The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved plans for a $4.5 billion transmission line by Montreal-based public utility Hydro-Québec that will deliver Canadian hydropower to the Big Apple.
According to officials, the 339-mile Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) will begin delivering 1,250 megawatts of hydropower, created by dams in Canada, to New York City by 2025. Officials say it will be enough to power over one million New York homes.
The transmission line, backed by the Blackstone Inc. investment firm, was given the green light on April 14. Officials overseeing the project claim it will provide a “dependable, all-season source of baseload, renewable, clean hydropower” that will help reduce the city’s reliance on power plants that burn fossil fuel.
Hydro-Québec said fossil fuels currently provide nearly 90 percent of New York City’s total electricity.
In a news release about the CHPE, company officials said the new transmission line will lower the cost of electricity generation by over $17 billion in its first 25 years of operation and provide $189 million in “environmental and community benefits” across the state.
They also said the project will create about 1,400 “family-sustaining jobs” during its construction and reduce carbon emission by 37 million metric tons in the first 10 years, “the equivalent of taking over half a million cars off New York’s roads.”
The announcement comes amid New York City’s push to eliminate carbon from its power grid by 2040 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and 0fficials said the transmission line will contribute 28 percent to achieving the city’s greenhouse gas reduction target by 2030.
But not everyone in New York is in favor of the project.
Critics pointed out that the proposed contract for the project did not require Hydro-Québec to provide New York with electricity in the cold winter months, Politico reported. Some environmental advocates say this will lead to more reliance on “peaker plants,” power plants that are generally run only when there is high demand.
And according to a nonprofit news platform The City, utility customers will foot the bill for the costs of the new transmission lines, with residential users across the state set to pay an extra $2 to $4 on their monthly electricity bills.
However, proponents say the overall increase of renewable power downstate should effectively stabilize customer bills overall, as consumers will be less exposed to volatile prices.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul praised the project, calling it a “major step forward in achieving New York State’s goal of 70 percentage of our energy from renewable resources,” while touting the number of jobs the project will create.
Elsewhere on Thursday, PSC also approved Clean Path NY, an $11 billion infrastructure project comprising over 20 wind and solar generation farms that will purportedly deliver more than 7.5 million megawatt-hours of energy into New York City every year.
Officials also said that the joint projects will help protect against volatile fossil fuel price fluctuations, which are currently hitting Americans hard, and stabilize long-term energy costs.
The announcement comes as American drivers are bracing for fuel prices to rise to their highest levels in eight years this summer, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on April 13 (pdf), with oil prices further exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.