LEWISTON – The New York Power Authority is still investigating the cause of a transformer fire that erupted shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Project, drawing five local fire companies to the state’s largest hydroelectric generating plant.
The fire in one of the massive plant’s 13 transformers did not knock the plant offline, according to a statement from Harry Francois, Western New York regional manager. The fire did not spread to other transformers.
“The Niagara Hydroelectric Plant is meeting customer power requirements,” NYPA spokesman Michael Salzman said in a prepared statement, noting that it was near its full generating capacity by noon Thursday. “We are conducting an assessment on whether the damaged transformer can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced. This will be determined as we fully inspect the equipment and do an analysis of what caused the equipment failure last night.”
Francois said it took one hour and 10 minutes to extinguish the blaze, which broke out at 7:10 p.m. with a reported explosion. There were no injuries reported, and Francois said there was no environmental damage.
The Upper Mountain, Lewiston No. 1, Sanborn and Niagara Active fire companies went to the scene, along with the emergency response unit from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
Francois’ statement said, “NYPA immediately activated the plant’s emergency management response plan in accordance with its standard operating procedures. The plant’s automatic water deluge system activated as designed.”
A monetary damage estimate has yet to be determined.
The fire occurred in a step-up transformer, which increases the voltage of the power generated at the plant so it can be transmitted over high-voltage long-distance power lines, Salzman said.