In order to alleviate the bottlenecks, Cuomo proposed building a so-called "energy highway," which is really a plan that incorporates not only transmission line upgrades but also new power plants and new natural gas lines to supply them with fuel. Upgrading the transmission system also would allow the state to take more advantage of wind power projects, most of which have been built upstate on the opposite end of the transmission bottlenecks from the large users downstate.
ALBANY – The state’s utilities have swiftly gotten behind the Cuomo administration’s call to upgrade the state’s aging and inadequate high-voltage electric transmission system.
Last month, the New York Power Authority decided to accelerate spending on upgrades to its own transmission system over the next five years by $300 million, an amount that was targeted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway Task Force. The governor created the task force last year to prod the private sector and government agencies such as NYPA to improve the transmission system.
National Grid also is increasing its spending on rebuilding its transmission system. Over the next five years, the company plans to increase its annual spending on transmission and subtransmission capital projects from $178 million this year to $233 million by 2017 – an increase of 30 percent over that span.
National Grid revealed the numbers recently as part of a rate case currently before the Public Service Commission. If approved, the rate plan will result in lower electric bills for customers starting in April. National Grid drafted an agreement on the rate plan with state regulators, consumer and business groups a few months ago.
Although New York state has more than enough power plants to supply the needs of homes and businesses, the state’s electric rates are not as cheap as they could be because an inadequate transmission system had trouble getting power to places like New York City that put the greatest demand on the grid. The “bottlenecks” that exist in the system where the high-voltage power lines cannot carry as much current as is needed drive up prices downstate.
The state is also racing to upgrade the system in case the governor is successful in shutting down the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, which supplies a large chunk of the power that New York City uses.
In order to alleviate the bottlenecks, Cuomo proposed building a so-called “energy highway,” which is really a plan that incorporates not only transmission line upgrades but also new power plants and new natural gas lines to supply them with fuel. Upgrading the transmission system also would allow the state to take more advantage of wind power projects, most of which have been built upstate on the opposite end of the transmission bottlenecks from the large users downstate.
Cuomo’s political clout has been so strong that almost everyone in the utility sector is working to make contributions to the $5.7 billion “energy highway” plan since it was finalized back in October in a document called the Energy Highway Blueprint.
For instance, even though National Grid’s new rate plan was conceptualized before the Energy Highway Task Force released its report, National Grid has taken pains to show that it helps advance Cuomo’s vision. In a filing with the PSC made the Friday before Christmas, National Grid noted that its new electric rate plan is “generally consistent” with the Energy Highway Blueprint and that “several aspects” of the rate plan “directly support” the blueprint’s “areas of focus.”
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