By Rod Lenfest, President, Boundless Energy NE
As industry leaders and policymakers wrestle with the challenges related to modernizing New York State’s aging energy infrastructure, there is an emerging debate about the “need” for more capacity. The question itself misses two central points: (1) increased capacity is only one aspect of the state’s multidimensional energy needs; and (2) moving forward with the Governor’s Energy Highway initiative in the right way can address all these needs concurrently, and minimize future rate increases for consumers.
Boundless Energy’s Leeds Path West (LPW) project addresses New York’s Energy Highway goal of rebuilding the existing AC grid, rather than simply erecting new transmission lines, and in doing so solves the region’s multidimensional energy needs for a lower cost than our competitors and with minimal impact to Hudson Valley residents. There are actually six core needs that have to be addressed, and the key to solving all of them lies in the use of innovative technology.
1. Upgrade Aging Infrastructure: Estimates are that an additional $30 billion in capital investments is needed over the next ten years just to maintain New York’s electric grid infrastructure. With such a substantial investment needed just to maintain the current system, it makes no sense to pass on even more cost to consumers to pay for the additional construction of new transmission towers. Further, the use of innovative technology will enable Boundless to deliver increased capacity while performing basic maintenance, thus reducing future rate increases for consumers.
2. Enhance Storm Resiliency: Severe and damaging storms are becoming an increasingly common occurrence, yet this known weakness in the region’s transmission system has been neglected for 20 years. LPW offers a significant upgrade to existing conductors which are critical to the state’s electric grid by rebuilding the circuits to meet current ice resiliency standards.
3. Augment Backbone for a Reforming the Energy Vision Future: For a lower cost than our leading competitors and with minimal construction impact to the region’s residents, businesses and agricultural lands, LPW plan best solves the issue of modernizing and decongesting the state’s transmission system while providing a strong foundation for a REV-based future.
4. Add Capacity Between Upstate and Downstate NY: Boundless will increase transmission capability across the important UPNY – SENY interface by more than 1,000 MW. Using this same innovative technology on the lines going west to east can improve capacity for the Central East interface as well.
5. Provide for the Elimination of the Hudson Valley’s New Capacity Zone: By delivering the needed capacity for the region, there will no longer be a rationale for an NCZ in the Hudson Valley, and no need to continue passing that cost on to consumers.
6. Promote System Balance: LPW ties the electric grid on the west side of the Hudson to the east side. This is potentially a strategic connection for grid flexibility and resiliency.
The key to solving each of these energy needs is the use of better technology. The Boundless project will replace aging, out of date conductors with new technology conductors on existing towers. Only Boundless Energy will use ACCC conductor, which provides substantial long-term advantages for the Leeds Path West project over the competition. These benefits include:
- ACCC sags far less than does its competition. This means that towers do not have to be increased in height if ACCC is used, as they will in many cases for the NYTO’s choice of conductor.
- The Boundless reconductoring project will stay within the right-of-way envelope, with no ROW widening, no increased tower height, and no increases of tower density on a towers-per-mile basis.
- The weight of ACCC is substantially less than ACSS, which means fewer tower modifications will be required to meet current ice loading standards.
- While the industry standard warranty is one year, ACCC conductor is delivered with a three-year warranty that can be extended to ten years for an additional cost.
- With more than 325 projects worldwide and more than 22,000 miles of ACCC conductor in service, to date no warranty claims have ever been filed on ACCC conductor or its ancillary hardware including dead-ends and splices.
- ACCC is more energy efficient in use. More energy is actually delivered to the load rather than being lost in the heat radiated from the power lines along the way. For the combined Leeds to Pleasant Valley power lines this benefit is roughly 118 MW of generation that will not be required – each and every year – for the next 40 to 50 years.
The benefit of not having to build additional generation at a high capital cost is substantial. The environmental benefits of reduced CO2 and lowered direct contribution to climate change are equally important. These benefits will increase in dollar value as the prices of fuels increase substantially, as they inevitably will, over the next five decades. This is a positive legacy that will directly benefit our grandchildren, great-grandchildren and generations to come. The Boundless Energy Leeds Path West project, with its use of innovative technology, is the clear choice for New York by any objective standard.
Posted on Tue, September 1, 2015
by Rod Lenfest