Press-Republican

April 21, 2013

Underwater power line gets another approval

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — An underwater direct-current electric transmission line under Lake Champlain has moved one step closer to construction.

The Champlain-Hudson Power Express, a completely buried, 333-mile transmission line that will bring 1,000 megawatts of energy to the New York market, has received a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need from the New York State Public Service Commission.



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The certificate was granted after three years of state and public review as part of the commission’s Article VII permitting process and represents a major step forward for the $2 billion project, developed by Transmission Developers Inc.

The decision signifies its members believe there is need for a facility, the project is environmentally compatible and is in compliance with state law, a press release from the commission said.

“With this order, we grant the developer a certificate to construct and operate a transmission project known as the Champlain-Hudson Power Express Project,” Public Service Commission Chairman Garry Brown said in the release. “The certificate will adopt most of the terms and conditions presented to us in a joint proposal and in stipulations that have the full or partial support of a wide range of parties to this case.”

‘LESS POLLUTION’

Benefits cited in the commission’s decision include private financing of the line, which shields ratepayers from increased prices due to construction and operation costs. The commission also cited a reduction in air pollution as more power comes from hydropower and less from fuel-burning electricity production.

It would also help diversify power options for New York City and strengthen the security of the power transmission system if one part of it were to suffer a blackout. Transmission Developers’ agreement to fund a $117.5 million trust for the enhancement of aquatic habitats and fisheries resources in Lake Champlain and the Hudson, Harlem and East rivers and their tributaries also factored in the approval.

At a cost of about $2 billion, lines would be buried underwater starting in the Richelieu River in Quebec, then moving into Lake Champlain and the Hudson River and ending in New York City, with a portion buried along railroad and highway right-of-ways in the Hudson River Valley.

“It is gratifying to know that this project, having been studied thoroughly and openly, has received this important certificate from the state of New York,” Transmission Developers President and CEO Donald Jessome said in a press release. “We look forward to completing the permitting process so we can begin delivering clean, reliable, low-cost power to the residents and businesses of New York.”

COMMITTED SUPPORTER

With this milestone achieved, the permitting process remains on track with a goal of achieving all needed federal and state permits by the end of 2013. Project developers still need to obtain several federal permits, as well as secure private financing.

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said the chamber is a full and committed supporter of the Champlain-Hudson Power Express.

“It is a creative and effective approach to strengthening the vital energy connections between Canada, where ample power is available, and areas of New York in need of that power,” he said.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com