Saratoga County

Utility may add second power line

National Grid is studying adding a second high-voltage transmission line in the existing 37-mile-lon
Andrea Costanzo/The Daily Gazette
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Andrea Costanzo/The Daily Gazette

National Grid is studying adding a second high-voltage transmission line in the existing 37-mile-long Spier Falls power line corridor to meet growing electricity demand in the county.

The utility said the need is tied to both general residential and commercial growth and plans for Advanced Micro Devices to build a computer chip factory in Malta that would use as much power as a small city.

Some residents who have been notified by National Grid because they live near the route say they’re concerned about any expansion.

“We want to see what we can do to fight it,” said Anthony Sinopoli of Sweetman Road, Charlton.

Sinopoli said he’s worried about suspected health risks from electromagnetic fields if a new line is built within 100 feet of his backyard, and loss of property value. He’s talking with his neighbors and wrote this week to the town supervisor.

The Spier Falls route is only one of several routes under consideration because of the need to increase the county’s power supply, National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella said.

“We’re looking at several different options, and that’s one of them,” he said Thursday.

Other possible transmission line routes are farther east, in the Northway corridor area, he said.

The 100-foot-wide Spier Falls utility corridor runs from another transmission route in the Princetown-Rotterdam area of Schenectady County to the Spier Falls hydroelectric dam in Moreau. It currently contains a 115-kilovolt transmission line and an underground natural gas line.

The right-of-way, which National Grid owns, runs through Rotterdam, Princetown, Glenville, Charlton, Ballston, Milton, Greenfield, Corinth and Moreau.

Sinopoli said some neighbors have been told verbally that the utility needs a wider right-of-way, and could take their land.

But Stella said National Grid hasn’t made that decision. “It’s really too soon to know that,” he said.

The form letter sent to residents all along the corridor doesn’t say any additional land will be taken, but cautions people they could be seeing utility workers working near their properties. It also included a map showing a new substation on Randall Road in Ballston, near the Charlton town line, that would be used to distribute power toward the Malta area.

The $3.2 billion AMD factory being proposed in the Luther Forest Technology Campus would use 40 megawatts of electricity, according to information the company has submitted to the town of Malta. That’s the average usage of between 12,000 and 35,000 homes, depending on what utility industry estimate is used.

Long-term plans call for three computer chip plants, which together could use 120 megawatts.

Because of the tech park’s large potential power demand, and to try to ensure against power disruptions, the site will be fed electricity by both National Grid from the west and New York State Electric and Gas from the east.

There’s $10 million in federal government money for Luther Forest that’s been designated for off-site improvements to increase regional power reliability. Stella said he didn’t know if the new line was tied to that money.

National Grid said the county needs to get more power from somewhere, regardless of the tech campus plans.

“We have to look at some options to increase the power supply just because of the growth in Saratoga County and also because of AMD,” Stella said.

Whatever transmission line route is finally decided on will need approval from the state Public Service Commission. Stella said an application could be filed by late spring or early summer.

PSC spokesman James Denn said the application would be reviewed as a major electric transmission facility under Public Service Law Article VII, which sets forth requirements for public review, including notifications to the public and affected municipalities, and potentially could require hearings.

“It’s a long process,” Stella said.

Charlton Town Supervisor Alan R. Grattidge said Thursday he hasn’t received any official notices from National Grid.

“If we do, the town will take whatever measures are appropriate to ensure a town role in the review of the plans,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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