A pipeline connecting Canadian resources to the American shoreline is only a step or two away from fruition, with federal permits and local opposition representing the largest stumbling blocks. Sound familiar?
It’s not exactly what you think. Most would believe this is a reference to Keystone XL, which inches closer and closer to a final decision this year, likely to be decided this summer.
Rather, New York State energy regulators officially approved the construction of a $2.2 billion project that could potentially generate power to over a million New York City citizens. Dubbed the Champlain Hudson Power Express Project (CHPE), the subterranean electric pipeline would enter the States from Quebec under Lake Champlain, then travel approximately 330 miles along the Hudson River to the Consolidated Edison converter station located in Astoria, Queens.
The project will provide clean hydroelectric power to New York City while also offering annual tax benefits from the CHPE to those affected by the installation process. Two 5-inch diameter cables will be buried to transfer the electricity, either underwater or underground, mainly along public roads and railroad tracks.
Sources indicate the pipeline will transfer one gigawatt, or 1,000 megawatts, across the border to assist in providing electricity for the Big Apple. As a whole, NYC currently requires nearly 10 gigawatts of energy to keep the lights on, so to speak. This project represents a sizable 10% increase in electric capacity for the New York City region.
The project has spent three years in development; after being publicly announced in February 2010, the project received a negotiated rate approval from FERC the following July, which led to a comprehensive review by the New York State Department of State. Once the review was completed and CHPE received approval in June 2011, nearly two additional years were spent acquiring permits from local authorities before the New York Public Service Commission unanimously approved the electric pipeline Thursday.
Regulators said a big factor in their approval stemmed from how the project will be entirely funded privately. Although the funding hasn’t been finalized at this point, there will be no charges added for customers to complete the project, even if it were to go over budget.
Now that the project has passed state legislation, it must gain federal approval from both the President and the Army Corp of Engineers. Opposition comes from the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, a consortium of business and labor groups who view the project as unnecessary and that it will not create enough jobs for the region. “It’s long term not going to generate any jobs in New York…it’s just a dedicated line where the power will be produced in Canada, and payments sent to Canada,” stated a spokesman for the Electricity Alliance.
While the opportunity for new jobs is questioned by some, more than 300 jobs will be created for the project according to the CHPE website. The project is estimated be up and running by the fall of 2017. In addition, as a part of the agreement, a $117.15 million trust “for the enhancement of aquatic habitats and fisheries resources in Lake Champlain and the Hudson, Harlem and East rivers and their tributaries,” as stated in a Public Service Commission press release.