NYPA buys gas units to avoid summer 2001 shortages

With potential electricity shortages looming, the New York Power Authority said it will spend up to $220 million to buy 11 gas turbine generator sets with generating capacity of about 520 Mw to be installed by the summer of 2001. Depending on configuration, state regulators say the units may not require air permits.

Aug 30th, 2000


Kate Thomas
OGJ Online

With potential electricity shortages looming, the New York Power Authority said it will spend up to $220 million to buy 11 gas turbine generator sets with generating capacity of about 520 Mw to be installed by the summer of 2001.

The 42 Mw units will be purchased from General Electric Packaged Power Inc., a General Electric Co. unit.

"We had to act quickly to get the machines," said Jack Murphy, spokesman for the state-owned NYPA. By most accounts, GE has a long waiting list for its gas generators. "How we got the opportunity, I don't know," Murphy says.

Sites for the units have not been selected, Murphy says, but NYPA will be working with Consolidated Edison of New York Inc. and the city of New York to determine where they will be located.

"My understanding is that they will not go in one place," Murphy says.

Because the units are less than 80 Mw each and depending on how they are configured, it is possible the project will not be required to get air permits, said a spokesman for the New York Public Service Commission (PSC). That could speed up the siting process considerably.

NYPA said it acted because, despite the numerous announcements of proposed new power projects to serve New York City, most are not expected to begin operating until 2002. In a situation reminiscent of power-starved California, nearly 3,705 Mw of new and repowered projects to serve New York City are pending before the New York PSC.

"To confront the more immediate challenge posed by possible shortages next summer, the New York Power authority is moving to provide generation capacity to meet this interim shortfall," C.D. Rappleya, NYPA chairman, said in a statement.

Earlier this summer the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) said it was likely emergency procedures would have to be used in New York during peak demand this summer, especially after the failure of the Hudson transformer serving New York City.

"There is the idea we dodged a bullet this summer," Murphy says, thanks to cooler than expected temperatures. But the New York City economy is growing and electricity demand is increasing. The 2003 projected peak demand was surpassed in 1999, he says.

The NYPA provides one-fourth of the state's electricity, operating 12 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

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