NYPA outlines transmission project work

The general public was invited to participate in Tuesday’s virtual public meetings on the Northern New York Priority Transmission Project, a joint project of the New York Power Authority and National Grid to rebuild about 100 miles of transmission lines. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — If all goes according to schedule, work on the New York Power Authority’s Northern New York Priority Transmission Project could begin in the third quarter of 2022 and be completed and in-service by the end of 2025.

The Northern New York Project will rebuild about 100 miles of transmission by replacing aging wood H-frames with steel poles primarily within existing transmission corridors. The work will also include replacing or upgrading about 10 substations along the project path.

“This project will involve replacement of our existing transmission line in St. Lawrence County, Franklin and Clinton counties, as well as Lewis and Oneida counties. This is a project that is needed to both improve the resiliency of the New York state electric grid and also to efficiently transport renewable power that is generated to high demand areas of the state,” Karen White, NYPA director of community affairs and community relations said during a virtual public meeting Tuesday.

She said the project was selected as a priority project by the state Public Service Commission.

“That really allows for the expeditious advancement of the state’s energy goals. This transmission project will also support NYPA’s Vision 2030, which is really a strategic plan focused on helping New York state meet its energy targets in establishing a zero carbon emission energy system by the year 2040,” Ms. White said.

Chris DeRoberts, NYPA lead licensing specialist, said NYPA filed a petition for the project with the Public Service Commission in July 2020. The Public Service Commission approved the concept of the project in October 2020.

The project will include conducting environmental reviews and preparing an engineering design before the application phase, “what we intend to do and where we intend to do it,” Mr. DeRoberts said.

There is also a formal review and comment period, and project plans and conditions for the project that will be reviewed by several agencies.

“If all of those parties can come to an agreement on the plans and conditions for the project, a certificate is issued for the project,” he said.

If not, an administrative law judge will rule on the project plan.

“Once the certificate is issued for approving the project, then we go forward with the next step, which is developing an environmental management and construction plan,” Mr. DeRoberts said.

Other approvals must also be obtained before construction can begin, he said.

James McCarten, NYPA senior project engineer said there would be two segments on the northern alignment. He said the first segment encompasses about 36 miles between the towns of Massena and Chateaugay.

“That’s about 404 structures approximately. These would be new structures replacing the wooden H-frames,” he said.

The second segment encompasses about nine miles between Chateaugay and Ellenburg.

“That’s about 131 structures approximately. There’s also a southern alignment between Croghan and Marcy. This encompasses upgrades of about 55 miles of transmission line. National Grid will be working with this segment,” Mr. McCarten said.

He said the upgrades to the transmission lines will have longer spans, resulting in fewer structures than currently exist and also creating a small overall footprint. The new steel poles will appear more streamlined and provide “less visual clutter,” he said.

John Finnegan, transmission supervisor, said construction will take place largely within existing rights of way, using practices that will help limit the impact on sensitive areas such as agricultural lands and wetlands. Minimal impact on landowners would also be addressed.

“We’re very sensitive to the impacts we will have during construction and after construction,” Mr. Finnegan said.

Another virtual public session to discuss the northern alignment will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday. Two virtual public sessions will also be held at 2 p.m. Thursday and 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the southern alignment. A link to the Zoom sessions can be found at nypa.gov/NNYPTP.

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