New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced his plans to rebuild 78 miles of power transmission infrastructure in the North Country.
The rebuilding can further strengthen the reliability of the New York State electric power grid and enabling more upstate renewable energy to connect to the power system throughout the state.
The newly rebuilt transmission line, called the Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability project, will help the state meet the Governor's Clean Energy Standard that mandates that 50 percent of New York's consumed electricity comes from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. Transmission projects like these can play a critical role in channeling power produced upstate – where increasing amounts of renewable energy is coming on line – to areas where it is needed downstate.
"This critical upgrade will help strengthen our clean energy economy in every corner of the state, and help New York reach its nation-leading clean energy standard," Governor Cuomo said. "By investing in the long-term sustainability of our state's energy infrastructure today, we are helping to ensure New Yorkers will have access to a cleaner, greener future for years to come."
The Smart Path project is expected to create approximately 2,000 full-time, well-paying jobs during development and construction. All construction is expected to take place on existing rights-of-way in order to minimize the impact on the environment and adjacent property and landowners. Additionally, the project will pursue an expedited permitting approach available to upgrades that do not expand rights-of-way. Construction is estimated to take four years and is slated to begin in 2019.
The Smart Path project, when completed, will run north to south through St. Lawrence and Lewis counties carrying economical, clean and renewable energy, including low-cost hydropower from NYPA's St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project and power from newly constructed wind farms, solar power projects and other large-scale renewable energy sources, from upstate to high-energy demand areas downstate.
As envisioned in Governor Cuomo's NY Energy Highway Blueprint, released in 2012, the investment in transmission will enable more effective and efficient clean energy power flows across the state's electric grid and foster more robust competitive wholesale energy markets. With the state's focus on clean and renewable energy, the 2012 Energy Highway has now evolved into the Clean Energy Highway, which along with the Governor's Clean Energy Standard, is ensuring clean, cost effective energy is available to all New Yorkers. The Governor's Clean Energy Highway and Reforming the Energy Vision initiatives, as well as the 2015 New York State Energy Plan, provide a coordinated approach and business model for the State's rapidly evolving 21st-century electricity system while also applying a steadfast commitment to clean energy.
Richard L. Kauffman, New York State Chairman of Energy and Finance, said, "This Smart Path project supports the pioneering approach under Governor Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision to spur investments into a more innovative transmission system and infrastructure modernization to modernize the grid. These investments also help us add more distributed resources like wind and solar to the grid as we build a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system, supporting good jobs and economic development across New York."
Early progress on the Clean Energy Highway has already been realized with the completion of several transmission projects, including the Marcy South Series Compensation Project and the Ramapo to Rock Tavern project. There are also two additional transmission solutions under evaluation for Western New York and the Central East and Upstate-Southeast regions. Additionally, the PSC has an open process to evaluate the need for further transmission development across the state, and many stakeholders, including NYPA, have advocated for continued strengthening of transmission assets in Northern New York. These projects will help ensure that energy from renewable rich areas of Western New York and Northern New York will have a more cost effective path to consumers, while also enabling the continued benefit of associated economic development programs.
"These new modernized transmission lines will ensure the continued reliability of New York's power system and help make Governor Cuomo's Clean Energy Highway vision a reality, by linking more new renewable energy sources to the grid," said Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority. "This project is yet another example of NYPA's commitment to building reliable, clean energy infrastructure in New York State. Millions of New Yorkers rely on the energy transmission system every day, and we, at NYPA, are proud to continue to build, update and operate world-class power assets for the people of New York now and into the future, along with our like-minded clean energy partners."
The $440 million rebuild of the Moses-Adirondack transmission artery includes replacing 78 of the 86-miles on each of two transmission lines that were originally constructed by the federal government in 1942 and acquired by the Power Authority in 1953. The transmission lines run from Massena in St. Lawrence County, home to NYPA's St. Lawrence-FDR hydroelectric plant, to a substation in the Town of Croghan in Lewis County. The transmission lines are still supported in many areas by outmoded wooden poles that will be replaced with new steel monopole structures.
The new structures and conductors will be capable of transmitting up to 345 kilovolts, but will be operated in the near-term at the current level of 230kV. This ability to increase the voltage when the demand requires is a cost-effective way to unlock more renewable power, especially in-state renewable generation and imports of hydro from Canada, to anywhere along the transmission line, as New York continues to advance its clean energy goals. NYPA worked with transmission owners in New York, including Con Ed, NYSEG, the Long Island Power Authority, National Grid and Central Hudson Gas & Electric, to obtain concurrence on the Smart Path design to support long-term expansion of renewable energy development.
"A robust transmission network is essential for New York's efforts to scale up and deploy renewable energy," said Rory Christian, Director, New York Clean Energy at Environmental Defense Fund. "This will increase opportunities to develop clean energy sources throughout the state, and connect the downstate region to existing affordable electricity generated in upstate New York."
"Transmission projects will play a critical role in ensuring that New York's abundant wind and solar resources can deliver electricity to customers throughout the state," said Jackson Morris, Director of Eastern Energy at Natural Resources Defense Council. "Connecting New Yorkers to electricity generated from pollution-free resources means cleaner air and healthier communities for all of us. This new project will be critical to helping to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil-fueled power plants, playing a key role in achieving Governor Cuomo's nation leading effort to deliver 50 percent of New York's electricity from renewables by 2030."
"New York has made great strides in fighting climate change by growing its renewable energy sector and the Green Collar jobs that are vitally important to economic growth in our state," said Richard Berkley, executive director of the Public Utility Law Project of New York. "By replacing old and outdated parts of our electric grid through forward-looking projects like NYPA's Smart Path project and the other prudent investments of the Governor's Clean Energy Highway initiative, our state will continue its vital progress against climate change. This upgrade will also improve the accessibility and affordability of renewable energy for rural, low-income and fixed-income consumers. We applaud the Smart Path and the Clean Energy Highway, and the benefits they will bring to New York's energy consumers."
"This is the way transmission should be built," said Gavin Donohue, President and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc. "New York is ripe for renewables development, and transmission expansion that benefits in-state generators by moving more electricity across the state attracts investments that enrich all New Yorkers. We look forward to the completion of the Western NY and AC transmission proceedings, which are transparently examining how to cost-effectively leverage New York's existing and future generation assets to meet Governor Cuomo's clean energy goals. Building out the state's transmission system creates jobs, increases tax revenues, and allows for a more robust and competitive electricity marketplace – which keeps costs low for consumers."
"On behalf of the members of IBEW Local 2032, their families and residents of the North Country, I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to work with NYPA and the IBEW to bring good paying union jobs to the North Country region," International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2032 Business Manager Bill Brown, Jr. said. "This marks the union's 55th year of working with NYPA and we look forward to the benefits of this new Smart Path Moses-Adirondack line."
"Investing in new transmission to allow more renewable energy to flow where it's needed is both forward thinking and smart for New York," said Anne Reynolds, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. "The fact that this project is moving forward is welcome news for the renewable energy industry."