Home to an abundant source of clean energy resources and benefiting from direct access to renewable energy imports from Canada, Western New York is uniquely positioned to become the energy leader owned by the state. There is enough capacity to build a clean energy corridor, with renewable energy serving most homes and businesses from Buffalo to Rochester.
But if New York is to take full advantage of its clean energy resources, the state must focus on one critical, yet often overlooked step: connect. Until recently, thousands of megawatts of clean energy produced in Western New York sat untapped because the region lacked the capacity to transmit it.
If New York is to achieve its ambitious goal of building a 70% clean energy grid by 2030, it’s time to invest in the state’s aging transmission system. The newly constructed Empire State Transmission Line (ESL) can provide an example of how to do this.
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Every day, much of the energy produced in upstate New York comes from an emission-free resource. This includes nuclear energy, but also more renewable generations such as solar, wind and hydroelectricity. However, a congested transmission network limits the region’s ability to fully utilize these renewables. That’s largely because New York’s grid is so old it literally can’t handle clean power. In fact, across New York, over 80% of the state’s transmission lines were built before 1980.
In addition to being obsolete, many of New York’s power lines are so backed up that the state’s grid operator is often unable to accept all of the power produced from renewable generators like the Niagara Power Project in the city. New York Power Authority. This facility is the second largest conventional hydroelectric plant in the country and one of New York’s largest electricity generators, but its resources have been underutilized due to the limitations of the existing transmission system.
NextEra Energy Transmission New York’s Empire State Line helps improve the flow of clean energy. The new 20-mile transmission line will deliver 3,700 megawatts of clean energy across the state, enough to power more than 1.8 million homes. It will also provide $500 million in savings to utility customers over the next 20 years by making the state’s grid more efficient and reliable and will reduce carbon emissions by 7.4 million tons.
Albany State leaders have set a goal to achieve an emissions-free network by 2040. The Empire State Line is a significant step toward New York’s energy goals and an important example of what is possible when investing in transmission lines: maximum utility and reliable transfer of clean energy resources
If New York is to meet its clean energy goals, it must be able to transfer electricity efficiently. All of the state’s clean energy will be wasted if it cannot be delivered to homes. New York – it is high time to rebuild and strengthen our network. Our state’s clean energy future depends on it.
Rich Allen is the president of NextEra Energy Transmission New York.