Genesee River to power upstate homes once more

Dec 19, 2012

After five years of renovations to the Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) hydro-power station, the Genesee River will once again be used to power homes in upstate New York.

RG&E announced that a two-thousand-foot long power tunnel system under the river will resume producing hydroelectricity today, with the first of three power turbines being switched on.

The tunnel refurbishment project is the centerpiece of a five-year, $111 million upgrade to the RG&E hydroelectric power station in Rochester, New York.

Hugh Ivef - manager of fossil-hydro operations for RG &E – says the site was shut down for renovations in 2007, because the system was no longer in working condition.

“They served about 100 years, the original power house and the original tunnel, and after 100 years of service, it was time to take it down and re-build it for another hundred years.”

The original tunnel was bored through the bedrock under the river in 1916-17, by the Rochester Railway and Light Company.

Ivef says refurbishing the tunnel took considerable effort, including the building of a railroad within the tunnel to allow crews to move concrete into position.

But, he says the plant will provide a source of clean, renewable energy for the community for years to come.

“That plant makes roughly 219,000 hours of megawatt power per year. It produces electricity for the local, regional electrics grid.”

That translates to power for more than 30,000 homes in a year, and company officials say the station will be running at full capacity again by mid-January, when the other two turbines are once again spinning.

The project is part of a $1.4 billion dollar investment by RG&E parent company Iberdrola USA to improve infrastructure in New York state.