Work on a new high-voltage electric substation in Rotterdam and pole replacements could start early next month, after the state Public Service Commission recently approved the first phase of a $854 million upgrade to existing major electric transmission lines between Utica and New Scotland.
The 93-mile line that runs through Oneida, Herkimer, Montgomery, Schenectady and Albany counties is being upgraded from a 230-kilovolt transmission capacity to 345-kilovolt, with construction of a new substation in Princetown, upgrades to the existing substation in Rotterdam, and replacement of all the aging power poles along the route.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has made upgrading transmission systems and converting the state’s power supply to clean energy major goals of his administration, touted the project as “designed to speed the flow of clean, reliable electricity to high-demand markets downstate” — though developers have also said it will also boost power reliability in the Capital Region.
The project is expected to stimulate the local and regional economy by increasing employment and earnings in the construction industry, the governor said.
“New York is taking aggressive action to become a leader in the green energy economy by enhancing the reliability and resiliency of the state’s energy infrastructure and constructing a new energy superhighway to move energy to high demand areas downstate efficiently,” Cuomo said.
New York Power Authority hydroelectric dams in western and northern New York — and Canadian hydropower — are among the state’s major electricity sources, but much of the state’s power demand comes from the Capital Region and areas farther south. Because of that, utility regulators say the lack of transmission capacity through the Mohawk Valley has created a bottleneck — one the upgrade will partially address.
The PSC on Thursday approved the first phase of the project, which includes the start of work on a new substation next to the established Gordon Road substation in Rotterdam. Approvals for a second phase, work at the Princetown substation site and between there and New Scotland, is expected at a Feb. 11 PSC meeting.
The Marcy to New Scotland Upgrade Project, as it is known, is being developed jointly by a private company, LS Power Grid New York Corp., and the New York Power Authority.
The work will include the removal of existing transmission lines and installation of new lines throughout the corridor. Cuomo’s office said the project will replace aging and outdated transmission towers — some more than 60 years old — with the new technologies that enable more efficient energy flow, and use fewer power poles. The work is expected to last into late 2023.
“The New York Power Authority owns and operates one-third of the state’s transmission system,” said New York Power Authority CEO and President Gil C. Quiniones. “We are pleased to lead and lend our expertise and experience to the Marcy to New Scotland Upgrade Project, working with our partner LS Power Grid New York Corporation. Together, we will enhance our ability to break up congestion points and to onboard more clean energy to our state’s electric grid.”
LS Power Grid New York Corporation CEO Paul Segal said project construction in Schenectady and Albany counties is expected to begin in early February.