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Meeting Clean-Energy Goals Means Transmission Upgrades

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Monday, June 29, 2020   

ALBANY, N.Y. -- In 10 years, New York will be getting 70% of its electric power from renewable sources, so clean-energy advocates are discussing how to send that power where it's needed.

Solar and wind farms and offshore wind now in the planning stages now need transmission infrastructure, but much of New York's existing electrical grid was built more than half a century ago.

Anne Reynolds is executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York; she pointed out that in just a few years, the limits of the current grid could start slowing down clean-energy development.

"There's a sense of urgency now to talk about the transmission we need and to plan for the grid of the future, knowing that it will take maybe five years to get those projects under construction," Reynolds said.

The New York State Public Service Commission recently released a new proposed plan for achieving the renewable-energy mandate put into state law in 2019.

In April, New York also passed the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth Act. Reynolds said that requires the state to determine the combination of new renewables, new transmission and energy storage needed to meet clean-energy goals.

"That study's happening now," she said. "It's got two parts: all we need for upstate New York and what we need for offshore wind. And the study's supposed to be completed by the end of the calendar year."

Last week more than 200 New Yorkers logged in to a virtual town-hall meeting hosted by ACE New York to discuss the need for greater transmission capability in the state.

Participants in that meeting raised concerns about preserving open space and farmland. But Reynolds noted much of the increased capacity can be achieved without creating new transmission corridors.

"We would aim to have this transmission be in existing rights of way as much as possible," she said. "So you wouldn't be developing new green fields to build this transmission necessarily. You can upgrade existing lines to make them be able to move more power."

She said simply making much of the electrical grid stronger and more resilient will help New York state achieve its renewable-energy goals.

Disclosure: Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Inc. contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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