Orange County Partnership - News

  • A map of the 180-mile Excelsior Connect underground power line project.

NYSERDA to Green Light 1,500 MW of Renewable Energy Projects in the Fall

Earlier this year the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) issued Request for Proposals for its Tier 4 large scale energy renewal program that will specifically look to deliver up to 1,500 megawatts of renewable wind and solar energy into New York City.


These projects are seen as critical, particularly with the shutdown of the last reactor at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, NY in April.


A NYSERDA spokesman said that the authority received bids from seven proposers for seven projects by the May 12th deadline with 35 alternative configurations representing a total of more than 35 million megawatt hours of renewable energy per year—the equivalent of powering five million homes. The projects could provide nearly 7,500 megawatts of new renewable transmission capacity, which is nearly five times the capacity sought through the solicitation.


He added that “the strong response provides the robust competition needed to responsibly deliver renewable electricity to New York City and unlock significant benefits, including greenhouse gas reduction and improved air quality while spurring significant private sector investment and job creation.”


NYSERDA expects to file its recommended awards with the New York State Public Service Commission in the third quarter of 2021.


The Hudson Valley and New York City construction sectors could be looking at a number of major large-scale renewal projects in development later this year and into 2022 that promise to create thousands of jobs as the state looks to strengthen its power grid.


Bidders in the Tier 4 solicitation are the Excelsior Connect, Catskills Renewable Connector, Champlain Power Express, Clear Path NY, ConnectGen Solar Portfolio, MACS 911 and Tier 4 Connector.


Perhaps the most well-known of these bidders is the Champlain Power Express proposal. The New York State portion of Champlain Hudson Power Express, would consist of a new transmission line that will connect with the Québec Line at the U.S.-Canada border and extend to Astoria, Queens, to deliver clean energy directly to New York City.


Another proposer for the Tier 4 solicitation is Orange, CT-based AVANGRID Network’s “Excelsior Connect” project, which if approved, will transmit 1,200 MW of clean energy (renewable wind and solar) generated in upstate New York through a highly efficient and state-of-the-art 108-mile High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) underground line to New York City.


Sebastian Libonatti, Vice President Business Development for AVANGRID Networks, said that the project would begin in Sullivan County at a newly constructed North High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) site in the Monticello area and connect to the Coopers Corner converter substation.  It would then run from Sullivan, through central Orange County and into Rockland County, cross the Hudson River and enter Westchester County and connect to a newly constructed South HVDC convertor station site in the Bronx.  Finally the project would run AC cables to Con Edison’s Rainey substation adjacent to the Ravenswood power station in Queens. The route will be located underground adjacent to Route 17, I-87 and then would cross 2.5 miles of the Hudson River adjacent to the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge from Nyack to Tarrytown, and then into Westchester, the Bronx and Queens.


He noted that technology will be used to minimize the environmental impact on the Hudson River.


He said that during the construction phase it is estimated per a study from the Rockefeller Institute of Government, that the project would generate approximately 10,900 jobs and in total would create more than 17,400 total full-time equivalent jobs over three years. In addition, the analysis concluded AVANGRID's Excelsior Connect project would deliver $1.3 billion in labor income over three years and generate a total of $3.1 billion in economic output.


“This is a heavy labor (intensive) project,” Libonatti said. “Part of the reason why we submitted it and designed it this way was to minimize environmental impacts, the Hudson crossing, but also because it will employ thousands of New York-based employees.”


A final development cost for the project is still being calculated. Libonatti noted that it is estimated that 75% of the total capital expenditure for the venture will be spent in New York State.


Prior to its RFP response to NYSERDA in May, he related to that AVANGRID had signed a letter of intent with the New York State Building Trades and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. If the firm secures an award from NYSERDA, he noted that the firm would look to finalize agreements with the trades and the two IBEW locals.


NYSERDA will evaluate the competitive proposals to confirm that any selected projects bring the highest and best value to New York, also including evaluation criteria explicitly valuing the interests of disadvantaged communities, economic benefits, and workforce development in the selection process.


The NYSERDA solicitation includes historical baseline requirements applicable to hydroelectric resources to ensure that new dams are not constructed and existing resources are not redirected in a way that furthers overall reliance on fossil fuel-fired generation.  According to a NYSERDA spokesman, this is a crucial component of ensuring these projects deliver the most significant net benefits, including greenhouse gas reduction and improved air quality and public health for New Yorkers.