Electric Division


The Electric Division of the Board of Public Utilities is regulated by the New York State Public Service Commission. The Commission's HOME ENERGY FAIR PRACTICES ACT (HEPFA) - RULES provide guidelines for utility operation. These rules are found in Part II of Title 16 of the New York Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations, Statutory authority: Public Service Law, article 2.

Public Service Commission (PSC) of the State of New York.

The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities is audited by the New York State Office of Audit and Control in addition to private audits performed for the utility itself and the City of Jamestown.

The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities must also obey the rules and regulations of the New York State Health Department, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the United States Department of Environmental Conservation, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the United States Department of Energy for the operation of its electric, water, district heat, Wastewater and solid waste divisions.

Environmental Compliance

The Jamestown BPU's Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS), monitors every pound of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) exiting the smoke stacks on a 24/7 basis. This CEMS system monitors the emission output levels for the General Electric LM6000 natural gas turbine.

The BPU relies on natural gas to generate electricity and no longer burns coal. As a result, the air emission output has been reduced by more than seventy-five percent. In addition, two former coal boilers were converted to fire natural gas. As natural gas burns more efficiently, a CEMS system is not required for these two boilers which now qualify as Low Mass Emitters.

All air emissions are reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on a quarterly basis as per our US EPA Title V Air Permit.

Quality Control

The power plant requires a proper balance of its water chemistry in order for the plant to run smoothly.

Much of the water used to generate electricity is recycled. This recycling creates several different loops of water throughout the generating station. Each day, samples are collected and analyzed, to determine the integrity of each loop and to determine the amount of chemical additions that are necessary to safeguard the equipment. Generation equipment is very expensive and quite sensitive to the water chemistry.

All the chemical data obtained is transferred into a computer program which is designed to aid in calculations of required chemicals. The program also allows comparison of data over a number of months or years. Trends are able to be plotted on graphs, and statistical data is readily compiled.

Street Lights

Public street lighting in Jamestown, Celoron, Falconer and lighting districts in the Town of Ellicott have changed as new technology develops. Mercury vapor lights replaced by sodium vapor now rapidly are being replaced with LEDs.

The BPU is responsible for more than 4,500 public street lights in 23 square miles. These lights are on wooden utility poles as well as on metal decorative poles.

Reporting a street light outage

Please report malfunctioning lights to the BPU. These malfunctions include lights that go on and off as well as the ones that do not light at all.

If the light you are reporting sits on a wooden utility pole, provide the five (5) digit number in orange and black that is attached to the pole.

If the number is on a decorative metal pole, such as the ones located in the Jamestown downtown area, please give a detailed description of the location of the light.

New street lights

New public lights are added when authorized by the governing bodies of the communities served.

A request for a new light in the City should be made to your City Council member. If a new light is approved by City Council, a notice will be sent to the BPU and a new light will be installed.

In the same way, to request a new light in a Village or Town that is served by BPU electric, please notify your Village or Town Office. Should the Village or Town administration approve your request, the municipality will ask the BPU to install the new light.

Off-street lighting

The BPU provides private lighting options for customers.

Please contact the BPU to request off-street lighting.

New York State Public Service Commission
Environmental Disclosure Program

On December 15, 1998, the New York State Public Service Commission directed all businesses subject to its jurisdiction that supply retail electric service to provide their customers with periodic environmental disclosure statements. The commission's directive applies to all electric utilities, energy service companies (ESCOs), and jurisdictional municipal and electric cooperative. The New York Power Authority and the Long Island Power Authority will participate on a cooperative basis.

The environmental disclosure label contains a breakdown of the fuel source of the power generated or purchased and the amount of air emissions that power generation or purchase caused during a specific period of time.

The label also includes each utility's air emissions relative to the New York State average including the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon dioxide (CO2) given off by power generated and purchased.

It is the Public Service Commission's intention that every retail electric provider will disclose this information to its customers every six months. The Board of Public Utilities will include the Envirnmental Disclosure Label in its New 'n Views newsletter as directed by the New York State Public Service Commission.

