Bold announcements highlight importance of distributed renewables and transmission lines

wind and solar
Snippet from the Clean Path New York website. Credit: CPNY

New York Governor Kathy Hochul directs NYSERDA to chart a path for the state to install 10 GW of distributed solar capacity by 2030; also announces partners to build two transmission lines to power NYC with wind, solar and hydropower from upstate NY and Canada.

Even though a recent New York Times article attempted to pit large-scale renewable energy development against distributed renewable energy development, clean energy insiders know that both avenues are being pursued and will be needed in order to deliver a future powered by renewable energy.

Those two paths couldn’t be more clearly on display this week as New York’s Governor Hochul made two important announcements to kick off Climate Week.

The first announcement expands the NY-Sun program with a goal to power the state with 10 GW of distributed solar energy capacity by 2030. Expanding the program is expected to help the state’s economic recovery following Covid-19 with the creation of an additional 6,000 solar jobs beyond the 12,000 that now exist across the state, a portion of which will be ongoing operations and maintenance jobs which will remain throughout the 25+ year project lifespans, said NYSERDA in a press release.

The program expansion will also deliver at least 35 percent of the benefits from the investments to and low-to moderate- income New Yorkers.

Former CEO of Vermont utility Green Mountain Power, Mary Powell, who recently took the reins of Sunrun as CEO, applauded the news: “This expansion shows the state’s commitment to providing equitable access to clean energy options like rooftop solar and batteries as a critical component of meeting the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. New Yorkers expect strong leadership to address climate change while also creating economic opportunities across the state, and Governor Hochul is delivering on both,” she said in a statement.

Two New Transmission Lines

Governor Kathy Hochul also announced two major green energy infrastructure projects to power New York City with wind, solar and hydropower from upstate New York and Canada. If approved, NYSERDA said that these transmission lines could create up to 10,000 jobs and bring $8.2 billion in economic activity to support disadvantaged communities, which have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

The two underground transmission lines are Clean Path NY (CPNY), developed by Forward Power (a joint venture of Invenergy and EnergyRe) and the New York Power Authority, and Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE), developed by Transmission Developers, Inc. (backed by Blackstone) and Hydro-Québec.

CPNY’s 174-mile transmission line will run from the Fraser Substation in Delaware County to the Rainey Substation in Queens using existing rights-of-way, which will mitigate potential local community impacts, avoid sensitive habitats along the Hudson River, and be more resilient than above-ground alternatives in the face of severe weather and security threats.

Related: NY transmission developer creates $270M fund for job training, education, community health and the environment

CHPE is a permitted 339-mile buried cable, both underground and underwater, transmission line that runs from Hydro-Quebec’s wind and hydropower resources in the Province of Quebec to the Astoria Energy Center in Queens.

Jon Gray, President and Chief Operating Officer of Blackstone said in a statement: “We love being a part of New York City’s move to a cleaner energy future. Our long term capital allows us to invest in sustainable projects and see them through to completion. We’ve backed this innovative project for more than a decade while also committing to nearly $11 billion of energy transition initiatives globally, just in the last three years.”

Blackstone also owns Clarion Events, producer of DISTRIBUTECH International and POWERGEN International, set to take place in Dallas, Texas, January 26-28, 2022.  Register here.

If approved, the CPNY and CHPE projects will add to New York’s existing pipeline of large-scale renewable energy, comprised of nearly 100 solar, land-based wind and offshore wind projects totaling 11 GW of clean power capacity. 

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Jennifer Runyon is a Content Director at Clarion Energy, writing, editing and posting content on POWERGRID International and planning conference sessions for DISTRIBUTECH's live and virtual events. She as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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