Two state Public Service Commission hearing officers are recommending approval of plans for a 1,000-megawatt buried power line between Canada and New York City.
The proposed $2.2 billion Champlain-Hudson Power Express would run a direct-current transmission line along railroad rights-of-way through the Capital Region. The line would also be buried under the bed of Lake Champlain and in the Hudson River south of Albany.
On Thursday, PSC administrative law judges Michelle L. Phillips and Kevin J. Casutto recommended the 333-mile power line be issued a required Article VII permit. In a 150-page decision, they concluded the project will increase the reliability of the state’s power grid, lower consumer costs and help achieve public policy goals, such as reducing carbon emissions.
The judges have been holding hearings, reviewing comments and otherwise considering the project for more than two years. Their recommendation goes to the Public Service Commission board, which will make a decision after another round of public comment between now and Feb. 1.
The judges recommended approving most of the terms in a joint proposal submitted by the developer, New York City officials, state agencies and some environmental groups. They recommended the PSC issue the required certificates of environmental compatibility and public need, as well as a water quality certificate.
“Overall we are very pleased with the recommended decision, as it provides a strong foundation to move the project forward,” said Donald Jessome, president and CEO of Transmission Developers Inc., of Albany, which has proposed the project.
“The Champlain Hudson Power Express is an extremely positive project for the state of New York, and we are pleased to see the permitting process moving forward,” he said.
The project has faced criticism, however, from the Independent Power Producers of New York, an industry group. Central Hudson Gas and Electric, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter and Entergy Nuclear, which owns the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County, have also criticized the plan to import power from Quebec.
The project will bring power produced at hydroelectric dams or other renewable energy sources into the state, primarily for use in the New York City area. The 1,000 megawatts is enough to power 1 million homes.
Project backers include U.S. Reps. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam. The Adirondack Park Agency, Department of Environmental Conservation and other state agencies have endorsed it, as well.
The power line, first proposed in 2009, also remains under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Backers hope construction will start in 2014 and the line will be up and operating by 2018.