The description of these fuel sources in the following charts does not include the BPU's energy efficient heating system. The district heating system uses energy "twice", by utilizing steam from the power production rather than wasting this heat. This means that the BPU emissions are actually lower than reflected here for every unit of energy output because of its district heating system.

Frequently Asked Questions about Our Electric


If the Power Goes Out...

First, look outside and see if the outage has included your neighbors. If it hasn't, the problem may be within your own home. Check your fuse box or circuit breaker panel to see if you can locate the problem. If the neighboring houses are dark too, look for trees or branches on the lines, downed wires, flashes of light, or any other signs of trouble. DO NOT touch or attempt to move any electric lines or trees or any other obstacles in contact with electric lines.


When an outage occurs please call the BPU at 661-1640. During or after a major storm, calling will take a great deal of patience because many other people are also trying to call. It is natural to be tempted to ask how long the power will be out, but it is an almost impossible question to answer. Be assured we will get to you as soon as we can. There is no need to keep calling. However, if your power was restored and then failed again, or if you are in one of those small pockets of dark houses when the rest of the neighborhood has had its power restored, please call again.

Also, tune your battery operated radio to local stations, as we give updates to the public as to the status of repairs.


Always keep a flashlight and battery-powered radio on hand for emergencies.

When an outage occurs or lasts for an extended period of time, a heavy burden is placed on the system at the moment the power is restored. This high demand can cause an overload on the system and you could lose power once again. To prevent this, turn everything off in your home except one light.

In addition, make sure that your electric range has been turned off and that other heat-producing appliances are off as well because, if left on, they can pose a serious fire hazard after the power has been restored.

When the one light you have left on glows, you will know that the power has been restored and you may gradually switch your appliances back on and return thermostats to their normal settings.

What is public power?
"Public Power" is the term used to describe not-for-profit publicly owned electric utilities that are operated by a municipality, county, state or other public body such as a public utility district. Public Power systems are directly accountable to the people they serve. Private Power sells electricity to make a profit. Profits go to stockholders all over the country. Public power systems are not run to make a profit. All the benefits from public power stay at home in the form of lower rates, improved services, and other community contributions. Public ownership of a utility is like owning your own home. Private ownership is like renting it.

What are the benefits of public power?

  • Lower rates
  • Efficient service
  • Reliability
  • Local control
  • Commitment to conservation, safety, and the environment
  • Economic development
  • Competition

How do rates compare?
Public power rates, on a national average, are much lower than rates of private power companies. Residential customers of a private utility pay 30% more than public customers and the average private commercial/industrial customer pays about 10% more than a public customer. This difference has been steady for about the past 50 years.

Why are public power rates lower?

  • Public power leads the industry in providing efficient, low-cost electric service.
  • Public power systems are not-for-profit and do not pay dividends to outside stockholders.
  • Public power systems are more efficiently managed than private companies averaging about 10% less in administrative and general expenses.
  • Like other local government services, not-for-profit public power systems do not pay federal income taxes.
  • As not-for-profit government operations, public power utilities can issue tax-free bonds for capital expansion, which provide financing at a lower cost than taxable private corporate bonds.
  • Public power systems have relatively more access than do private power companies to low-cost hydroelectricity marketed by federal and state agencies at cost-based prices. The power from these publicly owned projects is sold first to not-for-profit, consumed-owned utilities.

What are the other economic benefits of public power?
On a national average, public power systems pay proportionately more of their annual gross electric revenues to the communities in which they operate than do private companies. Payments may be in the form of taxes, tax equivalent or in-lieu-of-tax payments, direct transfers to general funds or contribution of services. Public power systems also play a major role in promoting overall community development. For example, low-cost electric service is an inducement to new business and industry, which broadens the tax base and crates more jobs and local income.

What are the national economic benefits of public power?
Public power competition gives state and federal regulation more muscle and provides a constant "yardstick" by which to compare private company rates and service. Time and again, private companies have lowered rates or granted concessions to customers when confronted with citizen or local government interest in the public power option.

