Time for an upgrade

The state Public Service Commission recently announced that it had approved the first phase of the $483.8 million Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability Project, the rebuilding of an 86-mile stretch of New York Power Authority transmission lines. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — A major upgrade to the north country’s power infrastructure that will bring hundreds of jobs to the region has been approved.

The state Public Service Commission announced Thursday that it had approved the first phase of the $483.8 million Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability Project, the rebuilding of an 86-mile stretch of New York Power Authority transmission lines.

The Moses-Adirondack line starts in Massena and carries electricity from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project to the Adirondack Substation in Croghan, connecting energy into the statewide power system from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project, as well as power from newly constructed renewable energy sources.

The project, which includes upgrading the Power Authority’s Moses switchyard in Massena and the Adirondack substation in Croghan, is designed to provide a more robust, resilient and reliable electric system in upstate New York. The north-south transmission line includes 78 miles constructed by the federal government in 1942 and acquired by the Power Authority in 1950.

The Power Authority announced last week that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had approved $341 million in funding for the project. The Power Authority’s Board of Trustees had authorized the $341 million in funding during its December meeting.

The $341 million will support construction of new lines primarily on existing rights of way, except for a small re-route around SUNY Canton, to minimize the impact on the environment and to adjacent property and landowners.

During a meeting last week, NYPA trustees also approved a five-year, $294 million construction contract with Michels Power to construct the new transmission lines. Trustees had previously approved $142.6 million for phase one of the project.

Construction is expected to begin this year with phase one completed in 2023. NYPA officials say the project is expected to support hundreds of jobs during its construction.

Phase one that was approved by the Public Service Commission on Thursday replaces 78 miles of the two lines currently configured as single circuits on separate wooden H-frame structures with two new single-circuit lines on steel monopoles. The single steel poles require significantly less space than the H poles, extend the distance between poles and minimize the use of space on the right-of-way.

The rebuilt lines will be taller but stronger, less susceptible to failure and able to withstand ice storms with the new aluminum conductor and steel poles.

Phase two involves rebuilding eight miles of existing steel structures coming from the Robert Moses switchyard in Massena and rebuilding 0.4 miles of steel structures into the Adirondack substation with steel monopoles, and constructing a new 345 kV switchyard at the Robert Moses switchyard and Adirondack substation.

In its entirety, the Smart Path Reliability Project traverses through 12 towns from north to south — Massena, Louisville, Norfolk, Madrid, Potsdam, Canton, Russell, Hermon, Edwards and Pitcairn in St. Lawrence County and Diana and Croghan in Lewis County.

“Governor Cuomo has set New York on course to achieving 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and zero greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector by 2040,” Public Service Commission Chair John B. Rhodes said in a statement. “Projects such as the Smart Path project enhance and improve transmission across the State and are absolutely vital to make the renewable energy generated upstate accessible for the entire state.”

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