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The New York Power Authority is making headway on a 10-year, $460 million modernization of its supplemental power facility in the Town of Lewiston.

The Power Authority said that it has finished upgrading the first of 12 pump-turbines at the Niagara Power Project’s Lewiston Pump Generating Plant. The modernization program started late last year.

The pump-turbine units will be taken out of service one at a time so that 11 will always be available for operation. One pump-turbine will be overhauled every eight to nine months; the next unit is scheduled to be taken out of service later this month.

The Power Authority will upgrade the turbines and replace the facility’s generator step-up transformers, which date from 1961, the year the Niagara Power Project went into service. Ferguson Electric, a Buffalo electrical contractor, has been awarded about $5.5 million in contracts for the project, said Paul DeMichele, a Power Authority spokesman.

The Lewiston Pump Generating Plant supplements the output of the main facility, the Niagara Power Project, during periods of peak power demand.

The pump generating plant stores water as potential energy during off-peak hours for later use when demand is higher, according to the Power Authority.

When demand is low, it pumps water from the power project’s forebay up into the reservoir. When electricity use peaks in the daytime, the pumps are reversed and become generators, allowing Niagara River water to be used to produce electricity twice, with the same water passing through the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant’s turbines and then the generating units of the main power plant.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com