Oswego1

Figure 1. Downstream view of the Oswego Falls East (right) and Oswego Falls West (left) developments at Upper Fulton Dam/Lock 2.

The Oswego Falls Project is located on the Oswego River in the city of Fulton, Oswego County, New York and consists of two powerhouses, the Oswego Falls East (OFE) and Oswego Falls West (OFW) developments, that share a single dam, spillway, and impoundment.  The dam, which was constructed in 1927, and forebay gate structures at the Upper Fulton Dam are owned by the New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC).

Project Name Oswego Falls
LIHI Certificate Number 35A
LIHI Effective and
Expiration Dates
December 7, 2012
December 7, 2017
Owner Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P.
State New York
Location Located on the Oswego River, New York.
Installed Capacity 7.360 MW
Average Annual Generation 32.256 GWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC Nos. P-5984

The Oswego River is formed at the confluence of the Seneca and Oneida rivers and flows north approximately 23 river miles to Lake Ontario. The Oswego River first flows through the Lock 1 dam impoundment at the Phoenix Project (FERC No. 4113), which is owned by Algonquin Power. The water flow then enters the Oswego Falls impoundment formed by the Upper Fulton Dam (Lock 2, River Mile 12.6). The Oswego Falls East and Oswego Falls West developments (FERC No. 5984) are located immediately below this impoundment.

Once past the Oswego Falls Project, water flow enters the Fulton-Granby impoundment. The Granby Project (FERC No. 2837) and the Fulton Development of the Oswego River Project (FERC No. 2474) are located along opposite sides of Lower Fulton Dam (Lock 3), approximately one mile below Upper Fulton Dam. The Oswego River next enters the impoundment formed by the Minetto Development of the Oswego River Project (FERC No. 2474). The Minetto Development is located near Lock 5, approximately 6.4 miles downstream of Fulton and Granby. Next, water flow enters the impoundment at Lock 6 and the High Dam Project (FERC No. 10551), which is owned by the city of Oswego, with Erie providing operation and maintenance support for the plant. Finally, once past the High Dam Project, water flow enters the Varick Development of the Oswego River Project (FERC No. 2474). The Varick Development is located near Lock 7, 1.4 miles above the mouth of Lake Ontario.

Oswego Falls Project

The dam at Oswego Falls has a weir section (top elevation of 354.0 feet) and a spillway section for overflow, equipped with a 1.5-foothigh pneumatic flashboard system installed and maintained by EBH. The spillway’s crest elevation is 351.8 feet. The top of the pneumatic system is at elevation 353.3 feet. To the west of the weir section, there are six Taintor gates which allow lowering the impoundment to elevation 343.8 feet.

This dam creates a head pond extending 9.4 miles upstream with a gross volume of 3,540 acre-feet and a surface face area of 580 acres at elevation 353.3 feet. The usable storage at 0.5 of drawdown is about 300 acre-feet.

The dam and forebay gate structures at the Upper Fulton dam are owned by New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC). The dam has a weir section and a spillway section for overflow, and the crest is equipped with a 1.5-foot-high pneumatic flashboard system installed and maintained by Erie. To the west of the weir section, there are six Tainter gates, which are owned by NYSCC. The Oswego Falls West Development is located on the left bank (looking downstream), and the Oswego Falls East Development is located on the opposite (right) bank. In accordance with the 2004 Offer of Settlement and 2006 FERC order amending the license for the Oswego Falls Project, a seasonal (June 15 to September 15) upstream eel conveyance system will be installed at the Oswego Falls Project by the end of 2008.

The existing licensed operational mode for the Oswego Falls Project is modified run-of-river operation, which allows for a 0.5-foot impoundment fluctuation. The Project generates with inflows between 652 cfs and 7,158 cfs, and flows outside of this range are spilled at the dam. The licensed bypass flow for the Oswego Falls Project is 236 cfs or inflow, whichever is less. Of this total bypass flow, 70 cfs is released at the East Development, and 166 is released through the No. 1 Tainter gate.

Oswego Falls East Development

Licensed project works at the OFE Development (Latitude – 43.3147 N, Longitude:  -76.4158 W) include:

  • A forebay, located near Lock 2, which is equipped with a trash sluice and electric-operated gate;
  • Intake structure with 1-inch trashracks;
  • A concrete and brick powerhouse;
  • Three vertical Francis-type turbine-generator units. Each unit has an installed capacity of 1.5 MW and a hydraulic capacity of 1,410-cfs at a rated head of 17 feet. The combined hydraulic capacity of the turbines is 4,230-cfs. Minimum flows at the Oswego Falls East Development are provided through the existing trash sluice gate;
  • A tailrace channel separated from the river by a concrete gravity section and earth embankment at the lock by a masonry and concrete retaining wall, and ;

2.4-kV primary transmission lines and appurtenant facilities and the 2.4-kV station tie to the West Development.

