The New York Power Authority last week approved up to $220 million of bonds to finance an upgrade to a hydroelectric power facility and to refund outstanding debt.

The new-money portion of the debt — up to $80 million — would finance upgrades at the Niagara Power Project’s Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant.

The new money proceeds could be tax-exempt, taxable, or a combination of both. The refunding component will be tax-exempt.

The Niagara Power project consists of two plants near Niagara Falls.

The Lewiston plant supplements the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station’s power generation during the day. At night, when power usage is low, the Lewiston plant pumps water into a reservoir.

The plants began operation in 1961 and were re-licensed for another 50 years in 2007.

The upgrades are part of a $460 million life extension and modernization program the authority approved for the Lewiston plant in June.

NYPA completed $300 million of upgrades at the Robert Moses plant in 2006.

The underwriter had not been chosen last week but will be selected from a pool of six pre-qualified senior managers the authority approved in September.

Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP is bond counsel and Public Financial Management Inc. is financial adviser.

The authority hasn’t announced a date for the sale but the state comptroller’s forward issuance calendar lists the refunding for this month.

NYPA operates 17 power-generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit miles of transmission lines.

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