PLATTSBURGH — There was little public comment locally on the U.S. Department of Energy’s draft environmental impact statement for the Champlain Hudson Power Express project.
The applicant, Transmission Developers Inc., wants to build a $2.2 billion, 333-mile-long, high-voltage, direct-current transmission line to be buried underwater and in railroad and highway right-of-ways between the Canadian border and New York City.
It would carry up to 1,000 megawatts of hydro- and wind-power sources in Canada to the greater New York City area.
Speaking during the recent hearing at West Side Ballroom, William Wellman, Council Region 5 vice president for the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited, said the environmental impact statement, in large part, mirrors the findings of the New York State Public Service Commission’s Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need, which was granted in April.
“That was a very comprehensive and detailed review,” he said, noting it included a $117 million environmental trust fund to protect, restore and improve the aquatic habitat and fisheries along the route.
Jeffrey Kellogg, business representative for District 106 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, said the project is expected to provide employment for many of their workforce.
“I want to go on record stating we fully endorse this project,” he said.
Kellogg later said they have been told there would be about 110 jobs for operating engineers, mainly its members who operate heavy equipment.
John Donoghue Jr., business manager for Local 186 of the Laborer’s International Union of North America, said he and his members are also looking forward to the jobs created by the project, the savings to New York residents and the environmental protections.
Local 186 covers Clinton, Essex and Hamilton counties, where most of the workers will be involved in getting the cable from land onto the barges for installation.
Transmission Developers President and CEO Donald Jessome said he was pleased with the support voiced at the meeting.
“We think their draft environmental impact statement is very comprehensive,” he said of the 638-page document, which also includes 860 pages of appendices.
Julie Smith of the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability said the impact statement is part of the process to issue a presidential permit required for a transmission facility that crosses the U.S. border.
Agencies cooperating with the Department of Energy on the impact statement include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Coast Guard, New York State Department of Public Service and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The deadline to submit public comments is Dec. 16. All comments will be addressed in the final impact statement, Smith said.
Once a final environmental impact statement is filed and all interested parties have been notified, the Department of Energy can issue its final decision on the presidential permit.
Jessome said they are looking forward to a positive outcome on that permit and hope to close on financing and start construction next year.
The project still requires a final review by the New York Independent System Operators on the inter-connection process from start to finish, such as the equipment needed to connect to the ConEdison facility in Queens.
Transmission Developers is finalizing contracts for construction of a converter station in Queens, cable manufacture and an agreement with HydroQuebec on the power supply.
The first year of construction is expected to mainly involve manufacture of the cables and approval of a final Environmental Management and Construction Plan by the New York Public Service Commission.
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READ THE STATEMENT
The draft environmental impact statement is available on the Department of Energy website www.energy.gov by searching for Champlain Hudson Power Express.