Rockland (N.Y.) Business Association president objects to Champlain Hudson Power Express

The president of the Rockland Business Association in Rockland County, N.Y., is calling for the state to develop its own energy resources rather than “turn to another country,” Association president Al Samuels said, referencing the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE).

That project is a 330-mile, 320-kV HVDC transmission line that originates in Quebec and ends in New York City. The project, planned by Transmission Developers Inc. (TDI) will cost about $2bn and is scheduled for completion in 2016. The project will bring up to 1,000 MW of wind and hydro energy to the New York metropolitan area.

Samuels told TransmissionHub April 18 that he presented his objections and concerns at a New York Public Service Commission hearing on April 12.

He noted that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York Energy Highway Task Force on April 11 issued a request for information (RFI), seeking information on various aspects of potential electric generation and transmission projects.

“My first objection is why are we being asked to consider a Canadian project before we even have the information that the administration is requesting relative to what’s the best way to create and implement this energy highway that the governor wants,” Samuels said. “It seems to me that we should be looking to exploit all…of New York State’s domestic development and job creation before we turn to another country.”

He also noted that the state should take advantage of the new Article 10 legislation and work with companies to encourage them to construct new generating facilities in the state.

According to the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, the Power NY Act of 2011 established a process for the siting of electric generating facilities and repowering projects. As part of the process, a multi-agency siting board is charged with streamlining the permitting process for power plants greater than 25 MW. The board also said that the Power NY Act encourages investments in clean power plants and affords communities more opportunities to participate in the siting process.

Samuels said that the “Canadian project is a direct current line,” adding that upstate New York generators and transmission facilities cannot connect into it as they can with standard alternating current. “As a result, the project does nothing to strengthen New York’s existing grid [and] it doesn’t help meet the goal of moving low-cost upstate renewable and conventional power to downstate, which was outlined by the governor in his State of the State Address,” he said. “So, why bypass all of this and go to Canada? We need to exploit everything that we have here.”

He also claimed that the project provides no new jobs for people in the area or new tax revenues. Among other things, he said decisions governing the electricity that the proposed line would transmit would fall under Canadian authority, adding, “I don’t feel that the best interest of New York, of its businesses [and] of its ratepayers will come from Canada.”

According to its website, the association is a not for profit membership organization that serves the Rockland County business community, as well as firms in the Hudson Valley and New Jersey wishing to do business in Rockland.

Company response

TDI President and CEO Donald Jessome told TransmissionHub April 18 that TDI is based in Albany, N.Y., and the company also has an office in New York City.

“The project will have Canadian hydro and wind supply along with other potential suppliers who will participate in the TDI open season process,” he said. “This project started development in 2008 and has followed all of the state and federal review processes. The governor’s RFI in the Energy Highway initiative is another opportunity that the CHPE project will pursue to further enhance the project’s benefits to the state of New York.”

Jessome also said that TDI completely agrees that new facilities should proceed through Article 10, along with new offshore wind and other transmission projects. “New York needs many new and innovative solutions for [its] energy needs,” he said.

The CHPE project enhances the grid by increasing the diversity of supply into the market, Jessome said. Additionally, generators in New York can access the CHPE line by wheeling their power through Quebec to the top of the CHPE line.

According to TDI, a study showed that the transmission project will create more than 300 direct construction jobs, primarily union positions, during the 3.5-year construction period planned for 2013 to 2016, with a peak of more than 600 jobs in 2015. Furthermore, the project will create an average of more than 1,200 indirect and induced jobs in the state over that time period from suppliers and various businesses in local communities along the route. The company also said that over the course of the construction phase, the spending generated by the project will increase New York’s gross domestic product by almost $150m per year. Among other things, the company said that it is estimated that the increased supply of low-cost electricity delivered through the line will decrease electricity costs by more than $650m a year to consumers in New York.

Right now, it is projected that the company will pay almost $800,000 a year in property taxes to Rockland County. Furthermore, various state agencies have signed a joint proposal agreeing that the project should move forward.

Jessome said the project will be under the control and operation of the New York Independent System Operator, which is regulated by FERC. “This project will be managed under U.S. reliability rules and procedures,” he said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.