Improved Transmission Would Help Upstate Power Reach Downstate Markets

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
Last month, the NYS Public Service Commission took important action on upgrading the state’s electrical grid.

This is the first step in addressing New York’s outdated transmission infrastructure.

In doing so, the state can reduce its reliance on imported power, more readily and efficiently transmit electricity throughout the state, and better allow power generated Upstate to reach Downstate markets.

These types of grid improvements will provide long-term viability to Upstate generators, particularly our nuclear plants.

This process first began five years ago when Governor Cuomo formed a task force to examine the state’s energy infrastructure.

The Energy Highway Task Force found that New Yorkers would benefit from improvements made to the grid due to the age of the current power lines, which in many areas were nearly four decades old and are subject to “bottlenecks” and congestion points.

The task force then made recommendations which triggered action by the PSC to start a transmission proceeding.

After extensive analysis and evaluation by the state, and some opposition from Downstate communities, it appears that upgraded transmission is finally in sight.

The PSC affirmed that we need better transmission infrastructure.

With this approval, projects can be selected.

The upgrades will add 1,000 megawatts to the grid and will  be constructed throughout different areas of the state along existing right of ways, and include upgrades from Marcy, to New Scotland (which is just south of Schenectady).

Other improvements to the grid would be made in the Hudson Valley along existing right of ways.

These investments have the ability to increase output from Upstate’s nuclear plants, which provide 15% of the state’s electrical generation or roughly 26 million megawatt hours.

Often, the plants do not run at full capacity due to the bottlenecks and other constraints that prevent electricity generated at these plants from being distributed more effectively throughout the state.

Improving transmission will help Upstate generators transmit and supply the more than 150,000 gigawatt hours of electricity needed in New York each year and decrease reliance on imported power from nearby states that often is generated by the use of fossil fuels.

The timing of the transmission projects is also critical due the impending closure of Indian Point in Downstate New York.

Despite the fact that Indian Point is the major supplier of power to New York City and downstate customers, the nuclear power plant has long been under the scrutiny of many, including the Governor and the Attorney General.

With the closure of the plant, slated in 2021, the state will need to act expeditiously to replace that power.

The state should look once again to Upstate generators and our existing power producers to fill that gap rather than look to importing more power from nearby states or hydropower from Canada.

It is simply good policy to invest in our own generation and the jobs held by New Yorkers to deliver power Downstate.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected], or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You also can friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.