Orange County Partnership - News

PSC Approves Green Energy Projects Valued at More Than $8 Billion

ALBANY—The New York State Public Service Commission on April 14th approved contracts with Clean Path New York LLC for its Clean Path NY project and H.Q. Energy Services Inc. for its Champlain Hudson Power Express project to deliver clean, renewable solar, wind and hydroelectric power from upstate New York and Canada to New York City. The two contracts are expected to generate more than $8 billion in economic development activity for New York State.


“New York continues to lead the nation with innovative green energy initiatives and has been an example to the rest of the world how to confront the perils of climate change, the existential threat of our time,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “Today's decision is a major step forward in achieving New York State's goal of 70% of our energy from renewable resources, while paving the way for thousands of high-quality jobs, spurring billions in economic activity, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, and ushering in a cleaner, greener New York for all.”


The state's first-of-its-kind renewable energy and transmission projects are expected to deliver up to $5.8 billion in overall societal benefits statewide, including greenhouse gas reductions and air quality improvements, and $8.2 billion in economic development across the state, including investments in disadvantaged communities. Further, when built these projects will help protect against volatile fossil fuel price fluctuations and stabilize long-term energy costs.


Both projects have committed to Project Labor Agreements and paying prevailing wages. The 1,250 MW CHPE project involves the construction of an underground and underwater transmission line spanning approximately 339 miles between the Canada–U.S. border and New York City. Clean Path NY comprises a 175-mile state-of-the-art transmission line, 3,800 megawatts of new in-state solar and wind power, and New York Power Authority’s existing Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Plant, a hydroelectric facility that will strengthen the reliability and resiliency of the project.


Earlier this month, construction labor leaders in the Hudson Valley, called for support for the construction of two power line projects—the Champlain Hudson Power Express and Clear Path New York, according to a report in Mid-Hudson News.


The underground electric lines, powered by solar, wind and hydroelectric, would bring electric power from Quebec, Canada on a route that goes from Canada to Catskill, to Ulster, Orange, Rockland and Queens counties.


Labor leaders stressed that the projects would bring jobs and training for New York’s labor force. Officials said one of the benefits of the project is that it includes a $40-million for job training and workforce development, and in  a new clean energy and climate resiliency work sector.


Hudson Valley Building Trades Council President and Laborers Local No. 17 Business Manager L. Todd Diorio said State Senator James Skoufis acquired a grant for the training funds, according to Mid-Hudson News.


As the largest transmission projects contracted for New York State in the last 50 years, these projects will reduce the city's reliance on fossil fuel-fired generation by more than 50% in 2030. The announcement accelerates progress to exceed New York State's goal for 70% of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 on the path to a zero-emission grid by 2040 as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.


The contract awards were bolstered by the City of New York's confirmation that it will join in these landmark awards by agreeing to purchase a portion of the renewable attributes generated by the two projects, thus helping to make the scale of these projects possible while creating the opportunity to reduce the cost impact of these projects by up to $1.7 billion to all other ratepayers.


The NYS Office of General Services has also committed to entering into a contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority or Tier 4 RECs associated with the energy used by state agencies and departments located in New York City. NYSERDA will also offer renewable attributes from these projects for voluntary purchase, finally enabling the many New York City organizations with interest in switching to clean energy, but who have been unable to do so on-site due to practical constraints, to go 100% renewable with confidence. The government commitments and likely potential for additional private sector purchases are expected to significantly reduce the statewide utility ratepayer impact of implementing the CLCPA and Tier 4 program.


The PSC's October 2020 order adopted a Tier 4 program as part of the PSC's Clean Energy Standard with the purpose of increasing the penetration of renewables into New York City, and directed NYSERDA to conduct a Tier 4 solicitation. In January 2021, NYSERDA issued a Tier 4 renewable energy solicitation seeking projects that can cost effectively and responsibly deliver renewable energy to New York City, an area of the state that relies on aging fossil fuel-fired generation. The selected projects are expected to deliver 18 million megawatt-hours of clean energy per year, or more than a third of New York City's annual electric consumption, from a diverse and resilient clean generation portfolio including onshore wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, backed by energy storage, from upstate New York and Quebec. Combining these projects with the existing contracted portfolio of offshore wind projects connecting directly into New York City, turns the page on the city's energy history, increasing resilience and reliability while significantly improving air quality, state officials noted.


