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NYPA spending millions to improve Energy Highway in Northern New York

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MASSENA - The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has announced that the NYPA Board of Trustees has authorized $31 million in funding to help upgrade NYPA’s transmission system in Central and Northern New York.

The May 21 trustees’ action stems from the recommendation in Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York Energy Highway Blueprint for accelerating construction and repair of the state’s aging transmission infrastructure. The funding includes $19.6 million and $11.7 million for refurbishment of transmission system equipment at NYPA’s Frederick R. Clark Energy Center in Marcy and Massena Substation in Massena, respectively.

“A strong, state-of-the-art Energy Highway is essential for New York to remain a leader in clean, affordable and reliable energy,” said Governor Cuomo. “In order to meet the challenges of the 21st century economy and to promote increased business investment in our state, we need to start modernizing New York’s energy infrastructure. The New York Power Authority has taken a critical step in this effort with a significant investment in its electric transmission system.”

In December 2012, Governor Cuomo announced a $726 million multiyear Transmission Life Extension and Modernization (TLEM) program to repair and rebuild NYPA’s more than half-century-old transmission system in Central, Northern and Western New York. In line with the Energy Highway Blueprint’s provision for NYPA to accelerate spending on its generation and transmission infrastructure, NYPA’s current four-year transmission capital plan is expending about $455 million, which is nearly $300 million more than originally projected in last year’s four-year plan. The projects covered by the trustees’ May 21 authorization of funding are part of the $455 million in accelerated spending, much of which is associated with the planned $726 million TLEM program.

“Governor Cuomo has issued a challenge to update and revitalize New York’s energy infrastructure to meet the demands of a high-tech economy, and protect and create jobs from major investments,” said Gil C. Quiniones, president and chief executive officer, NYPA. “With the NYPA trustees’ latest approval of expenditures for infrastructure improvements, the Power Authority continues to respond to the urgent need for a modern, efficient transmission system for the reliable delivery of power to the state’s businesses and residents.”

The Energy Highway initiative, introduced in the 2012 State of the State address, is the centerpiece of the Governor’s Power NY agenda to make certain that New York’s energy grid is the most advanced in the nation and promotes increased business investment in the state. The Energy Highway Blueprint was issued in October 2012 and proposed 13 specific actions divided among four categories to provide solutions for upgrading and revitalizing the state’s energy infrastructure, including projects to accelerate construction and repair.

The Power Authority owns and operates approximately one-third of the state’s high-voltage power lines, which help serve as the backbone of the state’s power grid. NYPA has transmission systems that date back to the late 1950s and 1960s when the Power Authority constructed its major hydroelectric power plants on the St. Lawrence and Niagara rivers.

The $31 million authorized by the NYPA trustees, along with $119 million authorized in December for transmission equipment improvements at the St. Lawrence Hydroelectric Power Plant in Massena and the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant in Lewiston, and other projects, will be followed in coming years by upgrading and replacing transmission-line structures that extend along existing transmission corridors from NYPA’s hydropower plants. Another dimension of the Power Authority’s TLEM includes investing in Smart Grid technologies that will maximize performance of its transmission facilities.

Consistent with the goals of the Energy Highway to improve the state’s transmission system, the NYPA trustees on May 21 also authorized $6.1 million for work on its right-of-way exiting the switchyard at the St. Lawrence plant. The improvements, known as the Moses Willis Separation Project, will improve the reliability along the only major transmission corridor traveling east from the plant.

The two transmission lines on this path are currently mounted on common towers. Separating the lines onto different towers allows the lines to carry more power, relieving congestion during times of high demand and improving system reliability. While this project is funded separately from TLEM, it is another example of NYPA’s commitment to responsible stewardship of its infrastructure to ensure that this part of the Energy Highway is fully ready to meet the increasing electric system needs of a growing economy.

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