The New York State Public Service Commission on Jan. 15 said that opportunities for public information and comment regarding NextEra Energy Transmission New York’s (NEETNY) request to build and operate a 345-kV transmission line and associated switchyards will be provided at information forums and public statement hearings to be held on Feb. 13 in Alden, N.Y.
According to the commission’s notice, NEETNY’s proposed Empire State Line (ESL) Project would be located in the Town of Royalton in Niagara County and the towns of Alden, Newstead, Lancaster, and Elma in Erie County, and would consist of:
- The new approximately 20-mile line
- The new 345-kV Dysinger switchyard in Niagara County
- The new East Stolle switchyard in Erie County
The line would be built in an existing utility corridor, owned by New York State Electric and Gas, and would connect the proposed Dysinger and East Stolle switchyards to each other, the commission said. Two sets of transmission lines – about 0.5 and 04 miles long, respectively, also would be built to connect the new switchyards to already existing transmission lines.
For those who cannot attend or prefer not to speak at a public statement hearing, there are other ways to comment about the case, including through the commission’s website (Case 18-T-0499), the commission added. Comments submitted via those alternate means will be accepted throughout the pendency of the proceeding, but are requested by Feb. 19, the commission said.
As TransmissionHub reported, NEETNY on Dec. 14, 2018, filed with the commission a petition requesting that the commission grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) under Section 68 of the Public Service Law (PSL) authorizing NEETNY to exercise the rights granted to it by certain towns to occupy and traverse public property in relation to the ESL Project.
NEETNY noted that it filed in August 2018 an application with the commission for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need under Article VII of the PSL for authorization to build and operate the ESL project. That application is pending before the commission.
NEETNY also noted that the commission in July 2015 issued an order stating that congestion in Western New York was adversely impacting the performance of the bulk power transmission system by limiting the output of the state’s largest renewable resource, the Niagara hydroelectric power plant.
The commission further determined that relieving congestion in Western New York would increase access to additional imports of renewable energy from Ontario. NEETNY added that the commission also determined that significant environmental, economic, and reliability benefits could be achieved by relieving the transmission congestion identified in Western New York, including access to increased output from the New York Power Authority (NYPA) Niagara hydroelectric facility and system reliability benefits, specifically, increased operational flexibility, efficiency, and avoiding the need to maintain generation that would otherwise retire.
The commission directed the New York ISO (NYISO) to consider solutions for increasing Western New York transmission capability sufficient to ensure 2,700 MW from NYPA’s Niagara hydroelectric generating facility and 1,000 MW of renewable imports from Ontario could be transmitted across the Niagara tie lines.
NEETNY also said that the NYISO has determined that the ESL Project is the most efficient and cost-effective solution to address the Western New York public policy transmission needs. NEETNY said that the NYISO concluded that the ESL Project would enable delivery of 2,700 MW of NYPA’s Niagara hydroelectric facility and 1,000 MW of import from Ontario, provide $274m in production cost savings, reduce New York Control Area Demand Congestion by $582m, and reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 7.4 million tons.
PSL § 68(1) provides that no gas corporation or electric corporation is to begin construction of a gas plant or electric plant without first having obtained the permission and approval of the commission.
“No such corporation shall exercise any right or privilege under any franchise hereafter granted, or under any franchise heretofore granted but not heretofore actually exercised, or the exercise of which shall have been suspended for more than one year, without first having obtained a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the commission,” PSL § 68(1) states. “Before such certificate shall be issued a certified copy of the charter of such corporation shall be filed in the office of the commission, together with a verified statement of the president and secretary of the corporation, showing that it has received the required consent of the proper municipal authorities. The commission shall have power to grant the permission and approval herein specified whenever it shall after due hearing determine that such construction or such exercise of the right, privilege or franchise is convenient and necessary for the public service. In making such a determination, the commission shall consider the economic feasibility of the corporation, the corporation’s ability to finance improvements of a gas plant or electric plant, render safe, adequate and reliable service, and provide just and reasonable rates, and whether issuance of a certificate is in the public interest.”
NEETNY added that while the requirement for commission construction approval will be considered in the Article VII proceeding, the requirement for approval of the exercise of a franchise has not been supplanted. The commission has concluded that, as used in PSL § 68, the term “franchise” includes consents to use municipal property. Accordingly, in determining whether to grant a CPCN to NEETNY, the commission need not consider the environmental compatibility and public need issues, or whether issuance of a certificate is in the public interest, as those issues are being addressed in the Article VII proceeding.
Rather, in this proceeding, the commission should only “consider the economic feasibility of the corporation, the corporation’s ability to finance improvements of a gas plant or electric plant, render safe, adequate and reliable service, and provide just and reasonable rates…,” NEETNY said.
As noted in the petition, NEETNY’s parent company is NextEra Energy Transmission, LLC, which is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE).