- Transmission congestion in the western portion of New York is limiting the state's ability to access hydropower during summer peaks, state regulators said last week, a resource essential to meeting a 50% renewables target by 2030.
- The Public Service Commission has directed the New York ISO to select the most effective transmission project to deal with regional congestion, adding that certain local transmission upgrades should also be included in the overall solution.
- According to SNL Energy, during summer peak demand the state is only able to access about 125 MW of imports from Ontario, despite having the capability to import almost 1,900 MW.
Transmission congestion has been an issue in western New York for some time, but officials say issues have increased following recent power plant retirements.
“Inadequate transmission capability is causing transmission congestion in Western New York, which prevents renewable resources from being accessed across the State,” PSC Chair Chair Audrey Zibelman said in a statement. “With this decision, we will move forward with efficient, cost-effective transmission projects and upgrades that will un-bottle critically important energy resources.
According to SNL, the grid operator points to a constrained 230-kV Niagara-Gardenville line as the primary issue. The PSC's move is separate, it specified, from the ongoing alternating current transmission upgrade proceeding that aims to ease electricity flows from north to south.
And the commission added that the ISO process would not eliminate the need for transmission developers to receive PSC approval, and that the use of existing rights of way was strongly encouraged.
Previously, the ISO solicited projects to address western N.Y. transmission issues, and found 10 projects that were considered viable, addressing non-bulk issues. Three non-transmission projects were proposed, but none were found viable.
Last year, the PSC voted to move ahead with improvements proposed on more than 150 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, saying the state's system was no longer sufficient to move power from upstate generation.
The PSC's order follows warnings from the ISO that more transmission will be needed to move hydro-generated electricity and meet the state renewables mandate.
"I believe that Canadian hydro resources will be a significant part of our resource mix and a significant part of achieving the 50% by 2030 goal," NYISO CEO Brad Jones told Utility Dive this summer. "With those hydro resources, we are likely to have to build transmission to enable us to access that additional green resource.”