The future of New York's transmission grid is at a crossroads, and there is an opportunity to make strategic, cost-effective investments that will provide numerous benefits for the state over the next several decades, New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) President and CEO Stephen G. Whitley said at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's New York Energy Highway Summit.
‘We must decide if we simply replace aging facilities 'as is' and continue to operate the system within its current limits, or if we make cost-effective, incremental upgrades and additions to improve statewide reliability,’ Whitley said.
In his remarks during the summit's Setting the Stage for Successful Investment panel, Whitley noted that a robust transmission system is critical for system reliability and that addressing statewide transmission constraints will enhance New York's competitive wholesale electricity market.
"Today, New York has a statewide surplus of electric energy, but we are limited in our ability to transmit that electricity from areas of surplus to areas of need," Whitley said. "The congested transmission system has led to significant price disparity for wholesale electricity across the state, hinders the ability of generation owners in the northern and western parts of the state to sell their power to areas of need during peak-demand periods, limits the growth of renewable resources and frustrates our ability to fully realize the advantages of the diverse generation options we have in New York."
"Carefully selected transmission projects provide what I view as "no regret' additions to the electricity infrastructure of the Empire State," Whitley added. "Transmission investments made today will provide value for the next 50 years and should be viewed from that long-range perspective. These projects will enhance both the reliability of the grid and our competitive markets, as more power can flow from western New York through the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys to New York City and Long Island."
Renewable energy growth
Whitley noted that New York has witnessed significant growth in the development of renewable energy resources in the northern and western regions of the state and that there is potential for future growth and expansion.
"An energy highway will help deliver these resources to some of the largest load centers in the United States – New York City and Long Island," he said.
Whitley also pointed out that considerable lead time is required for power infrastructure project execution. While electrons can move instantaneously, it takes years to permit, finance, build and commission the lines that carry those electrons, he noted.
"The Energy Highway initiative, combined with last year's Power NY law to address new generation siting, are clear signals that New York state is focused on building a brighter future for electricity consumers in New York," Whitley concluded.