Oswego Falls West Development

Licensed project works at the OFW Development (Latitude – 43.3147 N, Longitude:  – 76.4158 W) include:

  • NYSCC’s forebay gate structure between the Taintor gates and western shore of the river that conveys water to the forebay of the powerhouse and currently acts as the 1-inch trashrack structure;
  • Intake head gates and ice and trash sluices;
  • A concrete and brick powerhouse;
  • Four quadruplex-type turbine/generator units (Units 1, 2, 4, and 5) and two vertical propeller turbine units (Units 6 and 7). Units 1 and 2 are inoperable. Both units 4 and 5 have an installed capacity of 0.93 MW and a hydraulic capacity of 560-cfs, at a rated head of 17 feet. Both Units 6 and 7 have an installed capacity of 0.50 MW and a hydraulic capacity of 416 cfs, at a rated head of 16.7 feet. As approved in FERC’s 2006 order amending the license, an additional 0.6 MW of installed capacity was achieved through the replacement of the existing Unit 3 with two vertical propeller units and replacement of the Unit 3 horizontal generator with two new vertically-oriented generators. This increased installed capacity did not require any new dam or other diversion structure. The increased capacity increases the overall discharge of the Project by 432-cfs or 6.6% without affecting conditions for fish, wildlife, and water quality.
  • A tailrace channel separated from the river by a concrete gravity section and from the river bank by a concrete retaining wall, and;
  • 4-kV primary transmission lines and appurtenant facilities.
Oswego2

Figure 2. Upstream view of the Fulton (left) and Granby (right) developments at Lower Fulton Dam/Lock 3.

The Project operation is coordinated with the other Oswego River hydro developments on the Oswego River. Each project uses its storage capabilities to generate power using a modified run-of-river (MROR) operation. At the Project, the MROR operation allows for a 0.5-foot impoundment fluctuation.

The licensed bypass flow for the Project is the lesser of 236-cfs or inflow. The initial 70-cfs of bypass flow is released at the OFE development with the remainder released through Taintor gate 1, which is adjacent to the pneumatic flashboard section of the dam.

The Project generates when total inflow exceeds 652-cfs; enough water to pass the bypass flow plus running one turbine at its minimum turbine limit. Once total inflow exceeds 7,158-cfs, the total hydraulic capacity of the Project, all excess water is spilled at the dam.

The Oswego Falls Project has an overall installed capacity of 7.360 MW and produces an average annual energy (AAE) of 32.256 GWh (Plant factor of 50.2%).

Oswego3

Figure 3. The Minetto Development at Minetto Dam/Lock 5.

Oswego4

Figure 4. The Varick Developments at Varick Dam/Lock 7.

Certification History

March 10, 2015:  The Oswego Falls Project has been determined to continue to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria, and a new Low Impact Certification term is effective December 7, 2012 with an expiration on December 7, 2017.  The newly defined Oswego Falls Project has been certified for an additional 5-year term as LIHI Certificate No. 35A.  The Oswego Falls Project comprised of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) license 5984 for Erie Boulevard Hydropower’s Oswego Falls East & West hydro developments.  In December 2007, the Oswego Falls Project was certified as part of the larger Oswego River Project (LIHI 35), which was comprised of hydro developments in FERC licenses 5984 and 2474 (Oswego Falls East, Oswego Falls West, Fulton, Minetto and Varick). LIHI’s five year certification for the ORP ended on December 7, 2012. Due to the large disparity in the FERC licensing time frames, LIHI determined that the ORP needs to be separated into two individual LIHI projects. The Oswego Falls will now be defined as LIHI Project 35A going forward.  The remaining part of the Oswego project, for developments in FERC license 2474, will now be defined as the Oswego River Project (LIHI 35B)

January 16, 2013:  Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P. has submitted an application for recertification of the Oswego Falls and Oswego River Projects.

July 3, 2008: The Oswego Falls and Oswego River Projects have been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective December 7, 2007 and expiring December 7, 2012.

December 7, 2007: Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P. has submitted an application for certification of the Oswego Falls and Oswego River Projects. A public comment period will be open for 60 days; all comments must be received by February 7, 2008.


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