Fortis‘ (NYSE:FTS) Central Hudson Gas & Electric on Dec. 29 filed with the New York State Department of Public Service an application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to rebuild the H and SB Lines of about 23.6 miles from 69-kV to 115-kV standards in the City of Kingston and Towns of Ulster and Saugerties in Ulster County, as well as in the Town of Catskill and the Village of Catskill in Greene County.
The company noted that the project would generally occur within an existing approximately 150-foot-wide right of way (ROW). About 1.2 miles of the H Line route is proposed to be relocated to avoid a sensitive environmental resource area designated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as the Great Vly Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The company added that throughout the remainder of the H and SB Lines, the project would remove and replace all structures, insulators, electrical conductors, and associated transmission components of the existing H and SB 23.6-mile ROW with the exception of 24 structures that would be retained.
Those 24 structures include those that must be or were replaced on an emergency basis, or were determined to be structurally sound and would not need to be replaced as part of the project. Central Hudson added that there are currently 256 existing transmission structures within the H and SB Lines ROW, which would be replaced with 229 new/replacement structures. The new line would have 253 structures in total, the company said.
Discussing the project’s location, the company noted that at the south end of the project in the Town of Ulster, the existing SB Line leaves the Hurley Avenue substation, runs 0.6 miles east before turning north and continuing for 9.8 miles through the Town of Ulster, the City of Kingston, and the Town of Saugerties.
Within the Town of Saugerties, the SB Line crosses Interstate 87 and then continues north for another one mile before terminating at the Saugerties substation.
The company added that from the Saugerties substation, the H Line continues north about 3.5 miles before entering the Great Vly WMA in the Towns of Saugerties and Catskill. The H Line continues along the edge of the Great Vly WMA and associated wetlands for about 0.6 miles, before exiting the Great Vly WMA and continuing east. Central Hudson added that once exiting the Great Vly WMA, the H Line continues east to a Line Tap in the quarry, and then proceeds generally north about seven miles, terminating at the North Catskill substation in the Town of Catskill.
The project is needed to address the deteriorating condition of the “very old lines,” the company said, adding that the existing 69-kV H and SB Lines originally were installed in 1928 as double-circuit steel lattice structures using 1/0 Cu conductor for each of the four circuits; the double circuits subsequently were converted to two single circuits with 2 1/0 Cu conductors per phase.
An assessment of their condition determined that 32% of the lines’ structures were in need of replacement or the addition of mid-span poles to correct sag issues; an additional 35.5% of structures are in need of maintenance repairs. The company added that some identified issues found were severe enough to prompt replacements of nine structures in 2017.
The total estimated cost of the proposed H & SB Electric Transmission Lines Rebuild is about $41m, the company said.
Environmental studies that were primarily conducted by Central Hudson and its consultant, VHB, concluded that the construction and operation of the project would result in limited and temporary adverse environmental effects, which would occur primarily during the construction phase.
Central Hudson also said that since it has designed the project to be built and operated within or along existing transmission corridors and has proposed certain mitigation measures, the company has minimized the potential for the project to result in adverse impacts in such areas as land uses, visual resources, as well as terrestrial and wildlife resources.
Nearby residences may experience short-term disturbance and traffic inconvenience associated with construction activities. The company added that to minimize potential construction effects to adjacent landowners, it would, for instance, provide timely information to adjacent property owners and tenants regarding the planned construction activities and schedules.