Construction has begun on the Empire State Line, a US$180 million project to upgrade the energy transmission system serving Western New York with a new 345-kV transmission line across 20 miles in Erie County and Niagara County.
The project — announced in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's 2021 State of the State address — is designed to increase transmission capacity and help deliver more renewable hydroelectric power throughout Western New York. It will also stimulate the local and regional economies by creating and supporting clean-energy construction jobs.
Developed by NextEra Energy Transmission New York, Inc., (NEETNY) this project puts New York on track to meet its goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which includes a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2040, 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality.
"Building a clean, reliable transmission system for New York is a critically important part of combatting climate change and meeting our nation-leading clean energy goals," Cuomo said. "The Empire State Line is an integral part of a new energy superhighway being built to move clean energy across the state more efficiently — while also creating new jobs and opportunities for New Yorkers that will help to reinvigorate our local and statewide economies."
"As we focus on our economic recovery, we must confront the effects of climate change that threaten our communities," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The state-of-the-art Empire State Transmission Line is an example of New York's commitment to boosting clean energy, creating jobs, reducing emissions, and building a greener, more resilient future."
The Empire State Line will run from the Town of Royalton in Niagara County through the towns of Alden, Newstead, Lancaster, and Elma in Erie County. It will include a new 345-kV switchyard, the Dysinger Switchyard, in Niagara County, and a second new switchyard, the East Stolle Switchyard, in Erie County. The project will relieve transmission congestion in Western New York and allow for the integration of more renewable energy into the state's electric grid.
The New York State Public Service Commission approved a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the project at its January 21, 2021, meeting. Cuomo unveiled the proposal as part of his plan to rebuild New York in his 2021 State of the State, including a package of transmission projects across the state that will form New York's Green Energy Superhighway — 250 miles of planned investments that will create opportunities to maximize the use of renewable energy for parts of the state that rely heavily on fossil fuel plants. The Empire State Line is the final project within the 250 miles to commence construction and is expected to be complete and in service by June 2022.
Richard Allen, president of NEETNY, said: "We are thrilled to start construction on this important project, which plays a critical role in supporting the state's clean energy plans. NEETNY will continue to work with all interested stakeholders to make this project a reality."
The line will be carried by steel monopole structures, each 115-ft high. These structures are 40-ft higher on average and 15-ft narrower than traditional H-frame structures that carry long-distance electricity lines. Empire State Line construction activity is expected to employ around 120 to 150 workers. Many will be sourced from local labor organizations.
The transmission upgrade project builds on New York's ramp-up of clean energy including more than US$4 billion invested in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector, a commitment to develop 9000 MW of offshore wind by 2035, and 1800% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011.