Power Line Update

An underwater power line would avoid the need for overhead transmission lines. Photo by Wikipedia.org.

Transmission Developers, Inc. (TDI) is proposing to build a 1,000 megawatt high voltage direct current energy transmission powerline 335 miles from Quebec to New York City. In our region the power line would sit on the bed of Lake Champlain while further south it would sit beneath the Hudson River. The company came to Plattsburgh on October 1 at the invitation of the New York Citizens' Advisory Committee on the Future of Lake Champlain.

The project has been in review since 2010 and in that time LCC has worked to minimize environmental impacts. We have pushed for a route that would avoid wetlands and the sludge bed near the old International Paper plant in Ticonderoga. We advocated for the establishment of an environmental mitigation fund and recommended that the fund be used to establish an invasive species barrier for the Champlain Canal. And we have called on the Environmental Impact Statement to consider alternative, more environmental friendly sources of energy for New York City.

As part of the settlement agreement with DPS, TDI will establish a $117 million environmental trust fund. The fund has four focal areas: fish population and recreational fisheries surveys, fish habitat assessments, critical habitat restoration, and aquatic invasive species management. The fund will be held and administered by the Hudson River Foundation. It will be overseen by a nine-member Governance Committee consisting of representatives from TDI, New York Departments of Environmental Conservation, State, and Public Service, Trout Unlimited, River Keeper, Scenic Hudson, New York City, and the Adirondack Park Agency. The trust fund will start with $2.5 million at the financial close of the project with the balance of the funds being allocated over the course of 35 years starting at the commercial operating date. Exact procedures for allocation of funds have not yet been developed.

The power line project has already received approval from the New York Department of Public Service (DPS) and they are seeking the necessary approval from the federal Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They will also need permits associated with best management practices during construction and operation of the power line. The company anticipates having all its permits in order by early 2014 and having the power line in-service and operational by 2018. 

The project will cost an estimated $2.2 billion and is being financed by private investors who would recoup their investment when the energy is sold. TDI is a privately held unit of the Blackstone Group LP.