New York Solidifies $4.5 Billion Hydropower Plans, Impacting Over 1 Million Residents

Reflection taken in the Mount Marcy (the highest point in NY state) region of the Adirondacks in Northern New York.
makalu / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Big Apple took a big step toward lowering its carbon footprint last week when regulators gave the go-ahead to a $4.5 billion transmission line that will deliver Canadian hydropower to New York City.

The move, announced on April 14, is considered a key part of New York State’s initiative to eliminate carbon from its power grid by 2040, Bloomberg reported. Called the Champlain Hudson Power Express, the 339-mile line should be completed in 2025, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in statement.

In a related move, the state’s Public Service Commission also approved Clean Path NY, a green energy project that comprises more than 20 wind and solar farms and a second transmission line.

New York City currently gets about 85% of its electricity from burning fossil fuels — a percentage environmental authorities say needs to be brought way down. Previously, efforts to use more renewable energy sources have been hindered by a lack of transmission lines, Bloomberg noted.

The Champlain Hudson Power Express solves that problem, but not everyone is happy about it. The Riverkeeper environmental group has pushed back against the hydropower project because of its focus on using river water rather than other sources of clean energy such as solar or wind.

However, supporters point out that the two projects approved last week are expected to reduce the city’s reliance on fossil fuels by more than 50% in 2030.

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“Today’s historic decision by the Public Service Commission is a game-changer for New York’s transition away from fossil fuels,” Doreen Harris, president of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said in the statement.

The Champlain Hudson line will deliver 1,250 megawatts of electricity from Canadian hydropower facilities owned by Hydro-Quebec, enough to power more than 1 million homes. New York City’s skyline uses about 52 million megawatt hours of power every year, Politico reported, or nearly enough to light up the entire state of Massachusetts.

The new power source won’t come cheap. New York City will likely pay billions of dollars more for its renewable electricity over the next 25 years to finance the Champlain Hudson Power Express, according to regulatory files reviewed by Politico.

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