New York state has approved a large-scale energy project that will run partially through Columbia County.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday the state Public Service Commission gave the green light to the New York Energy Solution electric transmission upgrade project.
When completed, the 54.5-mile project is designed to alleviate electricity bottlenecking and allow for greater use of clean energy produced upstate.
The project upgrade will remove and replace existing 80-year-old electricity transmission structures with fewer, more modern towers, according to the project website. It will also rebuild an existing switching station in Claverack, build a new 55-mile overhead line from Schodack to Pleasant Valley, construct a new switching station in Schodack and a new capacitor bank station in Pleasant Valley.
“New York is leading the nation in developing a green economy with key investments to enhance the reliability and resiliency of the state’s energy infrastructure,” Cuomo said. “These projects are essential to helping create our new green-energy superhighway that will move electricity to high demand areas efficiently while also reducing costs and helping to create new jobs.”
The project will be constructed on existing transmission corridors or on adjacent utility-owned land in the towns of Stuyvesant, Stockport, Ghent, Claverack, Livingston, Gallatin and Clermont in Columbia County. The project will run through Schodack in Rensselaer County and Milan, Clinton and Pleasant Valley in Dutchess County.
New York Energy Solution is being constructed by New York Transco, an owner and developer of energy transmission facilities in New York state, according to the company’s website. The company is owned by the unregulated affiliates of National Grid, Con Edison, AVANGRID and CH Energy Group.
Construction is expected to begin in March and be completed by the end of 2023, according to the New York Transco website.
“They are basically taking the transmission line, which is in their right-of-way, and they are taking the old lattice towers down,” Claverack Town Supervisor Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt said Friday. “And they are going to put up new steel towers and they are going to be redoing our substation, which is over by the town garage.”
The state and project coordinators are going to confer with local farmers who work on land between the existing structures, Weigelt said.
“They are working together to make sure nothing is interrupted for the farmers,” Weigelt said. “[It] is very nice of them to work with them.”
The project will cover about 7.3 miles in Claverack, 8 miles in Stuyvesant, 4.5 miles in Stockport, 0.8 miles in Ghent, 0.7 miles in Clermont, 1.2 miles in Gallatin and 8.3 miles in Livingston, according to the New York Transco website.
“This is a project that’s been going on for quite a while,” said Stuyvesant Town Supervisor Ronald Knott. “It happens to be that Niagara Mohawk or National Grid, they own a pretty major corridor that actually divides most of the town of Stuyvesant north to south. It’s been there for years and years. It has high tension lines on it and their plan is to replace it with a more modern set of power lines. They’ll have higher voltage and be a little taller.”
The project has been in discussion for several years, Knott said. He does not expect Stuyvesant to be affected in any way other than the construction.
“There may be an increase in real-estate values, which should reflect higher property taxes to Stuyvesant and to Columbia County,” Knott said. “But those rates are set by the state so it’s kind of hard to figure out and when those might be available. We don’t know.”
Gallatin Town Supervisor John Reilly said there have been meetings, presentations, videos and thousands of pages of documents given to the town about the upgrade over the past several years.
“For Gallatin, which it barely touches, the good news is we’re going from a two-tower structure to a one-tower structure,” Reilly said. “It will allow the easement to reduce, and for the owners and farmers to use more of the land near the tower. For Gallatin, it’s a net positive.”
The cost to upgrade and maintain the lines will be spread among ratepayers based on Federal Regulatory Commission zones in the state. New York Transco estimates an average residential customer who uses 500 kWh of electricity a month would pay an additional $1 to $9 per year, depending on their geographic location, according to the company website.
In the 11 host communities, the company estimates the annual increase would range from $1 to $2.75 on an average residential bill.
“New York Transco is grateful for the thorough review provided by the Public Service Commission, Department of Public Service and other state agencies, as well as the engagement of the host communities, businesses and residents,” New York Transco President Victor Mullin said in a statement. “We stand ready to begin construction and advance New York’s renewable energy future.”