NY approves new transmission lines to bring clean energy downstate

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last week announced that the New York State Public Service Commission approved the New York Energy Solution Project – an estimated $530 million, 54.5-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line that will run from Rensselaer County to Dutchess County. The line is needed to speed the flow of clean energy to high-demand markets and consumers downstate, said the governor.

The Public Service Commission also granted NextEra Energy Transmission New York, Inc. the necessary approvals to exercise municipal agreements to construct the Empire State Line – a $180 million, 20-mile, 345-kilovolt electric transmission line, located in Niagara and Erie counties that will help relieve congestion and maximize the flow of renewable resources in Western New York.

These approvals are the final step needed to commence construction on the 250 miles of the green energy transmission superhighway this year, as announced in Governor Cuomo’s 2021 State of the State address.

These projects are also expected to stimulate the local and regional economy by increasing employment and earnings in the construction industry. 

“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,” Governor 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 notable 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; and
  • 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 today 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 projects will be complemented by the Northern New York Priority Transmission Project, a 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.

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.

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.

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. The project will be operational by the end of 2023.

Public Service Commission Chair John B. Rhodes said, “Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading work to create a clean, green economy requires smart new transmission investments to connect renewable power to customers. The project we approved delivers that power and provides significant positive job and climate benefits for all New Yorkers.”

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