National Grid's Gardenville electrical station in West Seneca is a workhorse, supporting about one-third of the region's electricity needs.
Homeowners around the region rely on the station and its 17 high-voltage transmission lines to keep the lights on. Manufacturers like Ford Motor Co.'s parts stamping plant in Woodlawn count on the site to power their production.
But the Gardenville station's infrastructure is also decades old. National Grid will spend $118 million to upgrade the site, ensuring its systems will remain reliable and capable of meeting the needs of new customers, such as SolarCity.
The original Gardenville station – located west of Union Road and north of the Aurora Expressway – is a hub for transmitting and distributing electricity. It was built in the 1930s, with major component upgrades and replacements in the 1950s and 1960s.
"Clearly, it's time," said Ken Daly, president of National Grid's New York State operations. "As well as the system runs, as high as the reliability is, we as a company need to constantly modernize the system."
As part of the $118 million investment, National Grid will rebuild the 115,000-volt element of the station and associated line work. The project should be finished by late summer 2020, after which some older structures will be torn down.
Daly said manufacturers – whether they are already here or new to the area – count on a site like Gardenville's to keep their operations running smoothly.
"What they're looking for is reliability, low-cost power, and job development. An investment like this by National Grid allows us to get ahead of that development and ensure that for many decades to come, this region has the clean, economic and reliable power that it needs."
Assemblyman Michael Kearns, D-Buffalo, said the National Grid project is vital to economic development. "We are in competition with other communities, and having stable and cheap power is so important for us to be competitive."
National Grid's West Seneca investment is part of a five-year, $3 billion investment plan the company has rolled out for its Upstate systems, from 2013 to March 2018.