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New York unveils major transmission project to boost renewables

New York intends to rebuild nearly 80 miles of an existing World War II-era transmission line in the northern part of the state as part of a $440 million project Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled to spur renewable energy development and aid the state in meeting its Clean Energy Standard goal of 50% in non-polluting electricity by 2030.

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Construction is expected to start in 2019 on the "Smart Path Reliability project" and it will take several years to complete.

When the rebuild of the Moses-Adirondack transmission artery is finished in the early 2020s, the line will be able to transmit up to 345 kV, but will be operated in the near term at its current level of 230 kV.

Cuomo, a Democrat, said Friday in a statement that the rebuilt line will be able to carry supply from the New York Power Authority's St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt hydroelectric plant as well as zero-emissions power from newly built wind farms and solar projects in the state to higher population areas.



The purpose of the project, he said, is to help New York achieve its ambitious CES goals in just over a decade.

A controversial part of the CES is intended to provide zero-emissions credit support for Exelon's struggling nuclear power plants in upstate New York. That portion of the CES is under federal appeal after being contested by competitive power providers and the Electric Power Supply Association, a national trade group.

"This critical upgrade will help strengthen our clean energy economy in every corner of the state, and help New York reach its nation-leading" CES, Cuomo said. "By investing in the long-term sustainability of our state's energy infrastructure today, we are helping to ensure New Yorkers will have access to a cleaner, greener future for years to come."

In 2012, the governor released the New York Energy Highway Blueprint, calling for investment in transmission to facilitate the flow of clean energy across the state's power grid and contribute to a more robust wholesale energy market. According to the governor's office, early progress has been realized with completion of several transmission projects including the Marcy South Series Compensation Project and the Ramapo-to-Rock Tavern project.

The federal government built the existing Moses-Adirondack transmission line in 1942 and NYPA acquired it in 1953. The transmission lines run from Massena in St. Lawrence County to NYPA's St. Lawrence-FDR hydro plant, to a substation in the town of Croghan in Lewis County.

Environmental groups are supporting the rebuild. "A robust transmission network is essential for New York's efforts to scale up and deploy renewable energy," Rory Christian, director of New York clean energy at the Environmental Defense Fund, said. "This will increase opportunities to develop clean energy sources throughout the state, and connect the downstate region to existing affordable electricity generated in upstate New York."

Jackson Morris, director of Eastern Energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, added that the project will play "a critical role in ensuring that New York's abundant wind and solar resources can deliver electricity to customers throughout the state."

Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York, said New York is "ripe for renewables development" and transmission expansion that benefits in-state generators by moving more power across the state to attract investments to enrich all New Yorkers.

"Building out the state's transmission system creates jobs, increases tax revenues and allows for a more robust and competitive electricity marketplace, which keeps costs low for consumers," he said.

(This version of the story corrects the name of a group in the sixth paragraph.)

--Bob Matyi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Valarie Jackson, valarie.jackson@spglobal.com