ROTTERDAM — There was dead silence. Then a deep hum rang out off a panoramic Schenectady County hilltop two weeks ago.
That’s what happened when the new $85 million Gordon Road substation became fully operational — a milestone moment deemed the halfway point in the development of a major energy transmission network expected to run from the Utica to Albany area, officials involved in the project reported earlier this week.
The Central East Energy Connect transmission project is one of several public-private developments slated to decongest and link renewable energy transmissions — hydroelectric, nuclear and wind sources — across New York. All upgraded lines are expected to cover 1,000 miles of ground by decade’s end.
Officials involved with the project celebrated the halfway mark on Thursday.
“From project inception, we’ve thought about this as really the turning point and important for the overall project,” said Casey Carroll, assistant vice president at LS Power Grid New York. “Now that it’s complete and energized, the project’s able to keep the grade running reliably in the area without nearly as many standalone constraints.”
The has been a year-plus-long undertaking involving the New York Power Authority, New York Independent System Operator, and LS Power Grid New York, and for Rotterdam specifically, Siemens Energy. About half of the project’s total $615 million budget has been spent so far.
“It takes a lot of work to keep this project going and deliver on time and on budget,” NYPA Interim President and CEO Justin Driscoll said.
The Gordon Road site is expected to be the 93-mile project’s largest facility development. The 1.4 acre-facility is gas-insulated, and uses nearly six times less space than an air-insulated facility. It’s also weatherized to withstand wind conditions of more than 100 miles per hour and more than an inch of ice.
Much of the remaining project is geared toward replacing transmission wooden poles, some of are more than 60 years old. More than 270 new steel poles have been installed so far and 1,000 more are anticipated.
Using thicker wire, the new poles can carry 115,000 more volts than previous infrastructure, upping energy capacity 500%.
This is the first major transmissions project of its kind in 40 years. It’s ultimately expected to clear the area’s longtime Mohawk Valley bottleneck.
“There’s not that much infrastructure along the route,” Carroll said. “And so that’s, that’s really what this project is designed to do.”
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]
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