Transmission project hits halfway mark

Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul said Monday that construction of NYPA’s Smart Path Moses-Adirondack transmission project, which began early last year and spans about 78 miles from Massena in St. Lawrence County to Croghan in Lewis County, has reached the halfway mark. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — A New York Power Authority project to upgrade transmission lines has reached the mid-point.

Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul said Monday that construction of NYPA’s Smart Path Moses-Adirondack transmission project, which began early last year, has reached the halfway mark. The project is on track to be completed in 2023.

The project’s first phase involves replacing 78 miles of the total 86-mile transmission artery from Massena in St. Lawrence County to Croghan in Lewis County. NYPA is replacing existing H-frame wooden structures, some of which are more than 80 years old, with single steel monopoles in the existing right of way. The transmission line was originally constructed by the federal government in 1942 and was the first asset acquired by NYPA in 1950.

As part of the project, which NYPA says has created hundreds of jobs during construction, the distance between poles is extended. That further minimizes the use of space on the right of way and greatly reduces the number of poles on the landscape. With fewer steel poles, the rebuilt lines will be taller but stronger, less susceptible to failure and able to better withstand inclement weather, such as ice storms. The reduced size of the project also means less of an impact on agriculture and wetlands.

NYPA officials said the Smart Path project is necessary to rebuild facilities that are well past their serviceable lifetime to make them more resilient and reduce maintenance costs. The rebuilt transmission lines are needed to deliver electricity, including carbon-free hydroelectric power, from Northern New York to the rest of the state; to re-energize the bulk electric system as a component of the New York Independent System Operator’s System Restoration Plan in the event of a future widespread outage; and to provide increased capacity for future expansion to meet New York’s clean energy targets.

Separately, NYPA is working with National Grid on a transmission project called Smart Path Connect. It involves rebuilding approximately 100 miles of transmission lines in the north country and Mohawk Valley. Smart Path Connect runs east to west from Clinton to Massena and north to south from Croghan to Marcy.

Phase two of the Smart Path project, which was approved by the state Public Service Commission in September, will be completed as part of the Smart Path Connect project.

Smart Path Connect is now under environmental review with the state Public Service Commission. When completed, the two segments of Smart Path Connect will join the Smart Path project, creating one continuous upgraded transmission line from Clinton to Marcy.

“The ambitious Smart Path transmission line rebuild project is critically important to the resiliency of New York’s north-south transmission system,” NYPA interim President and Chief Executive Officer Justin E. Driscoll said in a statement. “Every project milestone is an occasion for celebration, because each time we complete a section, New York State’s transmission system becomes stronger, more reliable and efficient.”

“I am very proud of the progress we have made on the Smart Path project,” NYPA Trustee Eugene L. Nicandri said in a statement. “We are steadily gaining traction on upgrading this important line so that more renewables can come onto the grid and we can move ahead with advancing New York’s energy and climate leadership goals.”

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