Alcoa’s Massena East refit begins in June with new transmission line
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 9:01 am

MASSENA -- Alcoa’s Massena East smelter modernization project will start next month with the relocation of a transmission line to accommodate a new substation and aluminum production equipment.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) Board of Trustees has approved spending $3.7 million for the relocation of the line, which it operates.

“The rebuilding of the Massena East facility is integral to the future of northern New York,” said Judge Eugene L. Nicandri, a NYPA trustee and long-time Massena resident. “The relocation of the NYPA transmission lines on the smelter site is part of the necessary infrastructure modifications underpinning the major Alcoa modernization initiative that our region has long been looking forward to.”

“The transmission-line relocation is essential for the next phase of the modernization upgrades at the Massena East plant,” said Alcoa East Plant Manager Bob Lenney. “The relocation of the power lines several hundred feet to the south of their current site location is necessary for our installation of a new transmission substation for feeding electricity to a new aluminum production potline. This is another facet of New York State’s strong support for the Massena community.”

Alcoa committed to invest at least $600 million to modernize its Massena operations and retain a minimum of 900 jobs at the company’s Massena East and Massena West smelters in return for 478 megawatts of low-cost hydropower from the NYPA St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Hydroelectric Plant. This amounts to approximately 60 percent of the plant’s generating output.

“This transmission line relocation is critical to Alcoa’s much anticipated modernization of the Massena East smelter and reflects the unwavering support of the State of New York to secure the long-term future of aluminum production in the North Country,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in announcing the development.

“There may be no more important development for the region’s economy than the overhaul and upgrade of the Massena East smelter, for which work will get underway this summer,” Cuomo said.

“The New York Power Authority’s support of the Alcoa modernization initiative goes well beyond the low-cost St. Lawrence-FDR hydropower assigned to the company’s Massena facilities, as reflected by the transmission relocation project that we’re embarking on,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “We continue to work closely with Alcoa to make the modernization project a reality to protect hundreds of jobs and spur capital investments of hundreds of millions of dollars,” the NYPA chief said.

In March, the Alcoa board of directors announced that the company was prepared to proceed with the next phase of the modernization project. It plans to invest $42 million for site preparation at Massena East and to provide $10 million toward a North Country Economic Development Fund. The establishment of the fund is provided for under a long-term power agreement with NYPA that commences on Jan. 1, 2014.

The power will be provided to Alcoa over a 30-year contract that includes a 10-year option to extend service beyond 2045.

The new 115-kilovolt (kV) substation that Alcoa will install at the Massena East site will provide power to the new potline, which keeps aluminum in liquid form, as well as other equipment. The new substation will replace a facility more than half a century old. It will be where there are now three 115-kV transmission lines, which will be moved.

Nearly one-mile long sections of each power line will be moved, with the work scheduled to begin early next month for completion in November. The power-line relocation is provided for under a 2011 agreement in which Alcoa will reimburse NYPA for the engineering, procurement and construction costs.

An Au Sable Forks company in Clinton County, Northline Utilities, will provide materials, installation and testing services for the transmission-line relocation under a competitively awarded $2.13 million contract with NYPA.

Alcoa has been a customer of the Power Authority’s since St. Lawrence-FDR was first placed into commercial operation in 1958.