PSC Approves $710M in Downstate, Upstate Power Line Projects
Real Estate In-Depth | February 12, 2021
NEW YORK—The New York State Public Service Commission on Thursday, Feb. 11 approved two transmission line projects, one in the Capital District-Hudson Valley region and another in Western New York that will cost more than $700 million to complete.
The PSC approved the New York Energy Solution Project—a 54.5-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line valued at an estimated $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 commission at its Feb. 11 session 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-kilovolt electric transmission line, located in Niagara and Erie counties and valued at an estimated $180 million, that will help relieve congestion and maximize the flow of renewable resources in Western New York.
The approvals are the final set of major approvals required to commence construction on the 250 miles of the green energy transmission superhighway Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his 2021 State of the State address last month.
The New York Energy Solution Project transmission 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.
New York Transco will work with Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. and Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation 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, state officials noted. The project will be operational by the end of 2023.
New York Transco President Victor Mullin said, “Governor Cuomo’s vision and strong leadership have led us to this important milestone. New York Transco is grateful for the thorough review provided by the Public Service Commission, Department of Public Service and other State agencies, as well as the engagement of the host communities, businesses and residents. We stand ready to begin construction and advance New York’s renewable energy future.”
The Empire State Line will help relieve congestion and maximize the flow of renewable resources in Western New York, including hydroelectric power from the New York Power Authority’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.
The 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, state officials said.
“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,” Gov. 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 helping to create new jobs.”
In addition to approving the New York Energy Solution Project and the Empire State Line, the commission also took two other noteworthy transmission actions, including:
• Approved the environmental management and construction plan filed by LS Power Grid New York, LLC, LS Power Grid New York Corporation I, and the New York Power Authority, 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 January 21, 2021;
• 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 steps enacted by the commission on Feb. 11 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 today 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 New York Power Authority’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 also will be complemented by the Northern New York Priority Transmission Project, an over 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.
Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieving its mandated goal of a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy-wide carbon neutrality.
This builds on New York’s ramp-up of clean energy including more than $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 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. Under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% from 1990 levels by 2050, while meeting a goal to deliver 40% of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities and advancing progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs in end-use savings.