How is public power responsive to its consumer-owners?
Consumers set the pace for public power policy making. Policy board meetings are open to the public and consumers have a direct voice in expressing their goals and priorities for the community and its electric utility.

How are public power systems regulated?
Public power systems are regulated by their consumer-owners through locally elected or appointed officials. In a few states (such as New York), public power is regulated by state utility commissions. Some city councils govern their utilities, others are governed by an independent elected or appointed utility board such as the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. In any case, they are accountable to the citizens they serve.

Tree Trimming

The BPU and the utility’s contractor, Asplundh, work continuously to trim or remove trees throughout the BPU service territory in an attempt to minimize the number of electrical outages caused by tree branches contacting power lines.

The BPU’s trimming is performed according to guidelines established by tree specialists in order to avoid potentially hazardous situations created when branches come close to or actually touch utility power lines. Trees and power lines can co-exist and potential conflicts can be avoided by selecting and planting trees with size and growth characteristics appropriate to their locations.

Tree branches contacting electrical wires are one of the main reasons for power outages, not just in our community but all over the world. The Jamestown Parks Department, the Board of Public Utilities and the utility's contractor, Asplundh are working to trim trees throughout the BPU service territory. The Parks Department has identified trees that are sick or dying and marked them for removal and tree trimming crews are trimming away branches in an attempt to minimize the number of electrical outages caused by limbs touching power lines. Please be assured that the trimming away from power lines is performed following guidelines established by tree specialists. When a tree's branches come close to or actually touch utility power lines, a potentially hazardous situation is created. Trees and power lines can coexist and potential conflicts can be avoided by selecting and planting trees with size and growth characteristics appropriate to their location. Everyone should avoid planting trees under or near existing power lines.

The BPU does not remove trees that are located in the terrace (between the sidewalk and the curb) or on private property. The BPU is responsible for trimming around our utilities.

Some customers believe that the BPU will remove a tree from their private property because the tree is dead or overgrown, but this is not the case. If the tree is on private property, the property owner is responsible to have the tree removed. The BPU is more than happy to work with the tree removal company by disconnecting the customer’s service line for safety reasons at no charge to the customer. If the tree is in the terrace, the property owner should contact the representative (see below) for the correct area. Each district has its own stipulations regarding tree removals in the terrace.

City of Jamestown – Dan Stone, Parks Department, 483-7525
Town of Ellicott – Clerk’s Office, 665-5317
Village of Celoron – Clerk’s Office, 487-4175
Village of Falconer – Clerk’s Office, 665-3000

Through or "V" pruning literally creates a branch free hole through the tree's canopy, preserving its overall structure and beauty while allowing utility wires to pass through.

Side pruning is often done when a tree is located close beside utility lines. When carefully done the lines remain clear and much of the trees canopy can be retained.

The lower branches of large trees can be pruned to remove branches that may interfere with utility lines. By carefully removing lower branches from all sides of the tree, a balanced natural appearance can be maintained.

Power from Water

Approximately 80 to 90 percent of Jamestown’s electricity comes from the Niagara Power Project at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, utilizing water diverted from the Niagara River.

A division of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the Niagara Power Project provides the most electricity in New York State. Its clean hydropower is produced by diverting Niagara River water into two reservoirs. The water is released from the reservoirs and passes through 25 combined turbines spun by 748,000 gallons of water per second.

NYPA sells the power to state facilities, to municipal and rural electric cooperatives and to municipally-owned utilities such as Jamestown. Jamestown is one of forty-seven municipal electric systems and four rural electric cooperatives around the state that benefit from the reliable, economical and clean hydropower.

Jamestown and other communities surrounding these major generation facilities in the Niagara Region have long-term power purchase agreements for clean hydropower at favorable rates.

The 2,400,000-Kilowatt Niagara Power Project was the largest hydropower complex in the Western World when it began operating in 1961.

