National Grid rebuild project moves forward in New York

New York state regulators on September 19 adopted the terms of a joint proposal granting National Grid USA approval to rebuild about 14 miles of two 115-kV electric transmission lines in Saratoga and Washington counties in New York.

A National Grid spokesperson told TransmissionHub September 20 that the state Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the “Article VII designation” for the project, noting that the next part of the process is for the company to submit an environmental management and construction plan for the transmission project.

“We’re planning on submitting that sometime in October,” the spokesperson said. “That will have more details of the route. We cannot start construction until the plan is approved. If approved, our schedule [calls for the company] to begin construction in the fall 2014 and it would take somewhere between 12 and 18 months to complete.”

The PSC said in its September 19 statement that National Grid filed in February 2011 its application seeking to rebuild the lines between the Mohican substation in Saratoga County and the Battenkill substation in Washington County to relieve current and projected load constraints in the northeast region of the state.

In response to several deficiencies with its initial application, the company filed a supplement to its application in May 2011, and the application was deemed complete.

The PSC also said that following public statement hearings in July 2011, National Grid and parties began settlement negotiations that ultimately led to the filing of a joint proposal signed by National Grid, the state Department of Public Service staff, Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

According to the application, Niagara Mohawk d/b/a National Grid, the lines involved are the Mohican-to-Battenkill Line 15 and a portion of the Mohican-to-North-Troy Line 3.

The existing lines are located in about 14.2 miles of right-of-way (ROW), with some additional ROW immediately adjacent to one or both side of the existing ROW required to expand the existing ROW for the project. National Grid added that it proposes, where possible, to build Line 15 and the Line 3 segment as they are proposed to be modified by the project on a new double circuit structure line in a location on the project ROW offset from the line of structures for the existing lines.

With the exception of 5,000 feet at the northern end of the existing ROW that National Grid holds by easement, National Grid owns the existing ROW in fee.

The environmental studies and environmental impact assessment for the project done by National Grid and its consultant ESS Group concluded that the construction and operation of the project will result in limited, temporary adverse environmental effects, which will occur primarily during the construction phase.

Because National Grid has designed the project to be built and operated within existing transmission corridors and has proposed certain mitigation measures, the company has minimized the potential for the project to result in adverse impacts in such areas as land uses, visual resources and cultural resources.

“This project is among the most immediate of a number of planned reinforcements that will address the current and long-range needs of the northeast region,” the company added. “Failure to complete the project will expose Line 15 to post-contingency thermal overloads, which could physically damage Line 15, and cause interruption of electric service to thousands of customers in the Northeast Region.”

According to the May 31, 2013 joint proposal, the project is expected to cost about $31.5 million.

The project is needed to help relieve the current thermal and projected load constraints in National Grid’s northeast region, which encompasses the Greater Saratoga area and parts of Schenectady and Rensselaer counties, the company said in the document.

Other reinforcements to the area include the addition of the new Spier-Rotterdam 115-kV circuit that recently received a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, and the addition of the proposed Eastover Rd 230-115-kV station near North Troy.

Power flow analyses done by National Grid that encompass load growth through 2012 show the need for the project. Applying a scenario with the proposed Eastover Rd 230-115-kV station and the new Spier Falls-to-Rotterdam 115-kV circuit, the analyses still show a reduction in the thermal capacity of Line 15 beginning in summer 2012, though with the worse-case post-contingency flow for Line 15 being between its long-term and short-term emergency ratings.

National Grid is a unit of National Grid plc.

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