New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) is seeking New York state regulators’ approval to build and operate about 11.1 miles of 115-kV lines and related facilities in Columbia County, N.Y.
The company filed with the state Public Service Commission (PSC) in May its application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to build the Columbia County Transmission Project in the towns of Chatham, Ghent and Stockport.
The project includes building the proposed 8.6-mile, 115-kV circuit #726; building 2.5 miles of 115-kV transmission lines needed to loop National Grid USA’s 115-kV trunk #15 into a new switching station in Ghent; building the Ghent switching station; and modifying the Klinekill substation. National Grid is a subsidiary of National Grid plc.
Circuit #726 will parallel the east side of the existing Craryville-Klinekill circuit #984 for its entire distance in Chatham, 0.5 miles, and for about 2.6 miles in Ghent. The remaining 5.5 miles of circuit #726 will be built on new right-of-way (ROW) in Ghent.
NYSEG also said that two 115-kV lines required to loop the trunk #15 transmission line into the new Ghent switching station would begin at a point along trunk #15 about 2,000 feet north of Stockport Road. The lines will extend in parallel on new ROW from this point east and northeast about 6,450 feet to the Ghent switching station.
Circuit #726 and the lines running from and to trunk #15 will be built mainly on single pole wood structures, and circuit #726 will share 3.1 miles of the ROW of the existing Craryville-Klinekill 115-kV circuit #984. The existing ROW will need to be expanded by 50 feet to accommodate circuit #726 where it will be built parallel to circuit #984. The remaining 5.5 miles of circuit #726 will be built on new ROW that will generally be 100 feet wide, the company added.
The project will be designed, built and operated in a way that avoids or minimizes impacts to environmental resources within the county. NYSEG also said the project will require the acquisition of active agricultural land for the new Ghent switching station and new and expanded transmission line ROW in rural areas for the proposed circuit #726. “Because of the number of wetlands in the area, it is not reasonably possible to avoid all wetlands, but impacts to wetlands will be minimized,” NYSEG said.
The normal source capability of the Chatham area of NYSEG’s Mechanicville Division electric system is limited by three sources into the system, NYSEG said, adding that the project will bring a new source into that area and eliminate the need to drop load upon loss of the Churchtown-Craryville 115-kV line, the company said.
In response to potentially affected municipalities, NYSEG studied the possibility of solving the need for system reinforcement by additions to its 34.5-kV system in the area. While such a solution could resolve current system needs, it would not accommodate future load growth and would require construction of a 115-kV facility as load in the area increased, NYSEG said.
Furthermore, the company said that building the project will allow it to avoid adding new transmission lines in the area for the foreseeable future.
Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) said in a June 17 letter to the PSC that the project “threatens serious disruption to communities in my district.”
He called on the PSC to ensure a thorough, fair and balanced review of the project, one that places agricultural, environmental and social concerns on at least an equal footing with cost concerns or administrative convenience.
Gibson said he is concerned about the loss of active agricultural lands in one of New York’s more rural areas, the project’s potential impacts on historic and archaeological resources and its visual impacts on parks, recreation areas, open space and scenic byways.
“Procedurally, I am deeply concerned with NYSEG’s apparent disregard of the input of and concerns expressed by local elected officials in my district,” he said, adding that their views need to be fully taken into account by the PSC.
Gibson also said he is not insensitive to the state’s energy needs.
“As I understand it, Article VII of the New York Public Service Law authorizes the PSC to scrutinize closely the need for the NYSEG project, as well as the reasonable alternatives to it, including energy efficiency, demand side management and other load-side measures which, either individually or collectively, could eliminate the need for new overhead transmission lines altogether,” he said.
In a June 22 letter to NYSEG, the PSC said the May filing contained deficiencies, including that the documents do not comply with requirements that the applicant submit aerial photographs, or with requirements that the applicant state what efforts have been made to assure that any ROW avoids, or minimizes its visibility from, scenic, recreational and historic areas, for instance.
“The regulatory process provides the PSC with the opportunity to make such findings, and receiving a notice of deficiencies in a complex Article VII application is not unexpected or unusual,” a NYSEG spokesperson told TransmissionHub June 28. “We are currently reviewing the information and we intend to provide a supplement to our filing that addresses the deficiencies. In addition, we will respond to the requests for additional information.”
NYSEG is a regulated utility of Iberdrola SA.