CHPE developer expects New York PSC ruling on challenge soon

Donald Jessome, president and CEO of Transmission Developers, Inc., which is developing the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) project, an underwater and underground HVDC line that will bring power from Québec to the New York City area, expects New York regulators to issue a ruling on the proposed project within the next month or two (Docket No. 10-T-139).

Speaking at the Marcus Evans Transmission & Distribution Summit in Dallas, Texas, Nov. 13, Jessome said he expects the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to rule on the project’s application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need (CECPN) as early as its Dec. 13 meeting.

“We believe that they will rule in December of this year, [or] January at the outside,” Jessome said. “We’re very confident that it will be a positive ruling but until we get it in our hands, we’re anxiously waiting.”

Following more than a year of closed-door negotiations, a majority of the 29 interested parties that took part in the negotiations signed a joint proposal (JP), which was filed with the PSC Feb. 24.

The JP included details for the construction of the U.S. portion of the line that would extend from the international border to a converter station in Astoria, Queens, and for the construction of a 345-kV AC line that would connect the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) GIS substation to Consolidated Edison’s (NYSE:ED) Rainey substation. Both AC substations are located in Astoria.

Some of the parties to the JP, however, opposed aspects of the proposal and two of the parties chose to file suit challenging the document. 

“The Independent Power Producers of New York and Entergy, which owns [the] Indian Point [nuclear power plant] … decided that they would fight us on the economics of our project,” Jessome said at the conference.

A two-day hearing before PSC administrative law judges took place in July, and final briefs were filed in September. Now, the developer is waiting for the PSC to issue its decision.

Jessome said proactive cooperation with regulators has helped move the project forward.

“Give them the information they need … as quickly as possible so that you’re not the one causing the problem for them not giving you the permit,” he said. “If there’s an issue, get out in front of it, give them the information, and they’re extremely appreciative of the fact that you are responsive to them.”

Careful route selection also played an important part in the project. “We worked very hard to ensure that the proposed route stayed within the state of New York,” Jessome said, apparently hinting at the added complexity that accompanies cross-jurisdictional projects.

Developers are currently in negotiations with an engineering, procurement, and construction contractor. If the PSC approves the project, cable and equipment procurement will start in 2013, Jessome said.

He also said that 2015 and 2016 “will be big cable-laying years,” and the project is expected to be in service in 2017.

The 333-mile CHPE will deliver 1,000 MW of low cost electricity from Québec to New York City when the $1.9bn project is complete.