N.Y. regulators approve first phase of NYPA’s $484m Smart Path project

State regulators said that NYPA is to not commence construction until it has received a “notice to proceed with construction” letter sent by the deputy director of the Environmental Certification and Compliance Section of the Office of Electric, Gas and Water

The New York State Public Service Commission on Feb. 6 said that it has approved the first phase of the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) plan to rebuild its 86-mile Moses-Adirondack 1 and 2 transmission lines that run from St. Lawrence County to Lewis County, as well as to upgrade its Moses switchyard in the Town of Massena, St. Lawrence County and the Adirondack substation in the Town of Croghan, Lewis County.

The $484m Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability Project is designed to provide a more robust, resilient, and reliable electric system in Upstate New York, the commission said, adding that the line — portions of which were built in 1942 — begins in the Town of Massena and carries electricity from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project to the Adirondack substation. Those North Country transmission lines connect economical, renewable energy into the statewide power system, including low-cost hydropower from NYPA’s St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, as well as power from newly built renewable energy sources, the commission said.

The commission said that its approval will allow NYPA to begin construction of the first phase of the project this spring, noting that the first phase includes replacing 78 miles of the existing wooden structures and replacing them with steel monopoles. The rebuilt lines were be taller, stronger, less susceptible to failure, and able to better withstand such inclement weather as ice storms, the commission said.

The rebuilt lines for the first phase are expected to be completed in 2023, the commission said.

The second phase of the project will involve rebuilding eight miles of existing steel structures coming out of the Robert-Moses switchyard in the Town of Massena, as well as rebuilding 0.4 miles of steel structures into the Adirondack substation with steel monopoles, and building a new 345-kV switchyard at the Robert Moses switchyard and the Adirondack substation, the commission said.

In its entirety, the project traverses through 12 towns from north to south — Massena, Louisville, Norfolk, Madrid, Potsdam, Canton, Russell, Hermon, Edwards, and Pitcarin in St. Lawrence County, as well as Diana and Croghan in Lewis County, the commission noted.

As noted in its Feb. 6 order approving the environmental management and construction plan (EM&CP) for the project, the commission in November 2019 issued a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to NYPA to rebuild the existing Moses-Adirondack (M-A) 1&2 230-kV transmission facility. The certificate conditions contain several requirements for compliance, including a requirement that NYPA submit for public review and commission approval, plans detailing the facility design, construction, and environmental controls (the EM&CP).

NYPA filed a proposed EM&CP for approval in December 2019, the commission added, noting that no public comments were received on that filing. Informal comments were submitted to NYPA by state Department of Public Service staff and state Department of Agricultural and Markets staff. NYPA addressed those comments in a revised EM&CP, which was filed last month.

The commission added that its order approves the EM&CP so that NYPA may begin construction and installation of the transmission facility.

Among other things, the commission said that NYPA is to not commence construction until it has received a “notice to proceed with construction” letter sent by the deputy director of the Environmental Certification and Compliance Section of the Office of Electric, Gas and Water.