The New York State Public Service Commission, in a Sept. 17 order, granted certain waivers requested by North Bergen Liberty Generating, LLC (NBLG) regarding a proposed 345-kV transmission project.
As noted in the order, NBLG, as authorized agent for Cross Hudson, LLC, in April filed for an amendment of a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need under Public Service Law (PSL) Article VII. The certificate, issued by the commission in April 2003, and amended in October 2004, authorized, subject to conditions, the construction of a single-circuit, 600-MW, 345-kV AC electric generator lead connecting the Bergen generation station in Ridgefield, N.J., to Consolidated Edison Company of New York’s (Con Edison) substation at West 49th Street in Manhattan. That project was not built, the commission added.
In its application for an amendment to the certificate, NBLG proposes to build an approximately 9.6-mile submarine and underground, double-circuit, 1,200-MW, 345-kV transmission generator lead and associated equipment extending from its proposed generation facility in North Bergen, N.J., to Con Edison’s West 49th Street substation.
The commission added that about 3.42 miles of the generator lead would run within the New York portion of the Hudson River and .40 miles would run underground in Manhattan.
With its application, NBLG filed a motion seeking waivers of certain regulations relating to the filing of certain maps, aerial photographs, architectural drawings, capital cost estimates, and a System Reliability Impact Study (SRIS).
The commission added that among other things, NBLG requested a waiver of the requirement that its application include New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) maps at 1:250,000 scale showing the relationship of the proposed facility to its overall system with respect to the location, length, and capacity of the proposed facility and of any existing facility related to the proposed facility; the location and function of any structure to be built on or adjacent to the right of way (ROW); the location and designation of each point of connection between an existing and proposed facility; and nearby crossing or connecting ROWs or facilities of other utilities.
NBLG states its belief that NYSDOT maps at 1:250,000 scale are no longer available and offers to submit United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps at a scale of 1:24,000, which, it asserts, would provide the requisite information in adequate detail.
The commission added that regulatory staff states that the requested waiver is reasonable because the USGS maps are sufficient to show the relationship of the project facilities to the interconnected electrical system.
“We agree and therefore grant the requested waiver of the section 86.3(a)(2) mapping requirements, with the understanding that the waiver does not extend to” certain drawings and related information described in a July 2018 letter, the commission said.
In that letter, the secretary to the commission informed NBLG that it was required to remedy certain deficiencies in its application and required it to provide, among other things, mapped existing utility locations along the proposed on-land portion of the route from the transition vaults to Con Edison’s 49th Street substation.
NBLG also requested a waiver of the requirement involving submission of design, profile, and architectural drawings and descriptions of the proposed facility that include a profile of the centerline of the ROW at exaggerated vertical scale. The commission added that NBLG proposes to provide engineering drawings showing the design of the project, including the cross section of the cable installation. NBLG asserts that because the entire cable route would be beneath the bottom of the Hudson River or below ground on the upland portion of the route, the profile would be uniform and, unlike with above-ground facilities, adequately can be represented without exaggerated vertical scale.
The commission added: “We agree with staff’s assertion that NBLG’s proposal to submit engineering drawings that would show the design of the project including a cross section of the generator lead installation is reasonable. Accordingly, we hereby grant the requested waiver or Rule 86.6(c).”
Noting that an applicant must provide a “detailed estimate of the total capital costs of the proposed facilities,” showing, for instance, the estimated cost of the ROW, the commission said that NBLG proposes to submit an overall cost estimate without the detail required by section 86.10(a)(1) through (9) because, it maintains, the proposed project is a merchant generator lead that would be built entirely with private financing, the costs of the project would not be subject to recovery from regulated ratepayers, and the project would transmit power solely from a generating facility owned by its affiliate.
Con Edison objects to NBLG’s requested waiver to the extent it relates to the scope and cost of substation retrofits NBLG expects to be part of the project. The commission added that NBLG generally would be responsible for all costs to interconnect with Con Edison’s substation.
The commission said that it therefore agrees with staff that the requirements of section 86.10 may be waived because NBLG is a merchant transmission developer and no regulated ratepayers would be directly impacted by the costs associated with the project.
Discussing the SRIS, the commission noted that Article VII applications must include an SRIS “forwarded by the Transmission Planning Advisory Subcommittee [TPAS] for approval by the operating committee of the New York Independent System Operator [NYISO], which shows effects on stability of the interconnected system.”
NBLG said that the SRIS is being prepared and will be submitted in due course as part of the application. The commission added that in the meantime, NBLG requests a waiver of the SRIS requirement to allow review and processing of the application pending receipt of the SRIS. Staff and Con Edison oppose NBLG’s request, pointing out that NBLG proposes to double the original transfer limit from one line transmitting 600 MW to two lines transmitting a total of 1,200 MW.
The commission added that the SRIS filing requirements allow staff and other parties sufficient time to review the proposed project’s effects on the bulk power system and directly relate to whether the project “conforms to a long-range plan for expansion of the electric power grid of the electric systems serving this state and interconnected utility systems, which will serve the interests of the electric system economy and reliability.”
NBLG’s proposed partial waiver of the SRIS filing requirement, if granted, would not result in any more expeditious processing of the application because the case schedule still would have to allow sufficient time for staff and other parties to review the SRIS.
The commission added: “To proceed otherwise would not serve the public interest. Accordingly, we decline to grant NBLG’s requested partial waiver of the SRIS filing requirement.”