* Project could provide up to 10 pct of power used in NYC
* Power line to take 3-1/2 years to build, cost $2.2 billion
* Hydro-Quebec expected to sell most power over line
* Construction to be funded by developers, not NY ratepayers
By Scott DiSavino
April 18 The New York Public Service Commission
on Thursday approved a plan to build the Champlain Hudson
transmission line, which will be capable of moving 1,000
megawatts of hydropower from Québec to New York City.
The project will create an average of more than 300 jobs
during the 3-1/2-year construction period and cost an estimated
$2.2 billion, Transmission Developers Inc, a privately held unit
of Blackstone Group LP, said on its website.
Transmission Developers said it would use high-voltage
direct current technology for the line, which the PSC said would
be like a giant extension cord from Québec to New York City.
The 335-mile (539-km) line will be built under Lake
Champlain and the Hudson River and will run underground along
railroad tracks and other rights of way to minimize the visual
and environmental impact.
The PSC said the project could provide up to 10 percent of
the power used in New York City and would probably reduce power
costs there and in the rest of the state.
The project developers, not the state's electric ratepayers,
will fund the power line's construction, the PSC noted.
The PSC also said the line would cut emissions by reducing
the amount of power the city generates at its oil and natural
gas fired plants.
But not everyone supports the project.
New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, an
advocacy group whose members include major consumers, producers
and distributors of electricity in the state, sees electricity
rates rising because of the project.
"The PSC's decision means New Yorkers will annually send
billions of dollars to Canada for a product that we can make
less expensively and more reliably in New York," Jerry Kremer,
chairman of New York AREA, said in a statement.
Québec's provincial power company Hydro-Québec is expected
to contract for 75 percent of the capacity of the line under a
long-term agreement. Transmission Developers said it will hold
an open season for the other 25 percent of capacity, likely over
Transmission Developers President and CEO Donald Jessome
told Reuters the company still needed a few federal permits, a
final engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract
and a final transmission services contract for the deal.
He said they expect to have the permits by the fourth
quarter of 2013 and the transmission services agreement with
Hydro-Québec within the next few months. Everything should be
done by the first quarter of 2014, allowing the company to start
construction in 2014 and complete the project by late 2017.
Hydro-Québec will develop the part of the line located in
Québec. The line will connect a Montréal-area substation owned
by Hydro-Québec to a substation in Astoria, Queens, owned by
Consolidated Edison Inc.