Transmission Project Approvals Help Unlock NY’s Clean Future
Two new projects recently approved by New York’s electric-grid operator will provide a historic boost the state, putting the most new electricity transmission in 30 years on track for construction and helping it achieve landmark clean energy goals.
On April 8, 2019, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which controls and operates the state’s electric grid, announced the selection of two transmission projects that will enable the delivery of power from generating facilities located in upstate New York, including significant amounts of renewable energy, to downstate population centers like New York City.
The selection of these projects is an important step in ensuring that New York meets its clean energy goals, including Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent call to boost the state’s Clean Energy Standard from 50 percent to 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030. New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC), the state entity that regulates New York utility companies, must now take action to ensure that these and other transmission projects move forward quickly while ensuring that these projects are sited and constructed in a way to minimize their environmental impact by utilizing existing rights of way (as called for in this policy statement by NRDC and other groups). In addition, the PSC should work with NYISO to quickly identify additional transmission system improvement needs and ensure that the future grid will be able to accommodate the large amounts of clean energy generation that will be built in the next several years.
Still, NYISO’s approval of the projects is a significant milestone. It marks just the second and third time that so called “public policy” transmission upgrades have been approved. We will need more such upgrades to handle the coming influx of wind and solar power.
New York’s process for increasing transmission capacity is yielding results
NYISO’s process for approving transmission lines needed to integrate clean energy was adopted pursuant to a 2011 order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the interstate transmission of electricity. FERC’s Order 1000 required NYISO and other grid operators to develop a process to consider transmission needs driven by public policy requirements established by federal or state laws or regulations (such as New York’s Clean Energy Standard) in the local and regional transmission planning process.