Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
NYPA is rumored to be posting profits of close to $400 to $500 million this year, and that money will be swept into the NY State budget. It's about 10% of the money that would be taken in by continuing the "millionaire's tax" in NY State that expires at the end of this year. That Cuomo, what a freakin' Republicrat....

One recent source of profits is via their pumped hydroelectric storage unit at Lewiston, NY (part of the Niagara Falls complex). In 2010, they made an average of  of 57 MW of electricity that was sold into the NYISO Zone A. They consumed about 95 MW of el-cheapo hydro (cost = 0.2 c/kw-hr) made during non-peak times when their water withdrawal allotment from the Niagara River is highest (night time), and converted that into peak power that probably averaged around 6 c/kw-hr.

They made 499,320 MW-hr from the pumped hydro unit, and at $60/MW-hr, that is "only" $29.96 million. The cost to make 832,200 MW-hr was about $1.66 million, for an easy $28.3 million. So, it's not all of their profit, but an example of what they can do, and it also has the added feature of driving down the profits of polluters (nukes, coal, Ngas) significantly, as well as eliminating the need for about 5.6 billion standard cubic feet of methane (peak units are less efficient that combined cycle ones), which is also good (0.5% of state Ngas consumption).

If NYPA had any balls bigger than the size of your average helium nucleus (mass of volume, take your pick), they would go on a construction binge and put lots more pumped hydro units across the state. We have lots of mountain/big hill/lake or river/transmission line combinations all across the state, which would allow for some serious reductions in the usage of Ngas for peak electricity production. These would also flatten the daily electricity cost profile, and take a big bite out of the rentier/extraordinary profits abstracted by owners of coal and nuke units, or in some cases big Ngas units via the pumped hydro Merit Order Effect. After all, in a NYISO Zone with a combination of combined cycle and single cycle Ngas fired units such rentier profits would also be made due to the lower thermal efficiency/higher operating cost of single cycle vs. combined cycle units, or those rare places where they still do co-gen around the state. These pumped hydro units are going to be  essential when we have a electrical system essentially all renewable energy based, which is where we should be heading to, but which we now seem to be running away from at a serious pace and into the arms of Ngas frackers.

I guess one of the heads of Gov. Cuomo's economic revitalization councils is the CEO of National Fuel Gas (aptly referred to as NFG), which is becoming a serious fracker (Pa, W. Virginia) via their Seneca Resources subsidiary. They aim to supply about half of the Ngas to their monopoly saddled customer base. Hard to tell, eh? Oh well, that's why he is one of the highest paid exec's in WNY at over $6 million/yr, which is a pittance by comparison to other parts of NY State, but it is mostly monopoly derived money. Ugh..


by nb41 on Thu Sep 29th, 2011 at 10:54:45 AM EST
A couple more things to add to this. About a decade ago, one of the dirtiest coal producing plants in America was reopened in Tonawanda, NY which is just below Niagara Falls. The amount of particulate this plant dumps as the wind blows (ironically enough it mainly falls on the wealthiest suburbs in the region, Williamsville and Clarence) is enormous, and it certainly contributes to the region's higher than average cancer rate. And yet, though it regularly pays big fines for exceeding even the much lowered limits allowed by the Bush administration, it's still in operation.

Since I live close to the Niagara River (10 minute bike ride and the Canadian border), I always notice the boom that gets lowered into the water in the early Fall to prevent the turbines from the hydroelectric plant from getting chunked up by the huge balls of ice rolling down the river. That boom stays until the late spring. When the ice backs up, it acts as a natural air conditioner/refrigerant dropping the temperatures by 10 degrees. On a hot April day, when it's 75 degrees in the city, I can ride my bike just 10 minutes to the river, and the temperature there will be 60 degrees. This represents a huge expense for the people living along that river since heating costs rise because of the boom. You would think we'd catch a break from the plant, but our electric rates are higher than much of the state and even higher than the municipalities in other states that the power plant sells electricity to.

by Upstate NY on Thu Sep 29th, 2011 at 12:21:24 PM EST
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