Friday, April 19, 2013

PSC Approves $2B Quebec-to-Queens Transmission Line

The New York State Public Service Commission has approved the construction of a 1,000 megawatt power transmission line stretching 330 miles from the Canadian border to Queens. The line would terminate at a converter station located in Consolidated Edison’s Astoria complex where a high voltage circuit will connect to the nearby New York Power Authority substation. From the substation, another set of HV cables will stretch three miles under Long Island City streets to Con Edison’s Rainey substation. The privately financed project is estimated to cost around $2 billion, and would transmit enough power to light a million New York City homes.

The 330-mile line would pump 1,000 megawatts downstate—increasing the city's energy supply by around 10%, state regulators said. The subterranean line would wend its way from Canada, under Lake Champlain, the Hudson River, highways and railroad right-of-ways, to a Consolidated Edison converter station in Astoria, Queens.

The project will be privately financed, and regulators said they approved the project because they said ratepayers would not be at risk of seeing their payments go up, should the project go over budget. 

Some obstacles, however, remain. Champlain Hudson Power Express, which received state Public Service Commission's approval Thursday, must still get federal permits and secure private financing. The company behind Hudson Power is Transmission Developers, a Canadian concern backed by New York private-equity group The Blackstone Group.

The project, several years in the making, also faces some opposition from a coalition that is pushing for the creation of power sources downstate. New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, made up of several business and labor groups, criticized the state's decision to connect the line to Canadian power, most which is hydroelectric.

"It's long term not going to generate any jobs in New York," an Electricity Alliance spokesman said. "It's just a dedicated line where the power will be produced in Canada, and payments sent to Canada."

The power lines are slated to start operating by 2018. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made rebuilding the state's energy infrastructure a priority for his economic development plan, partly because transmitting electricity hundreds of miles across old lines means much of the energy produced upstate is lost before it can be distributed to New York City users.

The Electricity Alliance argues that power should be produced locally. Environmentalists had also voiced some opposition to the project. As part of the deal, Hudson Power Express agreed to create and fund a $117.15 million trust "for the enhancement of aquatic habit