The New York State Public Service Commission chief administrative law judge, in a Jan. 4 ruling granted New York State Electric & Gas‘ October 2015 motion in which the company requested that the PSC hold in abeyance the Article VII proceeding to consider the construction of 11.1 miles of new 115-kV transmission line through Columbia County, pending the success or failure of a proposed alternative to the original proposal.
As TransmissionHub reported, NYSEG and other parties, including New York State Department of Public Service staff, have reached agreement on a joint stipulation involving the Columbia County Transmission Project, according to a July 30 letter filed with the PSC.
The joint stipulation, dated July 14, 2015, also includes the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the state Department of Agriculture & Markets, the Town of Ghent and the Columbia Land Conservancy Inc.
According to the joint stipulation, NYSEG in May 2012 filed with the PSC application documents, under Article VII of the New York Public Service Law and the PSC’s regulations thereunder, for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need that would authorize the construction and operation of 11.1 miles of new 115-kV transmission line in the towns of Ghent, Chatham and Stockport, as well as of a new switching station in Ghent, and the modification of an existing substation in Chatham, all in Columbia County, N.Y.
NYSEG filed supplements with the PSC in November and December 2012, and in March 2013. A procedural conference of the active parties was held before an administrative law judge in June 2013, and in September and October of that year, evidentiary hearings were held. In October 2013, DPS staff, NYSDAM and others filed alternative proposals with the PSC. Among other non-applicant alternatives filed, DPS staff proposed a 34.5-kV project (the “Original DPS Staff 34.5 kV Proposal”), the joint stipulation added.
In February 2014, NYSEG filed with the PSC a description of the methods that NYSEG intended to use in its assessment of the Original DPS Staff 34.5 kV Proposal. Later that month, NYSEG filed an updated version of that description, as well as a description of the methods it intended to use to assess the other 115-kV proposals among the non-applicant alternatives.
The joint stipulation further noted that settlement conferences were held in September, October and November in 2014, as well as last January and February. Technical conferences were held last January and February.
The stipulating parties believe that the parties’ various positions may be addressed by cooperatively focusing their joint efforts on a reduced-scope variation of the Original DPS Staff 34.5 kV Proposal, the joint stipulation added.
The joint stipulation said that the stipulating parties desire to continue in good faith to refine that variation, or the “modified 34.5 kV proposal,” with the refinement to include NYSEG’s development and the stipulating parties’ review and deliberation of conceptual designs of the three major components.
“Overall, the stipulating parties believe this joint stipulation gives fair and reasonable consideration to the interests of NYSEG, its customers, other stakeholders, and the general public in assuring the provision of safe and adequate service, while minimizing potential impacts to the natural or human environment,” the joint stipulation said.
The Modified 34.5 kV Proposal consists of four primary components:
(a) A new 115/34.5-kV substation – the Falls Park substation – in Ghent
(b) Two 115-kV tap lines running from an existing high-voltage transmission line in Stockport to the Falls Park substation in Ghent
(c) Two 34.5-kV feeder lines in Ghent
(d) Clarification of operational procedures and power factor correction
The proposed in-service date for “Components a, b and c” is March 2018, the joint stipulation added, noting that the in-service date for “Component d” is as soon as practical, but not later than next May.
The estimated total cost for the modified 34.5 kV proposal is about $28.2 million, with, for instance, the Falls Park substation costing about $11.1 million; the 115-kV Tap costing about $4.6 million; Feeder #1 (single circuit) costing about $2m; Feeder #2 (single circuit) costing about $2 million; Feeders #1 and #2 (double circuit) costing $920,160.
While NYSEG has not completed its conceptual design of the Falls Park substation, it proposes to build the substation on a nearly four-acre portion of a nearly 28-acre parcel in Ghent that NYSEG intends to acquire in fee (the “substation parcel”). While siting the substation on the “Substation parcel” would increase costs due to longer feeder distance and the need for road widening, it would reduce impacts to agricultural lands and visibility from NYS Route 9H, the joint stipulation added.
Under the modified 34.5 kV proposal, the two 115-kV tap lines run in a parallel in/out configuration and in a generally east/northeast direction for a distance of about 1.1 miles from the existing Niagara Mohawk Power (National Grid USA) 115-kV high voltage transmission Trunk Line 15, located in Stockport, to the Falls Park substation.
The proposed 115-kV tap line structures are expected to be single-circuit galvanized steel monopole structures with “Ortolan 1033 45/7 ACSR” conductors on three galvanized steel arms. The structures are expected to be about 80 feet in height, the joint stipulation added. NYSEG would need to obtain a 150-foot-wide easement corridor for the tap lines.
The joint stipulation also noted that under the modified 34.5 kV proposal, the 34.5-kV feeders would run from the Falls Park substation, one feeder (Feeder 1) to the interconnection of State Highway 9H and Columbia County Airport Road, and the other feeder (Feeder 2) to the interconnection of George Road and State Highway 66.
As noted in the Jan. 4 ruling, under the joint stipulation, should NYSEG successfully and satisfactorily obtain final governmental approval necessary to build the alternative line, it will withdraw the Article VII application that is the subject of this proceeding (Case 12-T-0248). However, in the event NYSEG determines that it cannot satisfactorily obtain such permits, it will request that the PSC resume consideration of the Article VII application.
Chief judge Elizabeth Liebschutz added that in its motion, NYSEG asserts that all the stipulating parties support the motion to hold the proceeding in abeyance until permitting issues are resolved and that granting the motion will save resources by permitting parties to focus solely on the alternative 34.5-kV proposal. No party has filed in opposition to the motion, the judge said.
“Given this support of the motion, the apparent lack of any opposition, and the fact that the alternative proposal reflects a promising compromise between parties of diverse interests, NYSEG’s motion to hold this proceeding in abeyance is granted,” the judge said. “NYSEG should be on notice that, should it seek to resume this proceeding, it will likely be required to supplement, update or supplant its application materials as necessary in light of the passage of time to provide the commission with an adequate record for decision.”