The New York Power Authority and New York State Electric & Gas announced the completion of a $120m transmission project that will enable more electricity from renewable sources to flow from upstate to meet energy demand in more-populated downstate regions without having to build new power lines.
The project, known as the Marcy South Series Compensation Project, is also a cornerstone of the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to build an energy system that is more efficient, resilient and affordable for all New Yorkers. A key goal of REV and New York State is ensuring 50 percent of all electricity used in the state come from renewable sources by 2030.
“The power grid is in the midst of a digital revolution that is dramatically transforming how we provide electricity statewide,” said Richard Kauffman, Chair of Energy and Finance, Office of the Governor “Marcy South is a prime example of how we can do more with existing assets. Not only is it more efficient, this approach will ultimately save electric ratepayers money.”
The Marcy South project, a joint venture of NYPA and NYSEG, is expected to provide up to 440 megawatts of additional transmission capacity, enough to power more than 400,000 homes. It will help relieve transmission congestion, or bottlenecks, that affect the ability to deliver surplus upstate electricity — from predominantly cleaner renewable sources such as wind and hydropower — to the downstate region, which accounts for the majority of the state’s energy use.
The project involves the installation of three capacitor banks — small facilities each about 30 feet wide, 60 feet long and two stories high, which contain equipment that offers greater control of power movement. Series capacitors raise voltage and keep it at a constant level, which enhances transmission efficiency. Two capacitor banks were installed by NYPA, the other by NYSEG.
They are the first series capacitor banks to be installed in New York State. The project is estimated to increase power flow on parallel 345 kV transmission lines by as much as 440 megawatts (MW), about the capacity of a medium-sized power plant (one MW is enough to power 800 to 1,000 typical homes). The capacitors will enable operators to have more awareness of transmission conditions so power can be dispatched more effectively to areas where it’s needed most.
“We cannot overstate the value of the technology that we’re installing to bolster the reliability and flexibility of New York State’s transmission system,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “These improvements will allow inexpensive, clean power to travel the state’s energy highway more efficiently and make the power grid more robust.”
“We are pleased to be working with NYPA on this innovative project that uses significant upgrades to existing transmission facilities to help make the state’s electric grid more robust to better meet customer needs and expectations,” said Mark S. Lynch, president and CEO of NYSEG and RG&E. “Further, it illustrates how utilities working together can deliver benefits to both the upstate and downstate regions and, at the same time, minimize visual and land-use impacts to the fullest extent possible.”
NYSEG plans to transfer its $61 million portion of the Marcy South project — NYPA spent $59 million–to New York Transco, a public-private partnership of investor-owned utilities in New York, at a future date. New York Transco is building a portfolio of interconnected transmission lines and substations. That project will help fulfill the objectives of the Governor’s Energy Highway initiative, which includes modernizing the State’s energy infrastructure in anticipation of possible future electric reliability concerns due to increased demand and the retirement of aging power plants.
All three series capacitors will be located at the NYSEG Fraser substation in Delhi, Delaware County. NYPA’s capacitor banks will support 135 miles of lines that run from the town of Marcy in Oneida County, outside of Utica, to the town of Rockland, Sullivan County. This area has been identified as a bottleneck that impedes power flow to high-demand areas like New York City, Long Island and Westchester County.
The project, which began in late 2015, also involved replacing about 22 miles of conductors and upgrading some structures on NYSEG’s portion of the Marcy South transmission line.
“The Marcy-South project is an example of how technology can be used to increase the efficiency of existing transmission assets,” said Mike Howard, president and CEO of the Electric Power Research Institute. “This type of integration of new digital technologies will be the cornerstone of grid operations of the future.”
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joseph Griffo said, “The Marcy South Series Compensation Project is consistent with the kind of upgrades to the State’s energy highway that we’ve been waiting for, so this is a welcome project to improve our in-state transmission and power-generation efficiency. There is much need to modernize New York’s energy infrastructure to ensure that our generating facilities can provide communities with a clean, reliable and affordable supply of power, so I’m glad to see that this project has been completed.”
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said, “If New York State is to remain the Empire State, it must have a safe, reliable and up to date electric power transmission system. This project will achieve that goal, without requiring the construction of new power lines. New Yorkers will benefit from this project to bring power from the Mohawk Valley and other upstate regions to downstate customers, who have long suffered from an inadequate power grid.”
Oneida County Executive and NYPA Trustee Anthony Picente, Jr. said, “NYPA’s Clark Energy Center in my county will serve as a hub for the operations of this project. As a NYPA trustee, I am gratified to see the Power Authority take a leadership role in providing greater access to renewable energy as well as demonstrating to the utility industry an innovative use of this remarkable technology.”