Tour the Electric Distribution System

Producing electricity for the BPU franchise territory is only half the story. In order for our customers to utilize this resource it must be distributed. To understand the scope of the electric distribution system, consider this:

  • The BPU has nine neighborhood substations located strategically throughout its franchise territory.

  • There are 21,635 meters to measure the power sold to consumers.

  • Power is distributed using 3,083 neighborhood and customer transformers. 2722 OH and 361PM

  • 811.93 miles of overhead wire and 78.86 miles of underground cable.

  • There are also 19.64 miles of overhead wire and 39.43 miles of underground cable delivering electricity for street lighting.

  • The overhead wire is supported by approximately 11,492 poles.
  • The Board of Public Utilities' Samuel A. Carlson Electric Generating Station is capable of generating 40 - 58 megawatts electricity utilizing the gas turbine. The Dow Street Intertie connects the station via three underground tie lines or two overhead lines to the New York power grid over National Grid power lines. The Jamestown system is entitled to receive 72 megawatts of hydropower from the power station at Niagara Falls. When the Carlson Generating Station is producing excess power to sell on the grid, the power travels from the plant to Dow Street and out to the grid over the same lines.

    The electricity produced travels out to nine neighborhood distribution substations at 13,800 volts. These substations are located throughout the service territory with Falconer and the vicinity fed by lines originating from the Dow Street Intertie and the remainder of Jamestown is supplied from lines originating at the Carlson Generating Station. The substations reduce the power to 4160 volts. This voltage is distributed to individual neighborhoods.

    Individual industrial transformers receive the utility's 13,800 volt distribution voltage and step it down to a usable voltage for that business. These transformers make it possible to serve different types of customers at the voltage each requires.

    Neighborhood pole top transformers further reduce the voltage to 120 and 240 volts, allowing the electricity to be used in homes and smaller businesses. If you have ever wondered why your power was out and your neighbor on the next street has power, it is because a line break or transformer failure only affects the small number of homes fed by that unit.

Gas Turbine

At the heart of the new flexible system design is a General Electric LM6000 turbine generator. Though modified to produce mechanical torque as opposed to thrust, the engine is the same that you would find on large jet aircraft.

The turbine is coupled to a Deltak heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) which uses the exhaust heat from the LM6000, and some additional gas firing, to produce steam to power a steam turbine generator, which already exists as part of the current plant. The gas turbine can be run in simple cycle, with the HRSG, with an efficient operating range between approximately 21.5 and 43 megawatts. The gas turbine can be run in combined cycle, with the HRSG, to add approximately 22 megawatts of additional gas-produced electricity.

A gas turbine generator in simplest form harvests the power of expanding air to provide mechanical torque to spin a shaft.

Air is drawn into the low pressure compressor where it begins to build pressure by being forced into a smaller and smaller space. The high pressure compressor continues the process until the air has reached sufficient pressure. At this point, it enters the combustion chamber where fuel is burned. The resulting increase in temperature causes the air to expand rapidly. This expansion is the power source that drives the engine. The high pressure turbine uses the power from the expanding gas to spin the shaft connected to the high pressure compressor. The expanding air leaves the engine through the low pressure turbine. This power is transferred back to the front of the engine via a shaft to drive the low pressure compressor and the generator.

There are no physical connections between the low and high pressure sides of the turbine. Just like a fan slowly turning in the breeze on a summer's day, the force of the air turns the turbine blades.

Steam Turbine

Steam enters the turbine from the boilers into a series of valves. These valves are controlled by the governor with regulates the amount of steam passing through the turbine in order to maintain the constant speed required to generate power at 60 cycles per second.

A turbine is a series of fixed and rotating blades that extract the mechanical and thermal energy from the steam. The steam at 900psi and 900°F enters the small end of the turbine and expands through to the larger blades until the steam exits the turbine at 100°F in a near-perfect vacuum with 90% of energy extracted.

