New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway Task Force is expected to issue a request for information (RFI) on April 11, in search of ideas for potential energy projects from private developers, investor-owned utilities, the financial community and others.
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.
A conference for potential responders and other interested parties will be held on April 19, according to a statement from Cuomo’s office. The governor created the task force, which is co-chaired by New York Power Authority President and CEO Gil Quiniones and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens, to oversee implementation of the energy highway initiative and enlist the private sector in an effort to upgrade and modernize New York’s electric system, according to the statement.
The task force will issue an energy highway action plan this summer with recommendations for moving forward.
The statement also noted that the energy highway’s goal is to ensure that a cost-efficient, reliable and environmentally sustainable power supply is available to fuel New York’s economic growth and to meet its residents’ needs. A key element calls for proposals to modernize existing transmission lines to improve the efficiency of grid operation and build new transmission lines in existing right-of-ways to carry excess power from upstate sources to the downstate area, where electricity demand is greatest, according to the statement.
“The Energy Highway project has the potential to create thousands of jobs and stimulate billions of dollars in private investment in order to rebuild New York’s energy infrastructure,” Cuomo said in the statement.
According to a separate statement from the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), NYISO President and CEO Stephen Whitley said during Cuomo’s recently held New York Energy Highway Summit that addressing statewide transmission constraints will enhance New York’s competitive wholesale electricity market.
While New York has a statewide surplus of electric energy, it is limited in its ability to transmit that electricity from areas of surplus to areas of need, he said, adding that the congested transmission system has led to, among other things, price disparity for wholesale electricity across New York.
“Transmission investments made today will provide value for the next 50 years and should be viewed from that long-range perspective,” Whitley said. “These projects will enhance both the reliability of the grid and our competitive markets as more power can flow from western New York through the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys to New York City and Long Island.”
According to the governor’s statement, the energy highway is envisioned as at least a $2bn private sector initiative to encourage job creation and capital investment in the state’s electric system by private companies in partnership with the state.
One transmission project that is underway is the Champlain-Hudson Power Express Project, which 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.
New York state regulators said April 5 that they are seeking public comment on a Feb. 24 joint proposal filed by Champlain Hudson Power Express and CHPE Properties for approval to build the project. Hearings are scheduled for April 10, 12 and 24.
The state Public Service Commission also noted that the facility’s transmission lines will be made up of two solid dielectric cables, each about six inches in diameter. The facility will also include a converter station and a 3-mile-long high voltage alternating current cable circuit from the Astoria Annex to the Rainey substation in Astoria, N.Y.
The PSC also said that the joint proposal provides for the establishment of a trust to fund a study and mitigation of any possible impacts that the facility’s underwater cables may have on the habitat in the Hudson, Harlem and East Rivers, Lake Champlain and their tributaries.