Upgraded Transmission Lines Needed

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
A 2012 report created by the Energy Highway Task Force, a task force led by key representatives from the fields of energy, environmental conservation and economic development, cited the critical need for improving transmission lines across the state.

Their arguments for upgrading transmission lines are on point. New York’s current energy infrastructure includes approximately 10,900 miles of transmission lines.

Many of these lines are aging.

Upgrading the lines to meet the needs of the 21st Century is important to making our state more economically competitive.

The report called on the New York State Public Service Commission to institute a proceeding to look at solutions to address transmission congestion.  This included, among other things, upgrading transmission lines downstate.

Unfortunately, these proceedings have stalled due to politics.

I urge the Public Service Commission to restart the review process and move forward with a plan to improve the transmission lines.

Why should upstate New York be concerned with downstate energy needs?

I would argue for many reasons.

First, Central New York, particularly Oswego County, is in a position to supply the additional energy to downstate residents if these lines are improved.

Currently, the outdated lines have created bottlenecks at certain substations.

Our nuclear power plants are not operating at full generating capacity because of these barriers.

Improving the lines would help to ensure the future of nuclear energy in our region and secure high-paying jobs.

Oswego’s three nuclear power plants employ more than a thousand workers, have a tremendous positive impact on our local property tax base, are good community stewards and continue to be a good source of clean, reliable energy for our area.

Further, because we have abundant local electrical generation here in New York State, it makes little sense for New York to import power from out-of-state.

We need to protect our NYS jobs and safeguard these plants.

Replacing the aging infrastructure is important to our security.

The longer we delay in upgrading the lines, the greater the risk the infrastructure will experience failures and widespread outages.

Today’s world depends heavily on our electric infrastructure to be reliable 24/7.

Think of what would have happened if transmission lines failed during last year’s polar vortex – it would have been catastrophic.

Similarly, New York could experience further outages like the blackout of 2003 in New York City.

A combination of aging infrastructure and human error led to the two-day outage that left people trapped in elevators and in subways.

Lastly, if we are going to become competitive with other states, we need to reduce the cost of doing business.

Energy costs play a big factor in this equation.

Upgrading transmission lines will help lower the price of energy, safeguard upstate energy generators and will spur future economic development across the state.

Locally, it will protect our plants and the many jobs that they provide.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

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.