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Chilocco - Today and Yesterday
Chilocco’s Small Power Plant

The smooth waters of the lake spread out behind the academic building and the small power plant that provided electricity for the boarding school of Chilocco. As it is with bodies of water the usual activity of wild life around its borders was proliferate. There were geese bobbing along in the quiet tiny swells and fish flopping, occasionally. An unseen frog might plop himself into the murky edges of it as I walked by.

As a student in 1955 my detail was an assignment to work in the office which was little more than delivering memorandums or messages to the various offices around the oval. It was a great job because it usually meant I would be able to get out doors to enjoy the fresh air and lovely campus.

The hard conditions in the rural around Ponca City, Oklahoma were no longer in my every-day thoughts. Long cold walks through freezing weather or blazing heat to school was a forgotten memory. This beautiful paradise was now my home and I enjoyed every moment.

Some college came and went. Dad was injured at work and I had to go to work. My application for a job in the office where I had worked before was given to me on a short appointment while the regular girl was off on maternity-leave. The duties now were more pressing as I learned to operate some of the ancient machinery. Endless copies to go out to the 120 employees was a job in itself but was necessary to keep the employees united. It was a joke, “If a bug crawls across the campus at mid-night everyone is to know about it through memorandums or such.”

The day was entirely beautiful with soft, warm spring breezes making the out-doors almost irresistible. Dr. Wall must have seen my longing glances out the second floor windows as I watched the activity around the lake because he called me into his office.

“I have a private memorandum for Mr. Lacy. Do you think you can deliver it for me?”

“YES!” I’m thinking.

A small office space was a building within a building at one corner of the Power Plant and this was Mr. Lacy’s office. Child that I was I had no idea of the mechanics or operation of this small plant. All I knew was that it was an opportunity to enjoy a change of scenery. The overly large building was cold and unfriendly but the small office area of the plant was always bustling with activity. As time went on I was to learn of the responsibility to come through the doors of this small office. Literally, it was the life blood of the school and provided the power to make the functioning for our privileged living possible in such an easy and seemingly unconcerned way no one even thought about it.

The New York City generators—at two sites in the Bronx, two in Brooklyn, one in Queens and one on Staten Island—are the cleanest, simple-cycle plants in the city. The Long Island unit is located in Brentwood, in the Town of Islip.

PowerNow! Small, Clean Plants

PowerNow! power plant photoWe increased our generating capacity by about 450 megawatts during summer 2001 when we began operating small, clean natural gas-powered generating plants at six sites in New York City and one on Long Island.

We had launched a crash program in late August 2000 to install these PowerNow! plants in response to warnings from officials in the public and private sectors that the New York City metropolitan area could face power shortages in the summer of 2001.

Similar warnings were repeated throughout the 10 months it took to obtain, site, design and install the units—a process that normally would require more than two years.

Meeting the need for electricity The small plants proved invaluable during an August 2001 heat wave, when temperatures—and electricity use—soared to new highs, and in the summer of 2002, when Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority each set records for three-month electricity use.

The units again proved their worth in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, when the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which runs the state’s transmission system, limited deliveries of electricity into the area from upstate plants. During the great northeast blackout in August 2003, the plant's helped return power to New York City while stabilizing the downstate transmission system. They have helped strengthen the power system at other times during day-to-day operations.

The New York City generators—at two sites in the Bronx, two in Brooklyn, one in Queens and one on Staten Island—are the cleanest, simple-cycle plants in the city. The Long Island unit is located in Brentwood, in the Town of Islip.

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