Electrical control system and modernization upgrade for power plant

Burns & McDonnell will serve as engineer-procure-construct (EPC) contractor for an electrical control system upgrade and modernization project for the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant.

By Mary Young January 23, 2020

Burns & McDonnell is serving as engineer-procure-construct (EPC) contractor for a $134 million electrical control system upgrade and modernization project for the New York Power Authority’s 2,525-megawatt (MW) Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. The control system project is a crucial component of a recently announced $1.1 billion Next Generation Niagara program to extend the life of hydropower facilities on the Niagara Falls waterway and will move the NYPA further along on its path to become one of the nation’s first fully digital utilities.

NYPA is the largest state-owned public power organization in the U.S., operating 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of high-voltage transmission lines. Hydroelectric facilities provide more than 70% of the generation capacity managed by NYPA. Burns & McDonnell is working with Emerson, which will provide its automation system, as well as associated configuration and commissioning services.

The control system modernization will be implemented in a phased approach, which began in fall 2019 and will continue over the next 14 years. The controls upgrade will include installation of new digital components for all control facilities, an updated and modern control room and robust new protection schemes to help protect against physical and cyberattacks.

“The control systems upgrade is a key piece of the puzzle as we ready the Niagara Power Project for another 50 years of service,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the NYPA.

The Niagara Power Project is part of an ambitious plan to incorporate more renewable energy sources into New York State’s energy mix, announced by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo early in 2019. The state plans to procure 9 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2035, 6 GW of distributed solar installations by 2025, 3 GW of energy storage by 2030. The state aims to obtain 70% of its power needs from renewable sources by 2030 and reach 100% carbon neutrality by 2040.

“We’re honored to be a part of NYPA’s team on this important project,” said Rick Halil, president of the Energy Group at Burns & McDonnell. “We have managed and implemented control and electrical system upgrades for more than 30 years and are excited to leverage a true core competency on NYPA’s behalf.”

– Edited by Chris Vavra, associate editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, cvavra@cfemedia.com.

Author Bio: Mary Young, senior communications strategist, Burns & McDonnell