US regulators approve 330-mile transmission line bringing low-cost Canadian hydropower to NYC

IndustriesAssociated Press

Federal regulators have completed the environmental review of a proposed 330-mile transmission line to bring lower-cost Canadian hydroelectric power to New York City, the project's developer announced Monday.

Albany-based Transmission Developers said the U.S. Department of Energy's approval of the environmental impact statement clears the way for final permitting of the 1,000-megawatt Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line, which has been in development since 2008.

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"The CHPE transmission line will provide clean, affordable power while minimizing community and environmental impacts, and it offers a creative solution to meet the energy challenges of the future," Transmission Developers CEO Donald Jessome said.

The project is aimed at saving about 2 percent to 3 percent on energy bills in New York City, where power is expensive and urgently needed. Jessome said ratepayers will also see price breaks from Long Island to Albany. Besides ratepayer savings, the project will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the electricity is produced by hydropower rather than fossil fuel-burning, he said.

The line is to run under the length of Lake Champlain, through parts of the Hudson River and beneath railroad rights of way en route from Quebec to Queens. Jessome said the company expects to have remaining permits in hand in time to begin construction next year.

Construction is expected to take about four years, create about 300 jobs and cost about $2 billion.

The developers of the Champlain Hudson Power Express are also developing the New England Clean Power Link, a 150-mile, 1,000-megawatt transmission cable under Lake Champlain from Canada to Vermont. That project was announced last fall.

Some upstate New York legislators have opposed the Quebec-to-New York City power line, saying it would compete with New York power producers. Supporters say it would make the state less bound to the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he wants to close the aging nuclear plant but needs an alternate source for the energy it produces.