Capital Region

Energy secretary to visit area sites boosting zero-emissions goal

An early rendering of the wind turbine tower plant proposed in the south end of the Port of Albany.

An early rendering of the wind turbine tower plant proposed in the south end of the Port of Albany.

ALBANY — U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on Friday will visit Capital Region sites that factor into state and federal initiatives to modernize and decarbonize the nation’s electrical infrastructure.

The stops include the Port of Albany, where a factory will be built to fabricate towers for wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean; Hudson Valley Community College, where the Center for Advanced Manufacturing Skills trains future workers for existing and future jobs; the N.Y. Independent System Operator, which runs the power grid statewide; and GE Research in Niskayuna, where General Electric scientists work on public- and private-sector projects to develop new technologies.

Granholm will be joined on the tour by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, whose district includes the three stops. 

GE Research has projects in a wide range of disciplines underway at any given time, but Friday’s visit will focus on three that all involve reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: carbon-capture technology, hybrid-electric flight and superconducting generators for offshore wind farms.

The Biden-Harris administration is pressing to accelerate the rollout of energy sources that are both clean and affordable in an effort to increase employment and fight climate change. 

A White House fact sheet issued Wednesday included mention of the offshore wind tower manufacturing project in the Port of Albany, which with the help of $29.5 million in federal funding will create the first such fabrication facility in the nation and employ hundreds.

Also Wednesday, N.Y. Gov. Kathy Hochul, N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the largest ever wind-energy lease auction would be held Feb. 23 for a half-million acres in the New York Bight — the area off the long arc of the New Jersey and Long Island shorelines.

The six leases are believed to hold a potential of 5.6 to 7 gigawatts of power generation.

Concurrent to all this, there would need to be a massive upgrade and expansion of the electric power transmission grid. The U.S. Department of Energy addressed that Wednesday, as well, launching the Building a Better Grid initiative.

This will be among the topics addressed during Friday’s stop at the Port of Albany, where wind towers will be fabricated at a rate of 150 a year and floated down the Hudson River via barge for placement in the Atlantic Ocean.

Tonko, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee for Environment and Climate Change, said in a news release:

“Transmission infrastructure is the backbone of a reliable, resilient, and clean electricity system. Significant transmission investments are needed to achieve our ambitious clean energy goals.”

The investments face numerous hurdles but the Building a Better Grid initiative will overcome those obstacles, he added.

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