New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his 2012 State of the State Address delivered Jan. 4, announced a plan to build a private sector funded $2bn “Energy Highway” system that will tap into the generation capacity and renewable energy potential in upstate and western New York to bring low-cost power to downstate New York.
“Just as we built the New York State Thruway to unite distant parts of the state, we will develop an ‘Energy Highway’ system that will bring excess fossil-fuel energy from western New York downstate, and also tap into upstate’s potential for renewable energy, like wind power,” Cuomo said in his address. “Just like we built the Northway, we will develop an energy expressway down from Quebec. This will preserve western New York’s current allocation of low cost hydropower and at the same time help address the energy needs of downstate.”
The state will issue requests for proposals to implement a master plan to power its needs for the next half-century, Cuomo said. “We believe private companies will finance and build $2bn in infrastructure to complete the system and build the capacity to supply New Yorkers,” he said.
One transmission project that is underway is the Champlain-Hudson Power Express Project, which is a 385-mile, 320-kV line that originates at the U.S./Canadian border and ends in New York City. The project, planned by Transmission Developers, will cost about $2bn and is scheduled for completion in 2016. The project will bring up to 1,000 MW of wind and hydro to the New York metro area.
Cuomo said the state will also work on repowering “old and dirty” plants so they stop polluting urban neighborhoods and start increasing energy supply.
The governor also said now is the time to focus more attention on exploiting the state’s solar potential. “[W]e will greatly expand the state’s solar programs, but as we do so we will keep an eye firmly on costs,” he said. “We will increase competitive procurement of large, commercial-sized solar projects. And we will expand rebate programs for residential and commercial small-to-medium systems.”
He also noted that New York was the first state in the country to offer a statewide program that allows consumers to retrofit their homes with energy efficient upgrades and pay for the cost on their monthly energy bill. “On-bill financing was scheduled to commence in June 2012, but we have reached an agreement with utilities to begin offering it in January 2012,” he said. “This early start will help produce immediate jobs, and it has the potential to provide benefits to 40,000 homes across the state.”
Among other things, Cuomo also said the state is developing a master plan for accelerating energy-saving improvements in state facilities, noting that the plan will call for substantial investment in cost-effective energy efficiency measures in state buildings over the next four years.
In a separate Jan. 4 statement, New York Independent System Operator President and CEO Stephen Whitley said the governor’s address articulates the need for sustained investment in the state’s energy infrastructure. “Upgrades to the transmission system can make more effective use of statewide generating resources, including the renewable resources being planned and developed throughout upstate New York,” he said.