State regulators on Thursday approved major upgrades to 156 miles of high-voltage transmission lines running from Utica to New York City via the Capital Region, part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway program.
The state Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities in the state, approved the projects. The work must still be competitively bid to developers through a process that will be overseen by the New York Independent System Operator in North Greenbush.
The upgrades will take place within existing utility rights of way and will help bring 1,000 megawatts of electricity from upstate power plants and renewable energy projects such as wind farms to the population center in New York City.
Bottlenecks in the system have curtailed how much electricity can be sent downstate. The new lines, plus new substations that will be build or rebuilt along the way, will add more capacity to the system.
“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 PSC 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.”
Although the PSC has not put a price tag on the project, the added capacity is expected to reduce electricity costs for consumers. The PSC says that for every $1 spent on the project, consumers will realize $1.20 in savings and economic benefits.
The Business Council of New York State applauded the PSC vote.
“These infrastructure investments have the potential to inject $1.6 billion into the upstate economy and create thousands of jobs,” said Business Council CEO Heather Briccetti. “Furthermore, these upgrades will allow current and future carbon neutral resources like nuclear and wind to connect to where the power is truly needed.”
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