The New York State Public Service Commission on Nov. 14 said that it has approved the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) project that entails rebuilding its existing 86-mile, 230-kV Moses-Adirondack 1 and 2 transmission lines (M-A 1&2 lines), as well as upgrading its Moses switchyard and the Adirondack substation in order “to provide a more robust, resilient and reliable electric system in Upstate New York.”
As noted in the order, NYPA in April 2018 filed an application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need under Public Service Law (PSL) Article VII granting it authority to rebuild and operate the existing lines — which extend from the St. Lawrence Power Project’s Robert Moses Power Dam Switchyard in the Town of Massena, St. Lawrence County, to the Adirondack substation in the Town of Croghan, Lewis County — as well as to build certain upgrades to the switchyard and substation.
The commission noted that the existing lines consist of about eight miles of double-circuit lattice structures and 78 miles of single-circuit predominantly wood H-frame structures operating at 230 kV. The M-A 1&2 lines occupy a 250-foot ROW and travel through 12 towns from north to south: Massena, Louisville, Norfolk, Madrid, Potsdam, Canton, Russell, Hermon, Edwards, and Pitcairn in St. Lawrence County, as well as Diana and Croghan in Lewis County. The commission added that about 1.8 miles of the ROW is located in the Adirondack State Park.
The commission noted that the project’s estimated cost is about $668.7m in 2018 dollars, with that estimated cost based on the assumption that the first phase of the project will begin construction in January 2020, and be completed in June 2023.
The commission also noted that NYPA in September filed a joint proposal that it signed, along with New York State Department of Public Service (DPS) staff, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM).
Under that joint proposal, the project would be rebuilt in two phases, with the first phase involving rebuilding about 78 miles of single-circuit, predominantly wood pole H-frame structures, originally installed in 1942, with two sets of single-circuit steel monopoles. The commission added that NYPA also would replace the existing shield wire on the first eight miles of the M-A 1&2 lines with optical ground wire cable. Those facilities would be designed to operate at 345 kV but would be operated at 230 kV until completion of the second phase of the project. The commission added that except for the approximately one-mile portion of the lines located on the State University of New York at Canton (SUNY Canton) campus, the project would be built entirely within the existing 250-foot right of way (ROW).
On the SUNY Canton campus, the project would be rerouted to the west, between the western side of the campus and the existing Messina-Marcy line ROW, the commission said, adding that SUNY Canton owns the land required for the routing change and has agreed to provide NYPA with an ROW across that state-owned land in exchange for NYPA’s release of its existing ROW through the center of the campus.
Under the joint proposal, the second phase of the project would involve rebuilding eight miles of existing double-circuit steel lattice structures into the Adirondack substation with single-circuit steel monopoles, as well as the construction of new 345-kV switchyards at the Moses switchyard and the Adirondack substation. The commission added that upon completion of the second phase, which would be coordinated with a similar upgrade of National Grid’s Adirondack to Porter 230-kV line to 345 kV, and assuming NYPA requests and is granted an appropriate amendment to the certificate issued in this proceeding, the M-A 1&2 lines would operate at 345 kV.
The commission noted that it finds that the project is needed to ensure reliable service throughout the state, adding that the proposed facilities are more than 76 years old, which is well past their design lives. Rebuilding the lines would make them less susceptible to failure and would reduce maintenance costs, the commission said, noting that the lines are needed currently and will be needed in the future to transmit power generated by hydro, renewable, and fossil fuel facilities in Canada, as well as Upstate New York.
The commission said that it agrees with the signatory parties that the project, as proposed under the joint proposal, represents the minimum adverse environmental impact and minimum adverse impact on active farming operations, considering the state of available technology, as well as the nature and economics of the various alternatives and other pertinent considerations. The project traverses active agricultural land, three agricultural districts, and about 16 miles of cropland, pasture, and hay fields. The commission added that NYPA attempted to avoid impacts to active agricultural fields when designing the project by siting the new transmission structures at the edge of active fields, where possible.
Among other things, the commission said that the project is not anticipated to have any impact on the Indiana Bat, Northern Long-eared Bat, Bald Eagle, Upland Sandpiper, or their habitats. Some Blanding’s Turtle habitat would be impacted during project construction, and depending on the construction methodology, as well as time of year work is performed, certain limited construction activities may result in the incidental take of individual Blanding’s turtles. The commission noted that NYPA would adhere to the Blanding’s Turtle protective measures identified in the proposed certificate conditions and Environmental Management and Construction Plan (EM&CP).
The commission said that it adopts the proposed certificate conditions attached to the joint proposal, with two modifications, including that without objection, NYPA has agreed to modify Certificate Condition 1 to clarify that it would operate the project at 230 kV until it requests and is granted an amendment to operate the project at 345 kV and that it would include an updated system impact study with any such request.
As noted in the order, other conditions include that if construction of the project has not started within 18 months after the issuance of the certificate, the certificate may be vacated with notice to NYPA.
Subcontractors interested in participating on this project can contact NYPA here.