The generator is a large coil of copper wire that has a direct current magnet spinning at 3600 rpm in its center. Moving any conductor through a magnetic field produces an electric current. In the BPU generators, the conductors (copper wires) are stationary and the magnetic field rotates past them.

The field exciter supplies direct current power to the electromagnet to produce the magnetic field within the generator. By adjusting the voltage supplied, the exciter controls the alternating current voltage output by the generator.

The turning gear is used when the turbine generator is NOT on line (not running). Its purpose is to turn the magnet and the turbine at a slow speed to prevent warping.

Electricity from Gas

Air Intake

To prevent icing on the compressor blades, outside air passes through the pre-heaters to be warmed when the ambient air temperature is below 43°F.258,000 cubic feet of air per minute continually passes through the pre-heater and enters the filter banks where it is cleaned. Ambient air must be filtered to keep the engine as clean as possible as a clean engine is an efficient engine.

The filter bank is composed of 120 filters, each filter resembling those used on large diesel engines or semi-tractor trailers.

Filtered air enters the engine through the air intake, passing stationary blades to direct it at "the most efficient angle of attack" for initial compression.


Liquids are removed from the natural gas using a mechanical moisture separator and then methanol injection is used to remove whatever remains. At full load, the gas turbine requires 250,000 cfm of fuel supplied at 675 psi (pounds of pressure per square inch). This high pressure fuel is delivered to the engine through a 4" fuel line. The fuel line meets the fuel header where the gas is distributed to 30 fuel nozzles.


Water is injected before the high pressure compressor to cool the turbine allowing increased horse power. Water is also injected into the combustion chamber to control NOx emissions.

Water entering the engine must be extremely clean and free of dissolved minerals, i.e. calcium, which are normally present in tap water. All water used in the engine goes through reverse osmosis (passes through a membrane which allows the water to flow through, but not most minerals).

The water next undergoes demineralization. The water passes through resins and the positive and negatively charged minerals are attracted to and attach to the resin beads. This demineralized water is held in storage until needed. When called upon to be used, the water again goes through the demineralization process to be sure it hasn't picked up any contaminants from the pipes and tanks.

Power Generation

The gas turbine engine is connected to the generator, which is a coil of copper wire with an electromagnet in the center. The combustion turbine engine spins the magnet at 3600 rpm exciting the electrons in the coils producing 60 cycle (hertz) power at 13,800 volts.

Power generated from the combustion turbine generator is transmitted to a step up transformer which increases the voltage to 34,500 volts for transmission to BPU distribution switchgear.

These high voltages require specialized cable to prevent the electricity from shorting to ground.

Combined Cycle

Thousands of cubic feet of exhaust exit the gas turbine at 800°F every second of operation it would be a shame not to take advantage of this energy. By channeling the hot exhaust through a Deltak heat recovery steam generator another 30% of the energy is reclaimed from the natural gas being burned.

An 8 foot valve channels the exhaust out the bypass stack until the turbine reaches peak output. The door is then retracted and the hot exhaust flows through a series of four heat exchangers roughly the size of a 2 story home. This is where the system shows it versatility. The heat exchangers can preheat the boilers, provide district heat boil water to steam and then superheat that steam to run an additional generator next door. The gases exit up the rear stack at 300°F with 63% of the heat reclaimed.

Electric Division History

The Board of Public Utilities’ Samuel A. Carlson Electric Generating Station is one of the oldest and most successful municipal power plants in the country and, the City of Jamestown’s BPU is the largest of 47 municipally-owned and operated utilities in New York State.

The City’s first power plant began generating electricity in 1891 to provide power for 140 carbon arc lights to illuminate downtown streets. While street lighting was not new to the citizens, their excitement was in the ownership of the municipal facility. When city fathers realized the expense of paying for machinery used only to produce electricity at night, they decided to begin competing with established power producers for other uses of the generation.

The Board of Public Utilities was created by the City Charter of 1923 to guide the development of the community’s electric and water services with the District Heat Division added in 1985 and Solid Waste and Wastewater added in 1994.

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