Improving power lines benefits Hudson Valley’s future
Nobody would disagree that the Hudson Valley landscape is beautiful and worth preserving.
The area is known for its woodland trails, panoramic vistas, and rolling forests — with tourists and residents alike marveling at its natural beauty. The area supports a $4.75 billion tourism industry that helps fuel the upstate economy. Ensuring that the leisure and recreation industry, and the immeasurable beauty on which it depends, continues to thrive is a priority for the entire state.
With that in mind, it’s unfortunate that some activists are opposing sensible and environmentally responsible proposals to upgrade critical energy infrastructure to support jobs and living wages for New Yorkers. It may seem counterintuitive, but done right, improved power lines can open up new markets for clean energy, help reduce New York’s dependence on fossil fuels and the pollution they produce, and even improve the Hudson Valley’s iconic beauty, while at the same time, creating and supporting job growth.
Four companies are currently competing to win a New York Public Service Commission bid to increase the transmission line capacity of the Hudson Valley system. Not all four projects will get built. They are competing so that the state and region gets only the “best” project built. National Grid — which currently operates the transmission lines — has put forward a proposal to build new power lines entirely within the current footprint or right-of-way, where lines already exist.
Under this plan, no untouched views would be spoiled by new construction — in fact, there would be no changes to the scenery at all. In many places, towers would actually be removed — going from two towers to just one — as National Grid aims to consolidate its infrastructure and reduce the visible footprint it has on the landscape.
And for the sites that continue to host towers? The new ones would be either shorter or of comparable height to the existing ones, keeping the tree line unmarred by industrial structures. This leave-no-trace approach protects the homes and backyards of Hudson Valley residents from encroachment by new construction.
Just as the plan is responsible on the local level, it’s also an environmentally prudent one for the entire state. Currently, New York’s outdated power grid is unable to handle the demands made on it, which has the effect of strangling nascent clean energy projects that have the potential to transform the state. As of 2015, nearly 20 clean-energy projects had to be put on hold simply because the upstate power grid was too congested to support them.