piyaphat50/Getty Images
Getty Images 502814339

New York Commission Approves 54-Mile Transmission Line

Feb. 15, 2021
Power line to enable greater flow of clean energy to consumers downstate and help combat climate change.

The New York State Public Service Commission recently approved the New York Energy Solution Project — a 54.5-mile, 345-kV transmission line valued at an estimated US$530 million — starting in Rensselaer County and extending to Dutchess County to speed the flow of clean, reliable energy to high-demand markets and consumers downstate.

The Public Service Commission also granted NextEra Energy Transmission New York, Inc., the necessary approvals to exercise municipal agreements to construct the Empire State Line — a 20-mile, 345-kV electric transmission line, located in Niagara and Erie counties and valued at an estimated US$180 million — that will help relieve congestion and maximize the flow of renewable resources in Western New York. These approvals are the final set of major approvals required to commence construction on the 250 miles of the green energy transmission superhighway this year, as announced in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's 2021 State of the State address.

These initiatives increase transmission capacity to move power more efficiently in keeping with the goals of both the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act to lower carbon emissions and combat climate change. These projects are also expected to stimulate the local and regional economy by increasing employment and earnings in the construction industry.

"New York is leading the nation in developing a green economy with key investments to enhance the reliability and resiliency of the state's energy infrastructure," Cuomo said. "These projects are essential to helping create our new green energy superhighway that will move electricity to high-demand areas efficiently while also reducing costs and creating new jobs."

In addition to approving the New York Energy Solution Project and the Empire State Line, the Commission also took two other notable transmission actions:

  • It approved the environmental management and construction plan filed by LS Power Grid New York, LLC, LS Power Grid New York Corp. I, and the New York Power Authority (NYPA), to construct and operate Segment II of the 93-mile transmission project known as the Marcy to New Scotland Transmission Upgrade Project. The overall project was approved by the Commission on Jan. 21, 2021.
  • It approved a fast-track for certain local transmission and distribution projects known as Phase 1 projects. Phase 1 projects are actionable projects that satisfy traditional reliability, safety, and compliance purposes but can also be accelerated or reprioritized to address bottlenecks or constraints that limit the delivery of renewable energy within a utility's system. The recent steps establish the process for cost recovery and allocation for such projects. The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act requires the Commission to, among other things, reorient transmission planning and investment toward the achievement of CLCPA targets.

Additionally, the three transmission project actions for New York Energy Solution Project, Empire State Line, and the Marcy to New Scotland Transmission Upgrade Project build off of the prior approval of the NYPA's Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability Project — a vital 86-mile stretch of New York's North-South power transmission system and the fourth project within the 250 miles of transmission projects in construction this year.

These new lines will also be complemented by the Northern New York Priority Transmission Project, a more than 100-mile new transmission upgrade project at the top of the state that includes the rebuild of existing transmission lines and expansion of several substations, enabling existing wind and solar resources from the North Country region to be added to the grid and allowing for new renewable energy projects to be connected in the future.

The New York Energy Solution Project, owned by New York Transco, will alleviate electricity bottlenecks that currently exist and allow for greater use of clean energy produced upstate while also improving grid resiliency and storm hardening. It will upgrade and replace existing 80-year-old structures with about 230 fewer, more modern structures. The project will be in existing electric transmission corridors or on adjacent utility-owned land in the Town of Schodack in Rensselaer County; the Towns of Stuyvesant, Stockport, Ghent, Claverack, Livingston, Gallatin, and Clermont in Columbia County; and the Towns of Milan, Clinton, and Pleasant Valley in Dutchess County.

The Empire State Line will help relieve congestion and maximize the flow of renewable resources in Western New York, including hydroelectric power from the NYPA's Niagara Power Project, and from electricity imports from Ontario. The transmission project will involve construction of the transmission line and associated switchyards in the Town of Royalton in Niagara County and the Towns of Alden, Newstead, Lancaster, and Elma in Erie County.

New York Transco will work with Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc., and Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. to develop additional, related infrastructure upgrades previously required by the Commission. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers supports the project because it will create many well-paying construction jobs for New Yorkers. The project is expected to be operational by the end of 2023.

Public Service Commission Chair John B. Rhodes said, "Governor Cuomo's nation-leading work to create a clean, green economy requires smart new transmission investments to connect renewable power to customers. The project we approved delivers that power and provides significant positive job and climate benefits for all New Yorkers."

Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the NYPA, said: "Building new transmission infrastructure to integrate more renewable energy into the state electric grid is critical for us to achieve the governor's bold 70% renewable electricity by 2030 goal. The NYPA is pleased to see the New York Energy Solution project and the Empire State Line move forward. With Smart Path, the Marcy to New Scotland Transmission Upgrade Project and the recent commencement of the Northern New York Priority Transmission Project, we are initiating the clean energy superhighway that is needed to modernize our grid, and ensure that it is resilient, reliable, and affordable for the next generations of New Yorkers."

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!