Not since the days of Robert Moses has so much been proposed addressing New York state power transmission and generation as is currently pending before the state Energy Task Force and Gov. Andrew Cuomos Energy Highway Initiative. Over 130 proposals that represent billions of dollars of potential investment and thousands of jobs are currently being considered.
One of the proposals, the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE), had a head start and was actually a call to action for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers through the significant harm it will cause to the state energy economy.
For decades, high electric rates in the New York City region were caused by transmission congestion in the state system, preventing cheaper upstate power from accessing the New York City market. The CHPE project promises to deliver 1,000 megawatts of less expensive power from Quebec through an exclusive extension cord that denies any state generator access to the line or any hope to compete.
The CHPE project also has a sinister factor, insomuch as part of its executive management is made up of former state public energy civil servants who learned about the transmission inadequacies while paid by state taxpayers, then using that knowledge to advance proposals harmful to state energy workers.
The CHPE line reports on its site that their $2 billion investment will create 300 jobs. It will also suck over $1 billion a year out of the state energy economy and potentially threaten the ability to finance the repairs of the state transmission system. The lost power generation jobs that will result from this proposal will deliver a net job loss for the state.
The NY Transco proposals, from state utilities where the problems exist, proposes to address congestion on the transmission lines that every New Yorker depends on, and is a $2.9 billion proposal that will create approximately 38,000 direct and indirect jobs and have a total economic impact of $7 billion.
And, while the CHPE project will deliver a final body blow to many struggling power generators, the NY Transco proposal will allow state-made power to help lower New York City rates, protect existing state power generation jobs and facilitate thousands of additional generation jobs in state renewable and traditional power generation.
The Energy Task Force Request for Information guidelines identify a priority that is particularly interested in proposed projects that offer substantial direct and indirect job creation and economic development ... for New Yorkers.
We are confident the Energy Task Force will advance proposals that deliver the greatest state economic and environmental outcomes.
Theodore J. Skerpon
The writer is president/business manager of IBEW Local 97.