The developer of a controversial high-voltage power line that would bisect Central New York and the Southern Tier is touting a report released Tuesday that says it will take massive investments in transmission capacity to make renewable energy efforts viable nationwide.
The North American Electric Reliability Corp., a national grid watchdog based in Princeton, N.J., said electricity use is growing twice as fast as the resources used to generate and transmit it, and that power companies will need significantly more transmission capacity to ensure high levels of service reliability.
“Renewable energy initiatives can’t succeed unless new transmission infrastructure is also built,” Rick Sergel, the group’s president, said in the report. “You can’t have one without the other.”
Officials from New York Regional Interconnect, the company that has applied to the state Public Service Commission to build a high-voltage power line from Marcy to Orange County at a cost of $1.6 billion, say NERC’s report supports their belief that there is a relationship between the development of renewable sources and new transmission lines.
The NYRI project got a boost this month, when the federal Department of Energy designated two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, one in the mid-Atlantic region and the other in the Southwest, where developers can appeal state denials of power line projects to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The federal agency, then, could allow power projects to proceed if it felt the states were being unreasonable.
The state Public Service Commission is awaiting additional information from NYRI before its yearlong review of the developer’s application can begin.
In an interview with The Post-Standard earlier this year, NYRI project manager Bill May said the 190-mile line would ease the electricity bottleneck in New York City by allowing Downstate consumers take advantage of the renewable power available in Upstate communities.
“It’s really logical,” echoed David Kalson, speaking for NYRI on Wednesday. “Renewables are, generally speaking, in rural areas. The demand is in urban areas. There has to be a way to get those electrons to market.”
But local opponents of the project say the developer’s logic is faulty, including Paul Miller, Madison County assistant planning director, who oversees communications for Communities Against Regional Interconnect, the municipal coalition against the line.
Miller said NYRI’s direct current transmission would be incompatible with the rest of the electricity running through the state grid, and would need to be converted at pricey substations at either end of the trunk line.
“It would be a weak link,” he said. “The power lines that exist in New York state now carry power to a lot of places and accept power from a lot of places. Those are the backbones of the grid; those are the dependables.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By Alaina Potrikus
18 October 2007
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