ROTTERDAM — Hikers in the Plotter Kill Preserve will notice power line work underway near the bottom of hill this summer but are expected to find few trail closures.
The lines are near the eastern end of the 93-mile Marcy-to-New Scotland Upgrade Project, an $845 million effort to prepare the power grid to handle more electricity.
The project is a joint effort by the New York Power Authority and LS Power Grid New York.
LS Power Grid Assistant Vice President Casey Carroll said Tuesday that the work in Rotterdam involves replacing wooden poles with steel supports and replacing the two lines they hold aloft with newer wire.
“We got our permits to get underway in February,” he said.
The priority is to replace the first line with new wire and complete the rebuild before summer so as not to limit the flow of electricity during air conditioning season, the period of greatest power consumption in the state.
It’s slated to be re-energized by the end of May.
The trails below the power lines must be closed while the wires are being strung for reasons of safety, Carroll said. But in other periods, if there’s work underway but no risk to passersby, LS Power Grid will station someone in the ravine to wave them through or escort them across.
“We recognize that’s an important recreation area in the community so we’re really trying to minimize any trail closures there,” Carroll said.
The grassy slope down the hillsides beneath the power lines has been converted to a temporary gravel pathway for vehicles, wooden matting has been laid down in delicate areas to protect them from tire damage and multiple layers of erosion and sediment control have been put in place to protect the water in the Plotter Kill.
A Schenectady County spokeswoman said efforts are in place to protect the county-owned preserve, which features steep ravines and high waterfalls upstream from the work site.
“The Schenectady County Conservation District is meeting with LS Power this summer to improve the crossings, minimize erosion and make the trail easier to traverse where it intersects with the power lines,” she said. “The project includes a restoration phase, which we anticipate will begin in the fall with a completion date of spring 2022, where any additional issues will be addressed.”
Carroll said the second power line will be replaced after peak air conditioning season but before peak heating season, again to avoid limiting the supply of electricity as demand increases.
The work entails replacing 60-year-old wooden poles nearing the end of their lifespan with steel supports ranging from 100 to 120 feet tall. Because the steel is stronger, they can be placed twice as far apart and only half as many will be needed.
The wire itself will be replaced with a thicker steel-core aluminum wire that can carry four to six times more electricity.
The Marcy-New Scotland line brings electricity from central and northern New York to eastern New York. The portion passing through the Plotter Kill is actually a spur bringing electricity to the substation just east of Thruway Exit 26, where the voltage is stepped down for local use.