New York PSC okays transmission-related Indian Point backup projects

The New York State Public Service Commission on Oct. 17 made the first project-specific decisions in its case opened last November where it is reviewing alternatives in case the Indian Point nuclear plant has to shut.

The commission approved a suite of projects to foster grid reliability in the event that the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is unable to generate electricity due to the expiration of its Nuclear Regulatory Commission-issued operating licenses in 2015. Indian Point is controlled by Entergy (NYSE: ETR), which has told the commission it has every confidence the plant will be able to keep running.

“The potential retirement of IPEC raises significant reliability issues,” said PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman in an Oct. 17 statement. “With our decision today, we considered and adopted two elements which have been identified as part of the portfolio of actions that needed to be implemented to mitigate these pressing reliability concerns. Each of these elements is a clear winner for customers, and will provide ratepayer benefits even if IPEC were to operate beyond December 2015.”

IPEC has two nuclear power reactors located in Westchester County, approximately 30 miles north of Manhattan, which generate a total of about 2,040 MW. In this nearly year-long proceeding, the commission directed Consolidated Edison to work with the New York Power Authority to develop and file a contingency plan to address reliability needs that would arise in the event the Indian Point units shut down.

Based on the analysis completed to date, the commission is moving forward with new transmission facilities and energy efficiency/demand response measures that have been shown to provide net benefits to customers even in the event IPEC continues operating beyond its current license term.

Several generation and transmission project proposals submitted in response to a Request for Proposals issued by NYPA and Con Edison would meet the remainder of the reliability need created by IPEC’s potential closing at the end of 2015, and the leading bids on the generation side of the equation are still being evaluated. Those bids are mostly for new or expanded gas-fired power plants.

The specific solutions accepted by the commission are: three transmission projects capable of reducing capacity needs by upwards of 600 MW and extension of existing programs and creation of new programs designed to reduce downstate electricity use by 180 MW through energy efficiency and demand response. This suite of projects accepted represents the least-cost and least-risky portfolio for the IPEC reliability contingency plan, the commission noted.

In addition to identifying transmission projects that will now move forward, the commission endorsed the method by which the costs and benefits associated with implementing the contingency plan will be allocated among load-serving entities and filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Several transmission projects approved

The transmission projects, which could be operational by mid-2016, are:

  • Create a second 27-mile 345 kV transmission line from Central Hudson’s Rock Tavern substation in Orange County to Con Edison’s Ramapo substation in Rockland County which would increase power transfer from upstate generators to downstate load;
  • Improve the efficiency of the Marcy South power lines and re-conductor a 22-mile section of the existing New York State Electric and Gas 345 kV transmission line between Fraser substation in Delaware County to Coopers Corners substation in Sullivan County, which will increase transfer capability into Southeastern New York, including New York City; and
  • Reconfigure transmission substations in Linden, N.J., and Goethals, Staten Island, to mitigate system contingencies; provide enhanced cooling of underground transmission circuits running between Con Edison’s Goethals, Gowanus (Brooklyn) and Farragut (Brooklyn) transmission substations to increase power transfer capability to un-bottle existing generation resources on Staten Island.

Two of the transmission projects — the Rock Tavern/Ramapo line and the Marcy/Fraser project — would increase the import capability into southeastern New York by reducing the constraint on the upstate New York/Southeast New York interface. Underutilized upstate capacity would be able to provide increased levels of energy to the downstate area. This increased capability would provide a reliability benefit.

The Staten Island project would make generation on Staten Island, which is currently bottled-up, more generally available to the grid.

The energy efficiency and demand response programs will focus on large customers located within Con Edison’s service territory. Targeted customers include customers with high-peak demand; project developers with potential large-scale projects; prior or existing energy efficiency participants willing to expand the scope and depth of projects; and, customers capable of switching electric summer air conditioning load to steam or gas. The initiative also calls for new investments in combined heat and power projects.

To ensure the success of the energy efficiency and demand response, Con Edison will work with the New York Power Authority and with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to implement the plan for energy efficiency, demand reduction, and combined heat and power. Con Edison customers will be responsible for the program costs.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.