Transmission lines are vital

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - In late May 1991, I participated in ceremonies marking the dedication of the New York Power AuthorityÂ’s Sound Cable Project, a major new underground and underwater electric transmission link from Westchester County to Long Island by way of Long Island Sound.

One thing I remember most about the outdoor event is the unseasonably hot weather. Beyond that, I recall the excitement as Gov. Mario M. Cuomo formally ordered the 26-mile cable capable of carrying clean, economical electricity to the Island from Canada and upstate New York, while also cutting our dependence on foreign oil.

The 345-kilovolt cable was effectively the last link in a giant extension cord that began with a NYPA line from the Quebec border to the Utica area and another from there to the Hudson Valley. But what we didnÂ’t know on that sweltering afternoon more than 17 years ago was that the cable would, at least until now, also prove to be the last major transmission line built entirely within New York.

True, the IslandÂ’s residents and businesses are benefiting today from the Neptune transmission project from New Jersey and the New Haven-Shoreham cable beneath the Sound, but we must now move aggressively to strengthen New YorkÂ’s in-state transmission system and to explore opportunities for new connections to Canada and states to the south.

In line with Gov. David A. PatersonÂ’s ambitious energy and environmental goals, IÂ’m making that a prime objective in my new role at the New York Power Authority.

As part of a 10-year plan, weÂ’re looking at several transmission project possibilities, including a line under the state thruway and potential links to Canada and the Mid-Atlantic states.

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), the organization that enforces operating standards for U.S. and Canadian power systems, recently put out a report saying that turning to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power could threaten the reliability of the grid since the power would have to be carried from where itÂ’s produced to where itÂ’s most needed. This is particularly ominous for a state like New York, in which more than 750 megawatts of wind power is now operating and another 7,000 megawatts of renewable power, mostly wind and mostly upstate, has been proposed for interconnection to the system.

If the NERC report is right, we might have to decide between clean power or dependable service. ThatÂ’s a no-win choice.


in Year