The New York Independent System Operator’s (NYISO) Board of Directors has announced it has selected a proposal from NextEra Energy Transmission New York (NextEra) – a move that would increase Western New York’s access to hydropower. 

In a statement, NYSIO said the proposal would address the public policy need for new transmission in Western New York, and is the first selection of a transmission project by the NYISO using the Public Policy Transmission Planning Process (PPTPP) approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under Order No. 1000.

The PPTPP is the culmination of a joint effort by the NYISO, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC), developers, and stakeholders to address transmission needs in Western New York. Those needs are driven by New York State public policy requirements to more fully utilize renewable energy from the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station as well as imports from Ontario.

While maximizing the flow of energy from renewable resources, the transmission upgrades are expected to provide reliability, environmental and economic benefits, including: improving transmission security, reducing emissions, and increasing consumer access to lower-cost resources.

“The cleaner, greener grid of the future will depend on a modernized, upgraded, and expanded transmission system,” said NYISO President and CEO Brad Jones. “Well planned transmission investments and upgraded transmission capability are vital to meeting the state’s renewable public policy goals and to efficiently move power to address regional needs. We sincerely appreciate the hard work that all of the developers put into their proposals, which made for a robust competitive process.”

The recommendations in the Western NY PPTPP Report approved by the board were developed in response to a PSC Order that found “significant environmental, economic, and reliability benefits could be achieved by relieving the transmission congestion identified in Western New York.”

Pursuant to the PSC Order, the NYISO issued a solicitation for proposals to address the Western NY Need. Developers submitted twelve proposed projects and the NYISO identified ten viable and sufficient projects from five developers. The Western NY PPTPP Report describes the extensive comparative evaluations performed for the proposed transmission projects, culminating in the NYISO’s recommendations for ranking and selection of NextEra’s Empire State Line as the more efficient or cost-effective transmission solution.

The Empire State Line Proposal includes two new 345kV substations near Dysinger and Elma, a twenty mile 345 kV line connecting the new substations, as well as a phase angle regulator (PAR) to control power flows. All facilities will predominantly utilize existing rights-of-way. The Dysinger substation will become the new transmission hub in Western New York, connecting a total of seven 345 kV lines. This new hub will not only provide access to existing renewable resources, but will also provide a backbone for future renewable resource integration in Western NY.

NextEra must submit the project to the appropriate governmental agencies and authorities to obtain approvals and permits to site, construct, and operate the project. This includes the PSC’s process for siting of major utility transmission facilities under Article VII of the Public Service Law.

The NYISO will work with NextEra to enter into agreements for the development and operation of the transmission project, including a schedule for siting, permitting, interconnection, construction, and other milestones for entry into service by June 2022.