NYISO board selects NextEra’s Empire State Line Proposal to address public policy need in western New York

The New York ISO (NYISO) on Oct. 17 said that its Board of Directors has selected the “Empire State Line Proposal” from NextEra Energy’s (NYSE:NEE) NextEra Energy Transmission New York to address the public policy need for new transmission in western New York.

As noted in the accompanying “Western New York Public Policy Transmission Planning Report” – which the NYISO said its board has also approved – NextEra’s “Empire State Line Proposal 1,” or “Project T014,” includes a new Dysinger 345-kV substation, a new East Stolle 345-kV switchyard, and a 345-kV line connecting the Dysinger and East Stolle substations, with a 700 MVA 345-kV phase angle regulator (PAR) at the Dysinger end of the line.

The PAR at the Dysinger substation will provide additional operational flexibility by providing a new level of controllability to power flows on the 345-kV network, the report said.

In its statement, the NYISO noted that the two new substations are near Dysinger and Elma, and that the 345-kV line is 20 miles long.

All facilities would predominantly utilize existing rights of way (ROWs), the NYISO said.

Noting that the Dysinger substation would become the new transmission hub in western New York, connecting a total of seven 345-kV lines, the NYISO said that the new hub would provide access to existing renewable resources, as well as provide a backbone for future renewable resource integration in western New York.

NextEra must submit the project to the appropriate governmental agencies and authorities to obtain approvals and permits to site, build, and operate the project, and that includes the New York State Public Service Commission’s (PSC) process for siting of major utility transmission facilities under Article VII of the Public Service Law, the NYISO said.

The NYISO also noted that it will work with NextEra to enter into agreements for the development and operation of the transmission project, including a schedule for siting, permitting, interconnection, construction, and other milestones for entry into service by June 2022.

According to the report, as the selected developer, NextEra will be eligible to allocate and recover the costs associated with its Project T014 to the extent permitted under the NYISO Open Access Transmission Tariff (OATT).

The NYISO noted in its statement that the report details the selection process that led to the decision involving NextEra, which represents the first selection of a transmission project by the NYISO using the Public Policy Transmission Planning Process (PPTPP) approved by FERC under Order No. 1000.

The PPTPP is the newest component of the NYISO’s Comprehensive System Planning Process and considers transmission needs driven by public policy requirements in the local and regional transmission planning processes, the NYISO said.

The NYISO noted that the PPTPP – which was developed in consultation with NYISO stakeholders and the PSC – consists of these steps relative to identified transmission needs:

  • Identification of public policy requirements/public policy needs
  • Solicitation of proposed solutions to identified needs
  • Evaluation of the viability and sufficiency of proposed solutions
  • Evaluation and selection by the NYISO of the more efficient or cost-effective transmission project to satisfy the need

The NYISO noted that a core concept of its evaluation and selection process is the use of an independent consultant to review each proposed project and apply a consistent methodology across all projects for establishing cost and schedule estimates as well as routing assessments.

The decision involving NextEra is the culmination of the joint effort by the NYISO, PSC, developers, and stakeholders to address transmission needs in western New York, which are driven by state public policy requirements to more fully utilize renewable energy from the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station as well as imports from Ontario, the NYISO said.

While maximizing the flow of energy from renewable resources, the transmission upgrades are expected to provide such reliability, environmental, and economic benefits as improving transmission security, reducing emissions, and increasing consumer access to lower-cost resources, the NYISO said.

The recommendations in the report were developed in response to a July 2015 PSC order that found “significant environmental, economic, and reliability benefits could be achieved by relieving the transmission congestion identified in western New York,” the NYISO said.

Under that PSC order, the NYISO issued a solicitation for proposals to address the western New York need, the NYISO said, adding that developers submitted 12 proposed projects. The NYISO noted that it identified 10 viable and sufficient projects from five developers. The report describes the comparative evaluations performed for the proposed transmission projects, culminating in the NYISO’s recommendations for ranking and selection of NextEra’s Empire State Line as the more efficient or cost-effective transmission solution, the NYISO said.

According to the report, three major types of analysis were conducted in evaluating quantitative metrics:

  • Transfer limit analysis, which evaluates the amount of power that can be transferred across an interface while observing applicable reliability criteria
  • Resource adequacy analysis, with resource adequacy being the ability of the electric systems to supply the aggregate electricity demand and energy requirements of the customers at all times, taking into account scheduled and unscheduled outages of system elements
  • Production cost simulation, with a production cost analysis evaluating the proposed public policy transmission projects and their impact on the NYISO wholesale electricity markets

The NYISO also said in its report that it and its independent consultant, Substation Engineering Company (SECO), evaluated each developer’s capital cost estimates for their proposed public policy transmission project for accuracy and reasonableness, and on a comparative basis with other proposed public policy transmission projects.

SECO’s “overnight capital cost estimates for each project in 2017 dollars,” includes the cost estimate of $181m for Project T014, the report noted.

The NYISO also said that it considered how the proposed public policy transmission projects affect flexibility in operating the system, such as dispatch of generation, access to operating reserves, access to ancillary services, or the ability to remove transmission for maintenance.

Two project proposals include controllable elements, including Project T014, which proposes the PAR at the Dysinger substation, the NYISO said, noting that the 700 MVA PAR could regulate the direction and amount of megawatts flowing on the new 345-kV path between the Dysinger and Stolle substation, and thus offer an additional degree of controllability to accommodate different system configurations.

The NYISO also noted that Project T014 would have a “low” impact level to grid operations during construction, with the potential impacted facilities during construction being the 345-kV Niagara, Somerset, Rochester, and Stolle Road substations.

Summarizing the evaluation results for Project T014, the report listed these factors:

  • The Dysinger-East Stolle Road 345-kV line is proposed on existing ROW or new ROW as an alternative
  • The estimated cost by SECO is one of the lowest
  • The estimated project schedule by SECO is the shortest at 40 months
  • The cost per megawatt ratio is relatively lower, and the production cost saving over the cost ratio is the highest when considering the various scenarios evaluated
  • Excellent operability and expandability

Among other things, the NYISO also said in its report that compared with other “Tier 1 projects,” Project T014 more efficiently utilizes the existing and proposed transmission facilities.

“The proposed Dysinger substation would become the new 345 kV hub in western New York where seven 345 kV lines are connected, and electrically reduce the distance for the existing Niagara to Rochester 345 kV transmission corridor,” the NYISO said.  

Based on SECO’s evaluation, there are no critical risks identified regarding siting, equipment procurement, real estate acquisition, construction, and scheduling, the NYISO said, adding, “Therefore, the NYISO staff determined that T014 is both the more efficient and cost effective transmission solution to satisfy the western NY Public Policy Transmission Need.”

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.