.