New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last week announced plans to rebuild 78 miles of power transmission infrastructure in the North Country, further strengthening the reliability of the New York State electric power grid and enabling more upstate renewable energy to connect to the power system throughout the state. The newly rebuilt transmission line, called the Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability project, will help the state meet the Governor's Clean Energy Standard that mandates that 50 percent of New York's consumed electricity comes from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. Transmission projects like these can play a critical role in channeling power produced upstate - where increasing amounts of renewable energy is coming on line - to areas where it is needed downstate.
The Smart Path project is expected to create approximately 2,000 full-time jobs during development and construction. All construction is expected to take place on existing rights-of-way in order to minimize the impact on the environment and adjacent property and landowners. Additionally, the project will pursue an expedited permitting approach available to upgrades that do not expand rights-of-way. Construction is estimated to take four years and is slated to begin in 2019.
The Smart Path project, when completed, will run north to south through St. Lawrence and Lewis counties carrying renewable energy, including hydropower from NYPA's St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project and power from newly constructed wind farms, solar power projects and other large-scale renewable energy sources, from upstate to high-energy demand areas downstate.
With the state's focus on clean and renewable energy, the 2012 Energy Highway has now evolved into the Clean Energy Highway, which along with the Governor's Clean Energy Standard, is ensuring clean, cost effective energy is available to all New Yorkers. The Governor's Clean Energy Highway and Reforming the Energy Vision initiatives, as well as the 2015 New York State Energy Plan, provide a coordinated approach and business model for the State's rapidly evolving 21st-century electricity system while also applying a steadfast commitment to clean energy.
Richard L. Kauffman, New York State Chairman of Energy and Finance, said, "This Smart Path project supports the pioneering approach under Governor Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision to spur investments into a more innovative transmission system and infrastructure modernization to modernize the grid. These investments also help us add more distributed resources like wind and solar to the grid as we build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system, supporting good jobs and economic development across New York."
Early progress on the Clean Energy Highway has already been realized with the completion of several transmission projects, including the Marcy South Series Compensation Project and the Ramapo to Rock Tavern project. There are also two additional transmission solutions under evaluation for Western New York and the Central East and Upstate-Southeast regions. Additionally, the PSC has an open process to evaluate the need for further transmission development across the state, and many stakeholders, including NYPA, have advocated for continued strengthening of transmission assets in Northern New York. These projects will help ensure that energy from renewable rich areas of Western New York and Northern New York will have a more cost effective path to consumers, while also enabling the continued benefit of associated economic development programs.
"These new modernized transmission lines will ensure the continued reliability of New York's power system and help make Governor Cuomo's Clean Energy Highway vision a reality, by linking more new renewable energy sources to the grid," said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority. "This project is yet another example of NYPA's commitment to building reliable, clean energy infrastructure in New York State. Millions of New Yorkers rely on the energy transmission system every day, and we, at NYPA, are proud to continue to build, update and operate world-class power assets for the people of New York now and into the future, along with our like-minded clean energy partners."
The $440 million rebuild of the Moses-Adirondack transmission artery includes replacing 78 of the 86-miles on each of two transmission lines that were originally constructed by the federal government in 1942 and acquired by the Power Authority in 1953. The transmission lines run from Massena in St. Lawrence County, home to NYPA's St. Lawrence-FDR hydroelectric plant, to a substation in the Town of Croghan in Lewis County. The transmission lines are still supported in many areas by outmoded wooden poles that will be replaced with new steel monopole structures.
The new structures and conductors will be capable of transmitting up to 345 kV, but will be operated in the near-term at the current level of 230kV. This ability to increase the voltage when the demand requires is a cost-effective way to unlock more renewable power, especially in-state renewable generation and imports of hydro from Canada, to anywhere along the transmission line, as New York continues to advance its clean energy goals. NYPA worked with transmission owners in New York, including Con Ed, NYSEG, the Long Island Power Authority, National Grid and Central Hudson Gas & Electric, to obtain concurrence on the Smart Path design to support long-term expansion of renewable energy development.
"A robust transmission network is essential for New York's efforts to scale up and deploy renewable energy," said Rory Christian, Director, New York Clean Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. "This will increase opportunities to develop clean energy sources throughout the state, and connect the downstate region to existing affordable electricity generated in upstate New York."
"Transmission projects will play a critical role in ensuring that New York's abundant wind and solar resources can deliver electricity to customers throughout the state," said Jackson Morris, Director of Eastern Energy at Natural Resources Defense Council. "Connecting New Yorkers to electricity generated from pollution-free resources means cleaner air and healthier communities for all of us. This new project will be critical to helping to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil-fueled power plants, playing a key role in achieving Governor Cuomo's nation leading effort to deliver 50 percent of New York's electricity from renewables by 2030."