By Rod Lenfest, President, Boundless Energy NE
The acronyms are almost daunting - REV, CARIS, NYISO, NYSERDA, NCZ, PSC, FERC, RNA, DNR - Whew! And that’s just the beginning! Once you get through the titles, you really need to dig into what each of these entities is trying to accomplish if you want to begin to have an understanding of the lay-of-the-land of the energy landscape in New York State. And that’s not to mention the many, sincere interveners who have more than a minor interest in what finally happens. In most cases, these are the folks who will be living with the results of the current project planning for many decades after the decisions are finally made – often looking at those results from outside their own front and back windows.
In some areas there is not much clarity:
We either need massive amounts of new power transmission capability into the Southeast New York (SENY) area – or we do not.
The Renewing the Energy Vision (REV) effort will succeed in expanding, distributing and balancing energy generation, consumption and storage in the relative short-term – or it will not.
The major load pockets of NYC and Long Island will either see massive power savings through implementation of new technology – or they will see major increases in urban population leading to ever increasing demand for power.
Natural Gas Prices will either remain at historically low levels for the foreseeable future – or they will continue to be as volatile as they have been historically.
Wind, Solar and other Renewables Resources will occur Upstate or Off-shore – or not at all.
Climate change will make things warmer – or maybe just more extreme: with hotter hot days and much colder, more extended deep freeze days.
Energy planning in New York is nothing less than an alphabet soup of organizations, departments and people, working under a variety of different marching orders, each with its own somewhat foggy vision, and all performing with your best interest at heart. Or, at least so they’ll tell you.
Add to them a plethora of well-intended, but often misguided folks, some with wonderful sounding advanced degrees, who are fully sure they know what the future holds and are more than willing to tell you precisely what initiatives you should support or reject in order to comply with their vision of the future.
Let’s take a look at what we know for sure:
New York has an aging electrical transmission infrastructure with poles, lines and other elements that need substantial upgrading. This situation is well documented in the “New York Energy Highway” report. 1
There is electrical “congestion,” as is evidenced by the nodal price differentials among the various Zones in New York State 2 . It was this congestion which prompted the NYISO to request, and subsequently have granted by the FERC, a New Capacity Zone (NCZ), much to the consternation of the ratepayers in the Lower Hudson Valley.
Many of the major transmission corridors bringing power to the SENY area do not meet currently recommended icing standards, and as a result, leave much of the Southern Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island in jeopardy of major outages should a major icing event occur.
New transmission technologies that can vastly improve system resilience to icing events, and at the same time add substantially to the overall transmission capacity of by companies such as CTC Global and 3M Corporation have been all but ignored by New York’s incumbent transmission utilities.
There appears to be broad concurrence with Governor Cuomo’s call in his 2014 State of the State address for projects that fall within existing “envelopes.” That is, within existing rights of way, and without broadening or increasing the heights of those existing ROWs. This concept should be further strengthened to assure than we don’t defile the beauty of our existing highway system, where no transmission lines are now present by forcing them in there unnecessarily; and, by including the concept that increased tower density along existing utility rights of way should be equally abhorrent.
Although there is ample evidence that additional power transmission across UPNY-SENY 3 is required, there is no similar consensus that a major new electrical transmission facility is required.
While the need to supply the SENY area with massive amounts of additional power in the future may yet to be proven (as evidenced by the scheduled June hearing on “need”), and a need for “Monster Power Lines” similarly has yet to be established, the need to update an aging power transmission infrastructure, bring the key transmission lines on east side of the Hudson up to current icing standards, eliminate the NCZ, and provide moderate amounts of additional power transmission UPNY-SENY is unchallenged.
Given all of the above, several proponents in the AC Transmission Upgrade proceeding are championing large and meaningfully disruptive projects.
Boundless believes that the circumstances outlined above do not require a “Mega Sized” project. A “Right Sized” rather than a “Mega Sized” project can address all those needs and more. Boundless Energy NE’s Right Sized “Leeds Path West” project addresses the aging infrastructure, improves the energy throughput by more than 1,200MW under normal circumstances, eliminates the need for the New Capacity Zone, lives wholly within the existing ROW envelopes, disturbs no viewscapes 4, and takes no additional rights-of-way, whatsoever. . It also provides for accommodating deeper penetration of renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, as well as provides a more stable and secure backbone to allow wider deployment of “distributed” energy resources such as micro grids, on-site power supplies, and storage.
We hope you will choose to learn more about the multiple benefits that Leeds Path West provides. We also hope that as you do so, you will make your feelings known to your local concerned citizens, your local and state politicians and the media at large.
Hyperlinks to Additional Resources
3 UPNY-SENY is shorthand for power flowing from Upstate New York to into South East New York
4 A “viewscape” is all of the land and water seen from a given pointof reference.
Posted on Tue, April 7, 2015
by Rod Lenfest, President, Boundless Energy NE