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NYPA's Clean Energy Transmission Infrastructure Investment Reaches Halfway Milestone

Nov. 17, 2021
Stronger transmission lines with a smaller footprint bring added resiliency against storms.

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the halfway mark milestone in the construction of the New York Power Authority's Smart Path transmission project in the North Country. The Smart Path project is an upgrade of 78 miles of transmission lines which span from Massena in St. Lawrence County to Croghan in Lewis County.

With fewer poles made out of steel, the project will harden the lines against weather events and enable the secure transmission of clean energy from northern New York into the state's electric power grid. The project will strengthen the grid and help advance New York's clean energy goals, as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Construction on Smart Path upgrades began in early 2020 and are on track to be completed in 2023, despite challenges posed by COVID-19.  

"Our state boasts a generous supply of clean hydropower, and transmission lines like the Smart Path project will help us meet our clean energy goals and combat the effects of climate change," Governor Hochul said. "We are working to make these lines reliable and resilient so that once we have all the clean power we need, we have a way to deliver it safely and cost-effectively to the areas across the state that need it - while creating family-sustaining, clean energy jobs for New Yorkers in the process."   

The celebration of these Smart Path milestones follows Governor Hochul's Climate Week announcement of the selection of two new major transmission line projects to help transport clean energy to New York City, including Clean Path New York, developed by Forward Power (a joint venture of Invenergy and EnergyRe) and the New York Power Authority and the Champlain Hudson Express Transmission Project. If approved by the Public Service Commission, these transmission projects will help advance New York's goal of obtaining 70% of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and realizing a zero-emission energy grid by 2040. 

NYPA Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, "The ambitious Smart Path transmission line rebuild project is critically important to the resiliency of New York's north-south transmission system. Every project milestone is an occasion for celebration, because each time we complete a section, New York State's transmission system becomes stronger, more reliable and efficient." 

Eugene L. Nicandri, NYPA Trustee said, "I am very proud of the progress we have made on the Smart Path project. We are steadily gaining traction on upgrading this important line so that more renewables can come onto the grid and we can move ahead with advancing New York's energy and climate leadership goals." 

The New York Power Authority is also working with National Grid on a separate but connected transmission project involving the rebuild of about 100 miles of transmission lines in the North Country and the Mohawk Valley. The project -known as Smart Path Connect- runs East-West from Clinton to Massena and North-South from Croghan to Marcy. When completed, the two segments of Smart Path Connect will join the Smart Path project, creating one continuous upgraded transmission line from Clinton to Marcy. The Smart Path Connect project is currently under environmental review with the New York Public Service Commission. 

Phase one of the Smart Path project involves rebuilding about 78 miles of the total 86-mile transmission artery that was constructed originally by the federal government in 1942. Phase two of the Smart Path project will be completed as part of the Smart Path Connect project and will upgrade an additional six miles of 230 kV transmission lines to 345 kV.

The Smart Path line was the first asset acquired by the Power Authority in 1950. Running north to south through St. Lawrence and Lewis counties in the North Country, the newly rebuilt lines will connect economical, clean and renewable energy into the statewide power system, including low-cost hydropower from NYPA's St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project as well as power from newly constructed renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. 

Construction involves the replacement of the original H-frame wood poles, some of which are more than 80 years old with single steel monopoles in the existing right of way. The project, which includes high-voltage transmission lines from Massena to Croghan, has created hundreds of jobs during construction. The rebuilt lines will be capable of transmitting up to 345 kV. They will be operated in the near-term at the 230 kV level until the completion of the Smart Path Connect project. Together the lines are currently rated to carry 900 MW during the winter months--enough clean electricity to power up to 900,000 averaged-sized homes. This ability to increase the voltage when the demand requires it is a cost-effective way to add on more renewable power, especially from in-state renewable generation, anywhere along the transmission line, as New York continues to advance its clean energy goals. 

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Business Manager Bill Brown, Jr. said, “The members of the IBEW Local 2032 have done a tremendous job maintaining and operating these lines for more than six decades. A modernized transmission line will only strengthen NYPA’s ability to provide clean, safe, reliable, low-cost hydro power for New York that is supported by the modern-day workforce.”

New York State Senate Energy Chair Kevin Parker said, "In many respects NYPA's Smart Path transmission line rebuild can be regarded as a prototype for similar transmission projects across the state. The tremendous progress made on this project bodes well for the other transmission projects and for New Yorkers everywhere who depend on these new lines for delivery of clean, reliable power." 

New York State Assembly Energy Chair Michael J. Cusick said, "I am glad to see the progress NYPA is making on this critical energy infrastructure. New York is making great progress on projects like Smart Path, part of a 'green energy superhighway' that will help reduce the state's dependence on fossil fuels and help us to achieve our climate and energy goals." 

State Senator Joe Griffo said, "This project will rebuild critical transmission lines and will enhance and strengthen New York's electric power grid and improve resiliency. I will continue to monitor this project as it progresses." 

State Senator Patty Richie said, "I am pleased the Power Authority is continuing to make progress on the Smart Path transmission project. This is a project that will help facilitate the flow of more clean energy across our state and make our transmission infrastructure more resilient. Not only that, but this project has helped to create hundreds of construction jobs that are continuing to provide a much needed boost to the North Country economy."

Assemblymember Mark Walczyk said, "Congratulations to the Power Authority on reaching this milestone on schedule. The laborers and leaders kept this critical transmission project progressing through all the adversity the last year has brought and all New Yorkers will benefit from a stronger, and more reliable power distribution system as a result of their hard work." 

President AFLCIO Central Trades and Labor Council for Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties, Ron McDougall said, "I have been pleased to see the improvements that have been made as a result of Smart Path project. The new towers are modern and will strengthen the transmission system. I applaud NYPA for its use of local businesses and local unions who have contributed to the success of the project. Once complete, New York will have a modern and resilient electric grid that will support the economy for years to come."

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