The Public Service Commission voted to move forward last week on a major piece of Governor Cuomo’s proposed energy highway.
The plan, which totals over $1 billion, will install new transmission lines throughout the Hudson Valley region. According to the Cuomo administration, the new lines will help to alleviate energy bottlenecks near New York City by transporting power from upstate.
They would also offset the losses incurred by closing some of the older power plants in New York. If Indian Point were to be closed, for example, the transmission lines would allow clean energy in upstate New York — wind, solar, and hydro-electric — to easily flow to downstate areas where there is the highest demand and the highest prices. This would make additional investments in large scale renewable projects upstate increasingly economically viable.
The new lines stand to transport more than 1,300 megawatts of power, enough to provide for 800,000 homes. They will also significantly reduce carbon emissions, perhaps as much as four million tons annually – roughly the same as the entire output of Washington, D.C. The New York State Independent System’s Operator and major utilities, have all backed the plan.
Not everyone, however, has thrown their weight behind it. Local organization Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition has come out in protest of the plan, arguing that it will damage the rural character of the area. The new lines would stand at 120 feet high and run through a number of woodlands and farming hamlets. Some farmers have expressed concern that they could interfere with tourism and housing values.
The state has identified three finalist proposals to build the lines and they are expected to be constructed beginning in 2017, coming online in 2019.