By William Opalka
ALBANY, N.Y. — A coalition of environmental groups and clean energy developers on Thursday called for upgrades in New York’s transmission system at the Alliance for Clean Energy New York’s 10th Annual Conference.
“Today’s unique circumstances dictate that the rapid construction of new high-voltage transmission infrastructure should be an important component of the state’s strategy to meet its clean energy goals,” said ACE NY, the Sierra Club, Pace Energy and Climate Center, Environmental Advocates of New York and the Natural Resources Defense Council in a statement released at the conference.
“When we’re looking at transmission projects for the future, we need to see them through the 50% renewables lens,” ACE NY Executive Director Anne Reynolds said, referring to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State Energy Plan, which requires the state to procure 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.
The joint statement was also filed with the New York Public Service Commission, which is overseeing two transmission initiatives under the public policy provisions of FERC Order 1000. (See NYPSC Directs NYISO to Seek Tx Bids, NYISO Identifies 10 Public Policy Tx Projects.)
The groups had a willing ally in NYISO CEO Brad Jones, who addressed the attendees at the morning session. He decried the 10- to 12-year process to get transmission built, advocating an expedited process of no more than six years.
“We need to develop our transmission system with an eye toward where renewables will be built,” Jones said. He said transmission developers need to build what he called a collector system, where renewables can be easily connected.
He said the ISO wants to lessen risks for energy developers who currently may seek less-than-optimal sites to access existing transmission; Jones had experience in Texas helping to develop collector systems in which networks of lower-capacity transmission lines would link several wind farms to a central point where they would connect to the main transmission corridors.
“My staff calls this our moon shot,” said Jones, who paraphrased President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 Rice University speech about landing a man on the moon: “We do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”
Reynolds said new lines should be built only if they help deploy wind and solar projects.
“With nearly 4,000 MW of new renewable energy projects proposed, real progress toward New York’s 50-by-30 goal is in sight,” Reynolds said in a statement. “New transmission capability is needed, but with upstate New York turning to a renewable energy future, the state should only be investing in those lines that are needed to deliver wind- and solar-generated power.”