DUANESBURG -- A $750 million power line upgrade being reviewed by the state Public Service Commission will address a known "bottleneck" that is limiting the electric power supply coming into the Capital Region, a project representative said Thursday.
The proposed 93-mile Marcy-to-New Scotland line upgrade would replace aging 230-kilovolt transmission lines with new 345-kv lines that would bring more power into the region from hydro-electric sources north and west of Utica. It would also create capacity for more solar and wind projects, said Casey Carroll of LS Power Grid New York.
"It's feeding the Capital Region. Right now there's really a bottleneck. This eliminates that bottleneck and looks to the future, to let more wind and solar to join the grid," said Carroll, assistant vice-president of LS Power Grid and the project manager.
Carroll was interviewed at Duanesburg Town Hall, where an informational meeting and a PSC public hearing was held as part of PSC review of the application. The PSC held hearings in the western Mohawk Valley earlier this week, and a hearing Wednesday in Fonda. The hearings Thursday in Duanesburg and Guilderland are the last in the current series, but public comment will be taken through April 3.
About 20 people attended the afternoon hearing, most of them people who live or own land close the existing power lines. Only one person made a formal comment to the judge, speaking about electro-magnetic field radiation as a possible cause for cancers. The applicants they their project will meet all state standards to minimize electro-magnetic fields.
The PSC is reviewing the project for a certificate of need and environmental compatibility under Article VII of Public Service Law, which governs major transmission lines. To date, the towns of Rotterdam, Florida and Canajoharie have applied to become intervening parties in the application, which will give them some say during the PSC review.
LS Power Grid New York LLC is partnering with the New York Power Authority to develop new 345-kilovolt power transmission lines within an existing utility-owned 230-kv transmission corridor running through the Mohawk Valley, including the length of Montgomery County and through parts of Duanesburg, Rotterdam and Princetown in Schenectady County. A new substation is to be constructed in Princetown, and the existing Rotterdam substation will be replaced.
David Knutti of Princetown, who attended the meeting but did not speak at the hearing, said the existing lines run across his family's Pangburn Road hay farm, but he has no major issues and overall believes the project will be good for the region.
LS Power Grid New York was selected last year by the New York Independent System Operator as the private developer to partner with the state Power Authority on the project. Earlier NYISO studies had identified the bottleneck as the worst in the state power grid, causing higher electric prices in the Capital Region because of how the electricity market operators, as well as contributing to power reliability issues.
NYISO has identified the Capital Region as an area where electricity demand has grown and is expected to keep growing. The GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Saratoga County, by itself, has created major new demand for electricity, consuming as much power as a small- to medium-sized city.
The power corridor passes through the towns of Minden, Canajoharie, Root, Charleston, Glen, and Florida in Montgomery County; the towns of Duanesburg, Princetown, and Rotterdam in Schenectady County; and the towns of Guilderland and New Scotland in Albany County. About 1,250 existing transmission poles will be removed and replaced by about 600 steel monopoles.
"These poles were put in in the 1960s. These poles are wood. They don't last forever," Carroll said.
Carroll said the applicants hope to complete the permit process later this year, so construction could start late this year or in early 2021. Construction will start at the Rotterdam end of the line, and work westward. Plans call for the new lines to be in operation in 2023.
The applicants have a second PSC permit application, seeking permission to build, own and operate the line, and seeking relief from some regulations because their project won't retail electricity. A public hearing on that application will be held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at the Montgomery County office annex in Fonda.
State officials said the line upgrade is part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plans to upgrade and increase the efficiency of the state's power grid, with $6.8 billion to be invested by 2025.
The application may be viewed at www.dps.ny.gov or at public libraries in Holland Patent, Utica Frankfort, Ilion, Mohawk, Jordanville, Little Falls, Amsterdam, Canajoharie, Fonda, Fort Plain, Schenectady, Delmar, Guilderland, Altamont, and Voorheesville.