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Champlain Hudson transmission line developers seek permit modifications

Highlights

Route adjustments would impact less than 9% of the line: TDI

Stakeholder asks that review period be extended

New York — The developers of the 1,000-MW Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line that would transport power 330 miles from the New York-Canada border to a converter station in Astoria, Queens, have requested permit modification approval from state regulators.

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As part of the $2.2 billion project's development, Transmission Developers Inc. -- which is owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group -- applied in December for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need with the New York State Public Service Commission.

The PSC originally granted the project a Certificate in 2013. TDI submitted two amendments to the commission regarding route adjustments to "less than 9% of the line and modifications to four permit conditions," TDI spokesman John Lacey said in an email Friday.

The PSC's comment period regarding the changes ended Thursday and there is no statutory timeline for the PSC to make a decision, Lacey said.

The Adirondack Park Agency said there may be wetlands impacted by the route changes, the extent of which cannot be determined until spring.

The agency asked to be consulted as to the "methods and conditions necessary to prevent or mitigate impacts to wetlands within the Park," according to their comment submitted to the PSC.

Additionally, Lakeside Farm Properties which owns parcels with approximately 1.1 miles of the proposed route in Washington County said in their comments to the commission that they were concerned the transmission line could lower property values.

Lakeside requested the PSC extend the current review process "to allow adequate time for specific land owners' concerns to be addressed."

ROUTE CHANGES

The high voltage direct current transmission line would be sited in waterways, primarily the Hudson River, or buried along railroad and road rights-of-way.

The route changes include exiting Lake Champlain four miles north of route's current departure point, moving cable locations from the railroad right-of-way to a road right-of-way in Fort Ann and Whitehall, rerouting cables around Downtown Schenectady to avoid the downtown revitalization project and reduce community impacts, crossing Catskill Creek via horizontal directional drilling to avoid a railroad bridge attachment, relocating cables under different streets in Queens to avoid buried infrastructure and relocating the converter station to an adjacent property to simplify the design, according to a TDI statement.

TDI is currently negotiating a deal with New York City through which the city would be the offtaker of the power and Hydro Québec would supply the power from its extensive reservoir system.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to power city government operations with 100% clean energy within five years, with much of the supply sourced through the contract currently being negotiated. The mayor wants to close the deal by the end of 2020, city press officials have said.

"We expect that we will reach financial close by the end of 2020 and start construction in early 2021," TDI's Lacey said Friday.