Cricket Valley pitches for power line to serve its 1,000-MW gas project

The New York State Public Service Commission can make the six statutory findings and determinations under the state Public Service Law (PSL) to certify Cricket Valley Energy Center LLC’s (CVE) proposed transmission line project to serve a new gas-fired power plant, said CVE in an Aug. 24 brief filed at the PSC.

“Only one issue is in contention,” the company noted. “Alleging there will be adverse visual impacts, the Cricket Valley Improvement Coalition (‘CVIC’) argues that if new transmission facilities are to be certified within an existing transmission right-of-way (‘ROW’), the addition of the new facilities must be a visual improvement to the existing ROW. There is, however, no such requirement in the law; PSL § 126.1(c) only requires that adverse impacts have been minimized when balanced against other pertinent considerations.

“The evidentiary record shows that any incremental visual impacts will be modest or negligible, and that transmission structure heights have been minimized to the maximum extent practicable, considering the state of available technology for the construction, operation, and maintenance of 345 kV transmission lines. CVIC did not dispute in testimony that CVE has in fact minimized the heights of the proposed transmission towers of the Proposed Project consistent with applicable clearance, safety, and electric-magnetic field (‘EMF’) standards and guidelines. Rather, CVIC proposes alternatives to the Proposed Project that are unreasonable and inferior to the Proposed Project and would be detrimental to the public interest.

“As explained herein, the CVIC alternatives either fail to satisfy state and federal reliability requirements, would cause significant environmental impacts, or would saddle ratepayers with unnecessary and excessive costs. The Department of Public Service Staff (‘DPS Staff’) opposes the CVIC alternatives and supports certifying the Proposed Project. The Department of Environmental Conservation (‘DEC’) and Department of Agriculture and Markets (‘Ag&Mkts’) support certification of the Proposed Project employing the Proposed Certificate Conditions.”

The company added that Consolidated Edison Co. of New York (Con Edison) also opposes the alternatives presented by CVIC and concurs that the Proposed Project is the System Upgrade Facility (SUF) that was required in the 2011 and 2012 interconnection processes, and is expected to be required by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) in its Class Year 2016 interconnection study to interconnect with Con Edison’s 398 transmission line in order to safeguard the reliability of the bulk transmission system which the NYISO plans and administers.

This case involves a 14.6-mile power line

In December 2013, CVE filed an application for the project under Article VII of the PSL with the Commission, seeking a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to:

  • build a new, approximately 14.6-mile, 345-kV transmission line to connect the planned Cricket Valley Energy Center generation facility in the Town of Dover, New York, to Con Edison’s Pleasant Valley Substation in the Town of Pleasant Valley, New York; and
  • reconductor an approximately 3.4-mile segment of the existing 345 kV Line 398 in the Town of Dover between the Cricket Valley switchyard and the New York-Connecticut state line.

The project also includes improvements to the Pleasant Valley Substation, with new protection and communication system upgrades will be required within the existing control buildings at the substation. During the 2011 and 2012 Class Year study processes for the Cricket Valley Energy Center, NYISO determined that the project constitutes an SUF necessary to allow the Energy Center to interconnect to the grid without adversely impacting the reliability, stability, operability or transfer limits of the system.

Con Edison said in its own Aug. 24 brief opposing the four alternatives proposed by CVIC: “Con Edison has an interest in this proceeding because the proposed Transmission Line would be connected to Con Edison’s transmission system and CVIC’s proposed alternatives would negatively impact the reliability of the electric system, destroy an existing Con Edison transmission line and unnecessarily increase costs of operation and maintenance of the new line that would ultimately be borne by Con Edison’s customers.”

Cricket Valley Energy Center on July 31 separately petitioned the New York PSC for approval of the $1.5 billion of financing needed for this combined-cycle, gas-fired, 1,000-MW facility. The application noted: “The CVE Generation Facility will comprise three combined-cycle units, each consisting of a combustion turbine generator, a heat recovery steam generator (‘HRSG’) with supplemental duct firing, and a steam turbine generator. Auxiliary equipment will include a low nitrogen oxide (‘NOx’) natural gas-fired auxiliary boiler needed to keep the HRSGs warm during periods of turbine shutdown and to provide sealing steam during startups, and four diesel-fired blackstart generators, each with a maximum power rating of 3 MW. The four blackstart generators will be used to restart the Generation Facility in the event of a total power loss on the local or regional transmission grid.”

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.