- The New York State Public Service Commission on Thursday issued an order calling upon power companies to submit proposals for new transmission projects as the state pushes ahead with plans to generate 70% of its power from renewable sources by decade's end.
- The PSC is particularly interested in proposals from utilities in the Capital Region around Albany, as well as in the "southwest, and northern regions of the state" where new renewable energy projects are in the pipeline or coming online.
- In a related move, the PSC on Thursday also gave a green light to two major transmission projects. The commission approved the second phase of the $484 million Smart Path project in St. Lawrence County, totaling 86 miles, and Orange County's $100 million, 12-mile-long Rock Tavern to Sugarloaf transmission project.
New York State's power line push comes as the federal government focuses on boosting transmission capacity, both inside the country and with Canada, in order to connect with the growing solar, wind and energy storage projects needed to decarbonize the grid.
In June, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released an in-depth study detailing how closer cooperation – and more transmission lines – both inside the U.S. as well as across the border with Canada, could help cut emissions on the North American grid by nearly 80% by 2050.
The new transmission lines and corridors are considered key to channeling a steady rise in power coming from wind, solar and hydropower as well, the last of which is a major power producer in both the Canadian and New York markets.
In its order requesting transmission proposals, the PSC said it is looking for "cost effective" proposals for new transmission projects from the four Upstate utilities - NYSEG, RG&E, National Grid and Central Hudson.
The commission's call for new proposals comes with at least $2.5 billion in new transmission projects having recently won approval from the PSC or having started construction. The commission's approval of the $484 million Smart Path project and the $100 million Rock Tavern to Sugarloaf transmission project comes atop more than $2 billion worth of active projects, the commission said.
"The development of new transmission in New York State is key to our ability to get 70 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and zero greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector by 2040," said Commission Chair John Howard, in a press release.
In addition to calling for new transmission proposals, the PSC wants utilities in the state to revamp the planning process under which they pick and develop new transmission projects.
The PSC's order calls for utilities to "refine and resubmit the evaluation criteria" they use for picking new transmission projects and upgrades and to "provide more details" on cost recovery mechanisms.
New York State's power companies are now required to work with the Department of Public Service, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the "New York Independent System Operator to "develop new coordinated planning procedures" and "revise their study methodologies" for new transmission projects.
The commission also wants utilities to revamp how they calculate the ability of local and regional electric grids to handle increased power produced by renewable sources and to keep stakeholders apprised with "updated data."
The commission, in its order, contends the "state's bulk transmission, local transmission, and distribution planning processes need to be revised. Recommendations made by Staff and its consultant Brattle … identify several shortcomings in the Utilities' planning processes."