New power line upgrades aim to bring surplus upstate power downstate

Jun 15, 2016

New York officials have long sought a way to take excess energy that's produced in upstate power plants and ship it downstate where the consumer demand is far greater. Downstate consumes 60 percent of the state's energy according to the New York Power Authority (NYPA), but much of the power is produced upstate. Rather than build more transmission lines to link the two regions, NYPA has invested in a project that boosts the existing power infrastructure.

At the Clark Energy Center in Marcy, Oneida County Tuesday, NYPA President Gil Quiniones announced the completion of three new capacitor banks that he explained will increase the power flow between Oneida Sullivan counties.

"It is like expanding the neck of a funnel and enhancing the flowing of electricity from upstate to downstate," Quiniones said.

He said the $120 million project was cheaper and faster to build than adding power lines or plants. Officials say it's expected to transmit enough energy to power 400,000 homes. Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente praised the project, saying it does not come with the typical costs of a power infrastructure improvement.

"You know, neighborhoods disrupted and different power plants all throughout the state -- I think that the smart way of providing energy and expanding energy is by using what you have." Picente said. 

Quiniones said opening more of the downstate market to upstate power could benefit new renewable power resources as they come online. But, he said it will likely not solve the financial difficulties for upstate nuclear power plants, which have been suffering losses from the upstate-downstate bottle neck and competition from cheap natural gas.