New York Commission Approves First Round of Power Transmission Replacements

Dec. 21, 2015
The first round of replacements, listed below, does not include the planned work in the Auburn area that is the justification for keeping Cayuga power plant temporarily open.

The New York State Public Service Commission has voted to further its Alternating Current Transmission Proceeding, which will now advance to a competitive process managed by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO).

The first round of replacements, listed below, does not include the planned work in the Auburn area that is the justification for keeping Cayuga power plant temporarily open.

This action limited the new transmission lines to replacement and upgrading of existing lines within existing rights-of-way, and adding new substation facilities at several locations, which will reduce or eliminate adverse environmental, landowner, and economic impacts. The proposed project provides $1.20 in benefits for every dollar that it costs.

“Much like a traffic jam on a crowded highway, our existing system of antiquated transmission lines are simply too congested to allow electricity being produced upstate to move to where demand is greatest,” said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman. “Improving the transmission system will reduce this problem, resulting in lower electricity costs for the average customer, while helping to reduce emissions and improve the environment.”

The state-of-the-art improvements proposed for 156 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, representing the backbone of the State’s electric transmission system running west to east and north to south, will provide numerous benefits including reducing grid congestion and allowing lower-cost electricity and renewable electricity being produced in upstate New York to flow to millions of downstate customers.

The upgrades provide many energy, economic development, and environmental benefits, such as:

  • Promoting job growth and the development of new efficient generation resources upstate;
  • Reducing environmental and health impacts by eliminating less efficient electric generation;
  • Enhancing system reliability, flexibility, and efficiency;
  • Increasing diversity in supply, including additional renewable resources;
  • Enhancing resiliency/storm hardening and taking better advantage of existing fuel diversity;
  • Reducing production costs through congestion relief and reduced capacity resource costs;
  • Improving market competition;
  • Improving preparedness for and mitigation of impacts of generator retirements.

Included within the Department’s review process, staff analyzed 4,500 comments and documents submitted in the proceeding, as well as participating in more than a dozen town, stakeholder and technical conferences. In terms of public participation, the proceeding was one of the largest in Commission history, with more than 30 staff members assigned and more than 120 individuals and organizations participating. To foster broader public participation, more than $2.3 million was made available to municipalities, community groups and environmental advocates to develop a full and complete record.

Using existing rights-of-way, the transmission upgrade will have two primary segments: the first segment runs approximately 91 miles starting in Oneida County, through Herkimer, Montgomery and Schenectady counties, and ending in Albany County; the second segment runs 51 miles starting in Rensselaer County, through Columbia County and ending in Dutchess County. A related upgraded line runs 11 miles in Orange County. Any successful vendor will need to obtain final siting permits from the PSC.

Upgrading the backbone of the State’s transmission system was called for as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Energy Highway Blueprint initiative. It is also an important building block under Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), Governor Cuomo’s long-term strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.

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