Champlain Hudson line source of vexation for N.Y. state senator

State Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane) called on the New York Public Service Commission to undertake the “most thorough review in its history” for the $2bn proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line.

 “Allowing this project to move forward is rife with risk for upstate communities,” Maziarz said in a Dec. 7 letter to Commissioner Garry Brown.

As some specifics about the project are unknowable because of the confidential nature of settlement negotiations currently underway, Maziarz said the PSC should conduct a rigorous review.

One of Maziarz’s concerns involved the nature of the HVDC line, which would bypass upstate New York in its transmission of renewable energy to New York City. He argued the line would harm jobs in upstate New York, while supporting the Canadian economy.

“There are currently just as many megawatts of power (if not more) stranded upstate with no ability to get south and east due to our decrepit transmission system,” Maziarz wrote. “These generators support thousands of upstate jobs and in many communities they are the lynchpin of the County tax base. Allowing this CHPEI line to proceed dooms those jobs and communities in the name of stimulating economic development in another country.”

“Any contemplation of such a move seems unfathomable to me personally, but at the very least it requires the Commission to undertake the most thorough review in its history in order to determine if this is truly in the public’s interest,” he said.

If an adequately thorough review is not carried out, Mariarz said he would strongly consider launching his own inquiry into the matter.

Champlain Hudson is a 320-kV, 380-mile HVDC line that would connect Quebec to New York City and either be buried along railway routes or placed in waterways, including Lake Champlain, the Champlain Canal and the Hudson River.

Champlain Hudson Power and representatives of 29 state and local agencies, municipalities and environmental groups are in settlement negotiations, an alternative to a formal proceeding before the commission. CEO Don Jessome told TransmissionHub on Dec. 14 that he was “very optimistic” that a joint proposal would be filed by Jan. 10, the deadline for the next status report.

In his Dec. 7 letter, Mariarz highlighted five local, regional and statewide concerns, including disruption of local communities, the potential for the project to create problems with the state’s waterways, the lack of energy efficiency benefits, the creation of more stranded capacity, and lack of state economic development.

PSC administrative law judges (ALJs) Kevin Casutto and Michelle Phillips responded in a Dec. 15 letter saying they were not privy to the confidential settlement negotiations, but could address certain of Maziarz’s procedural concerns. A joint proposal will be part of the public record, and will be the subject of a notice seeking public comment, they wrote. In addition, evidentiary hearings will be held for any joint proposal filed.

“It is also likely that we will provide an opportunity for the submission of post-hearing briefs or statements, as necessary,” they wrote.

The ALJs also noted they will hold public hearings for any proposed routes.

The joint proposal will describe how the interested parties have agreed to settle the case. A spokesperson for the PSC told TransmissionHub Dec. 14 that the document will be comprehensive about the parties’ recommendations and the discussions that led to those recommendations.

About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.