NYISO: Upgraded transmission capability vital to meeting public policy goals

A cleaner, greener, and integrated grid to serve New York requires a modernized, upgraded, and expanded transmission system to enable the new resource mix of a changing energy landscape in the state, according to the “Power Trends 2017” report that was recently released by the New York ISO (NYISO).

Upgraded transmission capability is vital to meeting public policy goals and efficiently moving power to address regional power needs, the report said.

The report noted that more than 80% of New York’s high-voltage transmission lines went into service before 1980, and that of the state’s more than 11,000 circuit-miles of transmission lines, nearly 4,700 circuit-miles will require replacement within the next 30 years, at an estimated cost of $25bn.

In New York, the report said, the tale of two grids includes distinct differences between upstate and downstate regions in terms of power resources and consumer demand:

  • All of New York’s existing major hydropower resources and wind power projects, as well as nearly all currently proposed land-based wind power projects, are located in northern and western regions of the state – hundreds of miles from the high demand metropolitan regions of southeastern New York. Transmission enhancements would relieve constraints on the system, making more effective use of current and future renewable resources
  • While the downstate region of New York – Long Island, New York City, and the Hudson Valley – Zones F-K – annually uses 66% of the state’s electric energy, that region’s power plants generate only 53% of the state’s electricity. Enabling upstate resources to better serve downstate consumers provides benefits such as grid resiliency, resource diversity, and enhanced market competition

The power demands of the downstate metropolitan New York region have attracted the development of various transmission projects, primarily interregional high-voltage direct current (HVDC) projects connecting the southeastern New York region to neighboring electricity markets, the report said, adding that more than 2,700 MW of transmission capability have been added to serve New York’s electric system since 2000.

The report noted that those investments include the:

  • Cross-Sound Cable, which links Long Island with ISO New England (ISO-NE)
  • Neptune Regional Transmission System, connecting Long Island with PJM Interconnection
  • Hudson Transmission Partners project
  • Linden Variable Frequency Transformer project, which also links New York with PJM

The report also noted that three intrastate projects, collectively named the Transmission Owner Transmission Solutions (TOTS), were placed in service in June 2016, and are estimated to increase transfer capability into southeastern New York by 450 MW:

  • Marcy-South Series Compensation and Fraser-Coopers Corners 345-kV line reconductoring
  • Construction of a second Ramapo-Rock Tavern 345-kV line
  • Upgrading underground transmission circuits from Staten Island to the rest of New York City

The “2016 Comprehensive Reliability Plan” – which was issued in April and contains the NYISO’s most recent analysis of potential reliability needs – found no new resources need to be added, meaning that the bulk power system is expected to be capable of meeting peak electrical demand even if a contingency event occurs, such as the loss of a large generator, the report said.

While finding no reliability needs, the 2016 plan noted that reliability margins could change over the study period based upon certain changes in assumptions and potential risk factors, the report said.

In spring 2018, the NYISO will begin developing the 2018 Reliability Needs Assessment, which is scheduled for completion in fall 2018, and will evaluate the 2019-2028 planning horizon, identify any potential reliability needs, as well as establish the process for soliciting solutions, if necessary, the report said.

Discussing public policy and markets, the report noted that new and upgraded transmission capacity will, for instance, help to address concerns about maintaining or replacing aging infrastructure, and facilitate the ability to remove transmission and generation resources for maintenance when needed.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2016 announced a clean energy mandate to address climate change, reduce air pollution, and support fuel diversity in the state’s resource mix, the report said, noting that the Clean Energy Standard (CES) will require 50% of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Achieving public policy objectives will require additional transmission capacity in New York to deliver renewable resources from upstate New York and northern regions to consumers in downstate New York, the report said.

Key considerations include that expansion of the New York transmission system in the St. Lawrence to Marcy corridor would allow renewable resource developers to provide additional output onto the high-voltage system for delivery to consumers in downstate New York, the report said.

Also, Cuomo has called for developing up to 2,400 MW of offshore wind power by 2030 to support the overall CES mandate, the report noted, adding that fulfilling that level of offshore wind development will require significant expansion of transmission capability into Long Island and New York City.

On planning transmission infrastructure for public policy requirements, the report noted that the PSC in July 2015 issued an order that identified relieving congestion in the state’s western region as a public policy transmission need. The NYISO solicited proposals to resolve the Western New York transmission need, and the PSC in October 2016 issued an order confirming the Western New York need and determining that the NYISO should evaluate and select a transmission solution.

The report further stated that the PSC in December 2015 advanced its AC transmission proceeding to a competitive process managed by the NYISO by identifying a public policy transmission need to relieve congestion on the UPNY-SENY and Central East interfaces, which run from central New York, through the Capital Region to the Lower Hudson Valley.

Out of 16 proposed projects, the NYISO identified 13 viable and sufficient projects, the report said, noting that the PSC in January issued an order confirming the AC transmission needs and determined that the NYISO should proceed with its public policy process.

The NYISO expects to complete its evaluation process for Western New York in 2017, and in early 2018 for the AC transmission need, the report said.

Several merchant plans for transmission are in various stages of development. The report added that HVDC projects primarily designed to enhance transmission of power within New York State include the 260-mile, 1,000-MW Empire State Connector, which was announced by OneGRID and would run between Utica and New York City; and the West Point Transmission Project, which aims to add a 1,000-MW facility from the Capital Region to a substation in Buchanan, N.Y.

The report said that HVDC projects primarily designed to bolster the state’s electrical ties with neighboring areas include:

  • Transmission Developers Inc.’s proposed 300-plus-mile Champlain Hudson Power Express project that is designed to deliver up to 1,000 MW from Quebec to New York City
  • The Poseidon Transmission project, which is a 500-MW facility proposed to connect Long Island with New Jersey
  • The Empire Interconnection and Glenwood projects on Long Island connecting with South Brunswick, N.J., each of which aims to add a 275-MW facility
  • The Alps project, which proposes to build a 600-MW inter-tie between Rensselaer County and Berkshire, Mass.
  • The Grand Isle Intertie project, which aims to export 400 MW from Plattsburgh, N.Y., to New Haven, Vt.

In addition, the report said, two projects, the Compass project in Rockland County, and the Cedar Rapids project in St. Lawrence County, each aim to add AC capability to New York’s grid.

The report also noted that wind power output in New York on March 2 marked a new record of 1,574 MW, and that projects capable of supplying another 4,807 MW of wind power are proposed for future interconnection with the New York bulk electricity grid.

There is one grid-scale solar project operating in New York, the 32-MW Long Island Solar Farm, which is located at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, the report said, adding that as of March, 35 solar projects, representing 881 MW of generating capacity, were proposed for interconnection with the New York bulk electric system.

In addition, the report noted that the NYISO last year launched an Energy Storage Integration and Optimization initiative to examine the options available for storage to participate in the NYISO markets and begin discussions with stakeholders on ways to enhance market accessibility for storage resources. The NYISO is beginning the market design effort by identifying the physical and operational characteristics of storage that will shape its participation in the wholesale market.

The NYISO expects its market design effort to be completed by the end of 2018, after which it plans to develop appropriate tariff revisions and software to implement the new market design by 2021, the report added.

Technological advancements and public policies, particularly the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) effort, are encouraging greater adoption of distributed energy resources to meet consumer energy needs as well as electric system needs, the report said.

Among other things, the report noted that this year, the NYISO will join participants from organizations across the country in GridEx IV, as NERC conducts a simulated attack on the U.S. power grid. The GridEx exercise is designed to enhance the coordination of cyber and physical security resources and practices within the industry, as well as improve communication with government partners and other stakeholders.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 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.