Monday, February 18, 2019

Developer Proposes Underwater HVDC Cable to New York City

By William Opalka

A merchant transmission developer asked FERC last week for authority to negotiate transmission contracts for a mostly underwater cable to transport 1,000 MW of electricity underneath 260 miles of the Erie Canal and Hudson River to New York City (ER16-1495).

Erie Canal (NY State Canal Commission) - underwater cable new york city

Erie Canal Source: New York State Canal Commission

Empire State Connector filed an application for transmission service on a HVDC line that would deliver renewable energy from upstate New York.

ESC is a joint venture of Toronto-based transmission developer oneGrid and investment firm Forum Equity Partners. The company says it is assuming the entire financial risk of the $1.5 billion project. It asked for FERC approval by June 26 to keep to its preferred permitting and open season schedule.

“Our strategic location and innovative, low-impact route will ‘unlock’ upstate renewable and ‎zero-emission generators, helping New York state achieve its ambitious goal of 50% renewable generation by 2030,” CEO John Douglas said in a statement.

The project would originate at a converter station located near Utica and terminate at a converter station located in either the Bronx or Brooklyn. Underground cables would be connected to a new converter station near the existing Marcy substation near Utica until it enters the canal. Cables would be buried under the locks and dams along the canal route.

The company said a NYISO feasibility study concluded the project is viable and it has secured a spot in the ISO’s interconnection queue.

ESC said it will file its Article VII application for major infrastructure review certification with the New York Public Service Commission by the end of the year. It will also conduct a solicitation later this year seeking subscribers for capacity on the line.

The project will create more than 500 construction jobs and 1,200 indirect jobs during the three-to-four-year construction period, the company said. Each converter station is estimated to cost more than $200 million. The target in-service date is for some time in 2021.

The NYPSC in December declared a public policy need for above-ground transmission to move upstate power from central New York to the New York City area through AC lines that are using existing corridors. (See NYPSC Directs NYISO to Seek Tx Bids.) Douglas told RTO Insider on Monday that he sees ESC and above-ground AC as “complementary.”

“New York state certainly has ambitious goals to develop renewable energy,” Douglas said. “It’s going to need a lot of new transmission, especially if it succeeds in closing Indian Point. So we see … room for both [projects] for both energy and capacity.”

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