New York PSC acts on Energy Highway recommendations

Following recommendations included in the New York Energy Highway Task Force’s blueprint, state regulators began a proceeding to review proposals from utilities and private developers for new transmission lines and upgrades to existing facilities that will address congestion on the transmission system between Utica, N.Y., and New York City.

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.

According to the state Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Nov. 30 order (Case 12-T-0502), various studies have identified the alternating current (AC) electric transmission corridor that traverses the Mohawk Valley Region, the Capital Region and the Lower Hudson Valley as a source of persistent congestion.

The corridor includes facilities connected to Marcy, New Scotland, Leeds and Pleasant Valley substations, and two major electrical interfaces that are often referred to as “Central East,” and “UPNY/SENY.”

The PSC is soliciting written public statements of intent from developers and transmission owners proposing projects that will increase transfer capacity through the congested transmission corridor, including the Central East and UPNY/SENY interfaces and meet the objectives of the Energy Highway blueprint.

All statements of intent, including the projected in-service date and project development schedule, must be filed with the PSC by Jan. 25, 2013.

The state Department of Public Service will hold a technical conference on Dec. 17.

The PSC also began a proceeding on Nov. 27 to develop a contingency plan in the event of the closing of Indian Point, two nuclear power plants in Westchester County, N.Y., about 30 miles north of Manhattan.

The PSC directed Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED) to work with the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to develop and file a contingency plan to address the need that would arise in the event the Indian Point units shut down.

According to the PSC’s Nov. 30 order (Case 12-E-0503), the Indian Point Contingency Plan is due by Feb. 1, 2013, with comments due by Feb. 22, 2013.

The plan should take into account the status of proposed power plants and AC and DC transmission projects, as well as the potential impacts of energy efficiency, distributed renewable generation, demand response and combined heat and power projects, the PSC said.

There is significant uncertainty as to whether Entergy (NYSE:ETR) will be able to obtain the needed permits and approvals to keep Indian Point operational over the long-term, the PSC said, adding that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding its final decisions on the license applications in abeyance while it evaluates nuclear waste storage issues.

“A loss of the Indian Point units, which, when operating, supply over 2,000 MW, could result in significantly reduced reliability at the time of retirement and for several years thereafter until replaced,” the PSC said.

Furthermore, the PSC will review regulations and policies that may unduly constrain the availability of natural gas and/or other factors influencing customer conversions.

“Given the very substantial price difference between natural gas and oil, many residential, commercial and industrial customers could potentially benefit from conversion from oil to natural gas,” the PSC said.

In its Nov. 30 order (Case 12-G-0297), the PSC noted that the state is well located geographically to take advantage of existing and newly developed natural gas supplies located outside the state but which, when competitively priced, are available to supply customers within the state.

The PSC said expanding the availability of natural gas also is likely to have important implications for economic development and the job market within New York.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3067 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.