The New York State Public Service Commission, in an April 23 order, granted – subject to conditions – Niagara Mohawk Power d/b/a National Grid a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, authorizing the company to build and operate a new substation in the Town of Cicero, as well as relocate and selectively reconductor and rebuild two existing 115-kV transmission lines.
The lines – the Clay to Teall Line 10 (Line 10) and the Clay to DeWitt Line 3 (Line 3) – are in the towns of Clay, Cicero, DeWitt, and Salina in Onondaga County, the commission noted.
“The completion of this project will enable National Grid to maintain reliable transmission services in its Central Region,” the commission said.
As noted in the order, National Grid in May 2015 applied for a certificate, seeking authorization to reconductor or rebuild about 15.5 miles of Line 10 and nearly 13 miles of Line 3.
The existing transmission lines share a right of way (ROW) that generally runs in a southerly direction from National Grid’s Clay substation, located in the Town of Clay, to its Teall substation, located in the Town of Salina. The commission added that the ROW for those lines also passes through the towns of Cicero and DeWitt.
While most of the project was proposed to be located within the existing ROW, at certain points, the acquisition of additional property would be required. Furthermore, the commission added, the proposed transmission structures would be taller than the structures they replaced.
The commission noted that Lines 10 and 3 originate at the Clay substation, but terminate at different points southeast of that substation. Work will be performed on about 15.5 miles of Line 10 and about 12.9 miles of Line 3. The commission also said that the lines are designed to operate at a nominal voltage of 115 kV alternating current (AC), the same as their voltage of initial operation.
According to National Grid, the commission said, the purpose of the project is to relieve post-contingency overloads affecting those transmission lines, thereby maintaining reliable transmission services in the company’s Central Region.
The commission noted that the company in November 2015 supplemented its application to include a request for authority to build and operate a new substation in Cicero, N.Y. The new substation was proposed to be located on property adjacent to the transmission corridor, about 0.28 miles north of the intersection of Route 11 and Route 31 in the Town of Cicero.
Settlement negotiations led to the filing of a joint proposal (JP) that was signed by National Grid, trial staff of the New York State Department of Public Service (DPS), New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the commission added.
Two significant changes reflected in the JP as compared to the application are the substation location and the proposal to implement Option C7, which involves moving the centerline of Line 10 20 feet to the east and the centerline of Line 3 10 feet to the east with respect to the existing centerline locations, thus reducing the separation between the two transmission lines from 50 feet to 40 feet.
To implement Option C7, National Grid will need to obtain transmission line construction and operational easement rights on a 50-foot-wide corridor of land east of the existing 100-foot transmission ROW in that section of the project, the commission added.
In support of Option C7, DPS staff notes that that option has the advantage of significantly reducing the average magnetic fields at the edge of the western ROW at a cost that is comparable to implementing the project without Option C7, the commission said, adding, “We find these arguments persuasive and conclude that the record overall provides sufficient bases for approving this option.”
There are seven project segments, the commission said, adding that existing Lines 10 and 3 will be removed from Segments 1 and 2 and relocated to Segment 7, thus minimizing the need to acquire additional ROW in densely populated residential areas and adjacent to an elementary school in Segment 2.
Segment 1, the commission said, extends from the Clay substation to existing Structure 293 (mile 2.72) in a generally northward direction. Segment 2 extends from existing Structure 293 (mile 2.72) to the existing Bartell Road substation, generally heading to the east. The commission also said that Segment 3 extends from the Bartell Road substation to existing Structure 326 (mile 6.22) in a generally northward direction.
Segment 4 extends from existing Structure 326 (mile 6.22) to existing Structure 349 (mile 8.77) and generally runs from north to south. The exception to the positioning of the new structures in Segment 4 will be in the much narrower ROW section located adjacent to NYS Route 31, the commission added, noting that due to width constraints in that area, additional rights on land adjacent to the western edge of the existing ROW and a permit on New York State Department of
Transportation (NYSDOT) land adjacent to the eastern edge will be required. Those additional rights will be sought so that the parallel 115-kV lines can be relocated adjacent to their present location without creating adverse impacts on nearby businesses, the commission said. That positioning will involve transitioning the Lines 10 and 3 from their proposed 38-foot easterly offset to a centerline
location about four feet west of the existing centerline, the commission noted.
Segment 5 extends from existing Structure 349 (mile 8.77) to Structure 389.5 (mile 12.95), generally continuing its run from north to south. Option C7 is endorsed for a 1.5-mile portion at the beginning of Segment 5, the commission added.
Segment 6 extends from existing Structure 389.5 (mile 12.95) to the Teall Avenue substation (mile 15.53), generally heading west. The commission also said that Segment 7 extends from the Clay substation (mile 15.53) to Structure 326 (mile 18.03).
Noting that several different structure types will be used, the commission said that the predominant structure type for double-circuit Lines 10 and 3 is phase-over-phase configured davit arm monopole structures, to be used for both dead-end and suspension structures. The average height of the double-circuit steel pole structures is about 90 feet and the average span length is about 605 feet, the commission said.
The predominant structure type for single-circuit Line 10 and Line 3 is weathering steel delta configured monopole structures, sometimes referred to as compact structure design, which is proposed for dead-end and suspension structures, the commission said. The average height for the single-circuit structures for the project is about 75 feet and the average span length is about 515 feet, the commission noted.
The wood pole structures that are not being replaced as part of the project – i.e., on Line 3 in Segment 5 between mile 11.04 and mile 12.95 – will need modifications, the commission said.
Further discussing the Cicero substation, the commission said that it will be equipped with two 115-13.2-kV, 24/32/40 MVA load tap change transformers in an eight-feeder open air breaker configuration. The 115-kV tap lines will provide a dual supply feed from Line 10 and Line 3 to the substation. The Line 3 and Line 10 tap lines will be about 250 feet and 160 feet in length, the commission added.
The proposed location for the substation is on the approximately four-acre eastern portion (substation site) of an approximately 6.07-acre site owned by the Town of Cicero, located east of U.S. Route 11, west of Interstate 81, and north of Gillette Road, in the Town of Cicero, the commission said. The substation site is currently used by the town’s Department of Public Works, the commission said.
The commission said that it finds that the nature of the probable environmental impacts resulting from the project includes minimal incremental visual impacts from the construction of the proposed line and the busing, relocation, and reconstruction of certain existing lines; construction impacts on certain regulated wetlands and protected streams and waterbodies; as well as selective clearing of undesirable woody species or saplings on some segments of the project’s ROW, but because almost the entire project will be built along existing electric transmission corridors, the amount of clearing is more limited than it would be if new corridors were being created.
The project represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, considering the state of available technology and the nature and economics of the various alternatives, and the ownership and easement rights of the impacted property, the commission said.
Among other things, the commission said that National Grid is to provide to the secretary prior to the start of construction evidence of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) determination that the final design of the structures proposed for the project will have no impact – or will have impacts mitigated by FAA-directed modifications to such final design – on the five public-use airports that are within 20,000 feet of the project ROW.