Agreement on Champlain Hudson Power Express expected by Jan. 10

The president of the company planning the U.S. portion of the Champlain Hudson Power Express expects interested parties to reach an agreement on the mostly underwater, HVDC line before mid-January.

Instead of a formal proceeding before the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), the developer and representatives of 29 state and local agencies, municipalities, and environmental groups have been talking since the fall of 2010 in an effort to reach agreement over the proposed line.  The developer, a subsidiary of Transmission Developers, Inc. (TDI), opted for “settlement negotiations” with interested parties, which is an alternative offered by the PSC.

“There were a lot of varied interests who were part of our case and we really wanted all the parties to have the ability to speak their mind,” TDI President and CEO Don Jessome told TransmissionHub on Dec. 14. Different from the formal “litigation process,” negotiations “put the issues on the table, and allow the parties to work through those issues in the most collaborative manner,” he said.

Developers had originally hoped that the parties would be able to send a negotiated agreement to the PSC by the summer of 2011. While discussions took longer than anticipated, the parties continually reported making progress and requested several extensions from the commission.

The latest extension directed the parties to make their next filing with the PSC by Jan. 10.

Now, Jessome is “very optimistic that, given the spirit of cooperation throughout the process, that the last issue” will be resolved and a joint proposal filed with the PSC by that deadline.

The joint proposal is a comprehensive document that will describe how the interested parties have agreed to settle the case. A spokesperson for the PSC told TransmissionHub the document will be comprehensive about the parties’ recommendations as well as the discussions that led to those recommendations. The PSC will review the document and may either accept, reject, or modify the final recommendations.

In addition to reaching a negotiated agreement, developers must still obtain two federal permits, which Jessome anticipates receiving in early 2013. The contractor would start laying cable in 2014.

The Champlain Hudson Power Link is a high-voltage, direct-current line that would connect Quebec to New York City and would either be buried or under the waters of Lake Champlain, the Champlain Canal and the Hudson River for its entire distance. The 320-kV line will be able to transmit 1,000 MW over the 380-mile stretch. The 333 miles of line that would be in the United States would cost approximately $2bn. Approximately 50 miles of the line in Canada will be built and owned by TransÉnergie, the transmission arm of Hydro-Québec.

If all goes according to schedule, the line is expected to be energized in mid-2016.