New York’s electricity grid should be the envy of the nation, but right now in many respects it is a traffic nightmare comparable to the Cross Bronx Expressway during rush hour.
Surplus power produced in upstate and Western New York is unable to reach densely populated parts of downstate New York because of traffic bottlenecks. The losers, unfortunately, are homeowners and businesses who end up paying more for electricity than is necessary because of congestion few can comprehend.
There is, however, good news on the horizon. In October the New York State Public Service Commission green-lighted significant improvements to the state’s electrical infrastructure when it approved more than $500 million worth of new power lines and transmission upgrades.
Historically, this move is long overdue. The Ramapo line just approved was originally proposed for expansion more than 30 years ago. While some say things can move slowly in New York, the important thing is that this project is moving ahead now.
And – if you’re in favor of markets and efficiencies – then this project is ideal.
The development of new infrastructure will send clear price signals to energy investors that New York’s markets can be price competitive and will benefit ratepayers across the state with improved electrical reliability.
The PSC estimates that the new transmissions lines would create $260 million in economic benefits to consumers over the course of 15 years and an astonishing $640 million over 40 years.
Another development is the creation of a new power capacity zone in New York, as ordered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The zone will incentivize owners of idle and under-utilized plants to ramp up production. This could have a positive economic impact and create a more reliable electric system, while countering the export of jobs and dollars from New York.
Hopefully these developments will move New York forward in terms of electric supply infrastructure and produce significant benefits for consumers and the state economy.