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New York Energy Solution clean energy transmission project launching in Schodack

New monopoles have been erected along the 55-mile corridor, engineered to provide greater electricity transmission reliability and resiliency.
New York
New monopoles have been erected along the 55-mile corridor, engineered to provide greater electricity transmission reliability and resiliency.

A 55-mile power corridor project dubbed "The New York Energy Solution" through Rensselaer, Columbia and Dutchess Counties is increasing the amount of electricity flowing downstate.

Project developer Transco spokesperson Shannon Baxevanis says the project clears congestion, boosting the amount of clean energy entering the electric grid.

"The New York Energy Solution project was selected through a competitive process back in April of 2019 by the New York Independent System Operator, as the more efficient or cost effective project to relieve congestion on a key interface on the New York Power Grid," said Baxevanis, who pointed out that the new infrastructure will last for generations and help the Empire State reach its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030.

Transco President Vic Mullin announced the successful completion of the new transmission line installation through the revitalized corridor this week during a ribbon cutting ceremony in Schodack Landing.

"It is the key to the reliability and resiliency of the electric grid, helping to meet our increased need for electricity, while also charting the path for decarbonization to address climate change," Mullin said. "Earlier this summer, just two years after starting construction, and six months ahead of schedule. New York Transco helped New York State move one step closer to meeting its nation leading clean energy goals by energizing the NYS project. And we did so with over 1.2 million consecutive safe work hours."

Mullin says the corridor dates back to the Great Depression.

"We replaced 90-year-old lattice structures with 230 fewer new monopoles engineered to provide greater reliability and resiliency," said Mullin. "The new monopoles that you see behind us hold a 345 kV transmission line and 115 kV line that connects into stations along the corridor, two new, one rebuilt and one upgraded. These assets working together will help alleviate historic transmission bottlenecks and provide the capacity that is needed to carry the increasing amounts of clean renewable energy from where it is generated to the homes and businesses that need it across the region and beyond."

Dutchess County’s Pleasant Valley is home to one of the new stations. Town Supervisor John DelVecchio says it's actually the second installation there.

"They stomped through our town pretty good, getting it done. Quite frankly, this deal was all in place long before I got to this position. And if I was a supervisor at the time, other than everything in my power to stop, or try to get things a little more under control than what had happened to us, we still had a lot of security concerns. Are we a target for anything? Seeing that all the power sits right here in Pleasant Valley," DelVecchio said, "There's so many things that haven't been addressed, we have people's homes that have been totally uprooted in a way where they are, their landscape is totally gone. And they have to look at these horrible, ugly things. They kind of basically said, they look better than the old ones. But they are definitely higher, bigger and more intrusive. If you ask the people of Pleasant Valley, and I know I can honestly speak for the board, and for the people who have come out many, many times in opposition of it."

DelVecchio thinks the facilities are an eyesore.

"They sit at the entrance of the town. It looks like it looks like South Detroit, where when you first pull into our town, they've done nothing in the way of hiding any of the ugliness of it. And we don't get a break. It's not like we get an electric break or anything, their taxes are raised only marginal amount even though their footprint has increased dramatically. So there's really has not been any particular benefit to Pleasant Valley,” DelVecchio said.

Baxevanis says with minimal increase on consumers' utility bills, the project in total will help increase the reliability and resiliency of the electric grid, and thereby improve overall service on the system, a good thing to keep in mind as electric cars become more mainstream.

"And in New York, much of the transmission grid had not been upgraded since the 1980s. So we're now seeing a resurgence and really a huge investment in upgrading the grid for our future needs as well as to address our climate change issues," said Baxevanis.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.