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PSC OK’s Power Line Project

by Stephen Kaye
Thu Dec 17th, 2015

Scenic Hudson put out a press release today announcing the decision of the Public Service Commission to go ahead with the power line project that had united opposition under the banner of Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition.   Scenic Hudson and other members of the coalition expressed disappointment.

It seems that a few power companies and their lobbyists carry more weight in Albany than the 18 towns and organizations that represent the Hudson Valley.

The coalition had made a strong case that imported energy was not needed in light of the trends towards greater efficiency such as low energy light bulbs and the trend toward more local generation through sun and wind.  The power lines are designed to bring energy generated by coal burning plants and wind turbines in the northern part of the state south to the urban areas of New York City.  The graphs all show that energy consumption is leveling off even as population increases. 

The State came up with the plan to move energy south some years ago before the trends became obvious. The PSC, as an agency of the state, is subject to the pressures of politics. 

Here is what the Commission said in its release: 

“Today’s action limited the new transmission lines to replacement and upgrading of existing lines within existing rights-of-way, and adding new substation facilities at several locations, which will reduce or eliminate adverse environmental, landowner, and economic impacts. The proposed project provides $1.20 in benefits for every dollar that it costs.

“Much like a traffic jam on a crowded highway, our existing system of antiquated transmission lines are simply too congested to allow electricity being produced upstate to move to where demand is greatest,” said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman. “Improving the transmission system will reduce this problem, resulting in lower electricity costs for the average customer, while helping to reduce emissions and improve the environment.”

“The state-of-the-art improvements proposed for 156 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, representing the backbone of the State’s electric transmission system running west to east and north to south, will provide numerous benefits including reducing grid congestion and allowing lower-cost electricity and renewable electricity being produced in upstate New York to flow to millions of downstate customers.

…. “Using existing rights-of-way, the transmission upgrade will have two primary segments [see map]:  the first segment runs approximately 91 miles starting in Oneida County, through Herkimer, Montgomery and Schenectady counties, and ending in Albany County; the second segment runs 51

miles starting in Rensselaer County, through Columbia County and ending in Dutchess County. A related upgraded line runs 11 miles in Orange County. Any successful vendor will need to obtain final siting permits from the PSC.

…. “Rensselaer County to Dutchess County (54 miles): Construction of a new double circuit 345 kV/115 kV line from Knickerbocker to Churchtown on existing Greenbush to Pleasant Valley rights-of-way; construction of a new double circuit 345 kV/115 kV line or triple circuit 345 kV/115 kV/115 kV line from Churchtown to Pleasant Valley on existing Greenbush to Pleasant

Valley right-of-way; decommissioning of a double-circuit 115 kV line from Knickerbocker to Churchtown; decommissioning of one or two double-circuit 115 kV lines from Knickerbocker to Pleasant Valley; related switching or substation work at Greenbush, Knickerbocker, Churchtown and Pleasant Valley.

The release can be found here