Historically, the process to complete large scale utility projects has gone at a deliberate pace. Beyond the traditional issues with any new construction or large scale project, delays were attributed to the extended approval process required by the New York Public Service Commission (PSC). However, on April 3, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, which “aimed at improving the siting and construction of large-scale renewable energy projects in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective manner.” A year later, in April 2021, the PSC promulgated new regulations which place a nine-month time constraint on issuing approval for proposed transmission facilities.
Since the enactment of the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) has developed a plan to make New York’s energy grid and transmission route more suitable for the growing demand for renewable energy. Part of the existing issue is the disparity between the location of production and the location of demand. Upstate New York maintains many of the state’s renewable production sites, most notably wind farms and solar farms, while the concentration of energy demand is located in the downstate region.
A potential first test for the efficiency of the new regulation will be the Northern New York Priority Transmission Project. Pursuant to the New York Power Authority, the Northern New York Priority Transmission Project “is a multi-faceted project that includes: completion of the second phase of NYPA’s Smart Path Moses-Adirondack rebuild; rebuilding approximately 45 miles of transmission eastward from Massena to the Town of Clinton, known as the Northern Alignment; rebuilding approximately 55 miles of transmission southward from Croghan to Marcy, known as the Southern Alignment; and rebuilding and expanding several substations along the impacted transmission corridor.”
By investing in an upgraded transmission system and constructing new transmission facilities, the state hopes to ensure reliable and efficient renewable energy throughout New York. With the Northern New York Priority Transmission Project as a potential first test for the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, it will be important for those in the energy industry to keep abreast of the New York Public Service Commission’s proceedings relating to the project.