Update shows New York Energy Highway efforts on, or ahead of schedule

The New York Energy Highway Task Force said on April 30 that all of the actions called for in the New York Energy Highway Blueprint to modernize the state’s energy infrastructure are moving forward on or ahead of schedule.

“We believe constructing electric transmission and generation, developing renewable energy sources and upgrading electric and natural gas infrastructure can effectively advance the governor’s far-reaching initiative to modernize New York’s statewide energy system,” the task force said in a statement.

The task force created the Blueprint after reviewing 130 responses from 85 entities in response to its request for information issued in April 2012. The Energy Highway initiative, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced in the 2012 State of the State Address, is a centerpiece of his Power NY agenda, the task force added.

New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and CEO Gil Quiniones and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens are co-chairs of the task force.

The update announcement was made as part of a panel discussion on the recent progress of several key recommended actions in the Blueprint during the Advanced Energy Conference being held April 30 and May 1 in New York.

According to the update, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) has issued orders to examine plans and alternatives to give downstate customers access to upstate power generation by easing transmission congestion; to plan for possible major power plant retirements; and to study the expansion of natural gas delivery to residences and businesses in the state.

Also, the NYPA Board of Trustees has approved a life extension and modernization program for NYPA’s decades-old transmission system in western, central and northern New York.

In addition, starting with the pending rate cases involving National Grid plc subsidiary National Grid USA and Consolidated Edison’s (NYSE:ED) Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison), the PSC will address efforts by investor-owned utilities to upgrade their systems.

Statewide, the Blueprint recommended the accelerated investment of $800m through 2017 to improve electric utility infrastructure, with a focus on efforts such as reducing repair backlogs and increasing responsible tree trimming near transmission and distribution lines.

The PSC began a proceeding in November 2012 to solicit formal proposals from current transmission owners and other potential developers of new transmission lines in the congested pathways linking upstate and central New York with the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City. On April 18, the PSC issued an order establishing a competitive Article VII process for the consideration of alternatives to provide the 1,000 MW of desired upgrades, calling for initial applications to be filed in October.

Those actions, the update added, are in response to the Blueprint’s call for investing $1bn to develop 1,000 MW of new alternating current (AC) transmission capacity, with preference for projects built along existing rights-of-way or involving the upgrade of existing lines to mitigate environmental impacts.

The update also noted that NYPA issued a request for proposals (RFP) on April 3 for a target of 1,350 MW of incremental generation and transmission capacity, with bids due May 20.

In an order issued this month, the PSC allowed the utilities to undertake preliminary development activities for their proposed transmission solutions, subject to further review and action when the PSC reviews the RFP responses; required Con Edison to file a more refined energy efficiency and demand reduction plan within 45 days of the order; and directed state Department of Public Service (DPS) staff to issue a straw proposal to address cost recovery and cost allocation issues for further comments.

The update also noted that NYPA is in the process of implementing upgrades to a portion of an existing transmission line from Massena to Plattsburgh in New York and is evaluating improvements to several of its other transmission facilities in northern New York. The Blueprint proposed actions to ease transmission congestion in the region, providing consumers access to current and proposed wind energy projects and other renewable sources.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is working with other state agencies to address jurisdictional issues and research priorities, as well as other matters concerning the potential development of wind resources off of the state’s Atlantic coast, the update added.

On another front, the PSC issued an order in January requiring National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) to conduct an analysis of repowering of the Dunkirk and Cayuga facilities. The utilities have filed the costs of their transmission upgrades and solicited bids, received March 19, from the plant owners for the level of out-of-market support required to finance the repowering of their facility. The utilities are expected to file their analysis and recommendations by May 2.

NYSEG is a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, which is a subsidiary of Iberdrola S.A.

Among other things, the update also noted that the task force recommended in the Blueprint that the smart grid technology and market development program be leveraged to apply advanced technologies to further improve power flows throughout the system and contribute to a more environmentally sustainable power sector.

Since the Blueprint was issued, NYSERDA awarded almost $2.6m for five projects to support research and engineering studies, product development and demonstration projects that improve the reliability, efficiency, quality and overall performance of the electric power delivery system in the state. Overall in 2012, NYSERDA awarded about $9m for 17 projects. Also, FERC approved the state’s proposal in a settlement involving Constellation Energy for $20m to be allocated to further smart grid demonstration.

NYSERDA worked with DPS and others to develop a new round of solicitation(s) in support of smart grid research and development, focusing on projects that reinforce the reliability and performance of the bulk transmission system consistent with the Constellation Energy settlement with FERC.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 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 corinar@pennwell.com.