With approval of the contracts, NYSERDA payments will commence for each respective project once the project has obtained all required permits and approvals, has completed construction, and is delivering power to New York City, which is expected to begin in 2025 for the fully permitted CHPE project and 2027 for the CPNY project.


New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “This is a historic milestone in our mobilization against climate change and fight for environmental justice. Today, we begin dismantling the disparate access to renewable energy that has plagued our city for far too long, especially those communities that reside in the shadow of some of the oldest, most polluting power plants in the state. Not one but two new transmission lines will be built to bring clean renewable energy from the north into New York City—a feat that has not occurred at this scale in decades. I'm proud of the city's commitment to purchase 100% of its electrical need from these lines, catalyzing others to do the same. I want to applaud the commission, NYSERDA, and Governor Hochul for taking this bold action and I look forward to continued partnership with the governor to tackle climate change.”


As a component of these landmark deals, Hydro-Quebec will purchase electricity from the planned Apuiat wind farm, developed by the Innu communities in Quebec, as well as enter into a partnership with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke for joint ownership of the line in Québec that will connect to the Champlain Hudson Power Express.


“Today’s vote is a win for New York and moves forward a project that will create thousands of in-state jobs, reduce harmful pollutants, and invest nearly $189 million in protecting our environment, our neighborhoods, and our planet—all while delivering renewable, reliable, power,” said Transmission Developers CEO Donald Jessome. “It is also a testament to forward-looking public officials who put forward bold clean energy targets and community leaders, environmental advocates, business and labor leaders, academics, and New Yorkers who studied the project and voiced their support for it—the PSC clearly heard and considered all these voices.”


“We want to thank the PSC commissioners for their diligent review of the contract and thorough consideration of the broad public input during the process,” added Hydro-Quebec CEO Sophie Brochu. “This decision has New York State and Québec taking one giant step together towards climate progress with a project that is a model for equitable clean energy infrastructure that makes sense for ratepayers and the communities it has the privilege to serve.”


“Today’s decision is a key milestone and critical step forward in the fight for New York’s clean energy future, and the Clean Path NY team is ready to move ahead with this major clean energy project for the benefit of all New Yorkers,” said Clean Path NY leaders Michael Polsky of Invenergy, Jeff Blau of energyRe, and Justin E. Driscoll of the New York Power Authority. “Clean Path NY is a turning point for New York as we work to finally resolve the congestion that has plagued our electricity grid for decades and slowed progress on urgent climate goals. The Clean Path NY project will deliver good-paying jobs, make our air cleaner, and provide reliable emissions-free power to residents and businesses across the state—a win-win-win for New York. We are proud to help make New York a healthier, more resilient place to call home.”


Key benefits of these projects include:


  • The projects will deliver up to $2.8 billion in public health benefits resulting from reduced exposure to harmful pollutants—including avoided premature deaths, reduced asthma-related hospital visits, and lost workdays due to illness.


  • The projects will create approximately 10,000 family-sustaining jobs statewide with $8.2 billion in economic development investments, helping accelerate the state's economic recovery from COVID-19. The project developers have also committed to prevailing wage and project labor agreements to ensure quality, good-paying jobs for New Yorkers.


  • The two projects committed to investing a combined $460 million in community benefit funds to create pathways to green energy jobs, support public health, advance capital improvement projects, realize habitat restoration and improve the environmental footprint of buildings in disadvantaged communities.


  • Combined, the projects are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 77 million metric tons over the next 15 years, the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road over this time period.


  • The two Tier 4 approved contracts combined will result in significant societal benefits up to $5.8 billion. The contracts include an index REC structure to help cushion customers against spikes in energy prices so when electricity prices rise the Tier 4 program costs go down. The average statewide bill impact for the typical residential customer will be approximately 3%, or $3 per month beginning once the projects are in operation.


  • In addition, these new underground transmission lines will avoid, minimize, and mitigate environmental damages including impacts on sensitive species and habitats and be resilient in the face of extreme weather. Both projects are required to go through the PSC's Article VII permitting process, which includes a full review of the need for the project and any environmental impacts of the siting, design, construction, and operation of major transmission facilities in New York State. CHPE has received its Article VII permit, and CPNY will begin the process.


  • The CPNY and CHPE projects will add to New York's existing robust pipeline of large-scale renewable energy, comprised of nearly 100 solar, land-based wind, and offshore wind projects totaling 11,000 megawatts of clean power—enough to power over five million New York homes when completed.