1,000 Miles of New Power Lines: Cost of Renewables to NY

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


New York electric rates are already high and will soar in the future to pay the high cost of renewables and the 1,000 new miles of power lines they require.

It’s no secret most renewables are both cost and energy inefficient. Dick Downey recently explained (yet again) how emulating the German Engeriewende would impoverish more and more New Yorkers. The real cost of renewables and Andrew Cuomo’s plan to avoid natural gas and close Indian Point with them, though, is seldom talked about. It’s the 1,000 miles of new power lines that will be required to deliver the power they generate. There’s also the redundant dispatchable power required from somewhere to back up the power renewables do deliver. The economic costs will be completely unaffordable by New Yorkers of all stripes, not to mention the environmental impact of 1,000 miles of new power lines.

0718-powerlines cost of renewables

Marcy South power line in New York – Let’s have another 1,000 miles!

Skeptical readers are no doubt wondering where I’m getting this crazy 1,000 miles of new power lines, but I didn’t invent it. It comes from a letter written six months ago, by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) — the operator of New York State’s electrical grid — to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), the state’s utility regulator. The subject is Andrew Cuomo’s plan to “Implement a Large-Scale Renewable Program and a Clean Energy Standard.”

The letter is written in bureaucratic and technical gobbledygook designed to obscure the message so it doesn’t get widely reported. The PSC, which is firmly under Andrew Cuomo’s control, surely got it, but don’t expect them to do anything about. Their job is to sit there and do what they’re told, and NYISO doesn’t want to ruffle too many feathers either, but they do want to be firmly established, for the record, as the folks who told us.

Here are the money paragraphs from the 16-page letter (emphasis added):

In order to maximize the yearly average load served by renewable generation, cross-state energy transfers will actually increase as load decreases due to the fact that more renewable generation is available to serve the downstate load. As renewable penetration in the upstate regions outweighs the load in those same regions, additional energy transfers from upstate renewable resources to downstate load centers are necessary, subject to the transmission system capability. A lower total system load allows a higher percentage of load to be served by renewable resources. Curtailment of renewable generation to maintain transmission system reliability, consistent with the NYISO’s 2010 Wind Study finding, would quickly jeopardize achievement of 50% by 30 because energy will not be deliverable from renewable resources to downstate load centers.

cost of renewables

The anticipated renewable generation development and cross-state energy transfer increases are significant compared to the existing system flows. Transmission system constraints already materialize at a number of interfaces in the west to east and north to south directions across the State during certain system conditions. Additional renewable resources built in the western and northern portions of the State will exacerbate the transmission constraints that limit energy transfers across the State. The NYISO has begun analyzing potential new transmission facilities to help accommodate additional renewable resource build-out throughout western and northern New York. Based on the volume of new renewable generation resources and the locations for build-out projected in the DPS SEIS, the NYISO estimates that one likely transmission development scenario could require nearly 1,000 miles of new bulk power transmission, in addition to the AC Transmission and Western New York public policy initiatives now underway, to avoid frequent west to east transmission constraints in the future.

Those of around for previous debates over new power lines to serve New York City know how controversial these big ugly projects are compared to pipelines that are seldom noticed after being built. They generate almost imaginable fury from transplanted New Yorkers who imagine the view from their second and/or retirement homes will be marred.

And, there’s the cost, of course. Put aside the redundant dispatchable power needed when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. That cost alone is totally unaffordable and unnecessary, but now add between $400,000 and $500,000 per mile for new overhead power lines, not to mention all the related costs for sub-transmission lines and environmental impacts and we’re easily talking $500 million of additional expense on ratepayers and probably a whole lot more, not including annual operational costs. The cost of renewables is high indeed for New Yorkers.

milan-corridor-2_mathison cost of renewables

Combine this with the redundant power and the inherent inefficiency of most renewables systems (NYISO says wind power is 86% unavailable during pear hours) and we’ll see electrical rates that skyrocket to the moon. Especially hard hit will be downstate ratepayers who already pay some of the highest rates in the nation. This is the cost of renewables Andrew Cuomo proposes to impose on his constituents. NYISO, though, has covered its posterior:

Given the potential gravity and magnitude of the CES-related transmission additions, the NYISO believes it would be prudent for the Commission to study this question in depth before taking any final action to implement the 50% by 30 initiative.

That’s code language for “It’s all on you, Governor. We told you. You could have just used natural gas and avoided all this.”


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10 thoughts on “1,000 Miles of New Power Lines: Cost of Renewables to NY

  1. It’s become abundantly clear that the NYC pols plan is to stick it to upstate twice- destroy minerals value and force the siting of their wind and solar on us, at three times the cost.

    • Back in the 70’s there was this TV movie called “OHMS”
      OHMS (TV Movie 1980) – IMDb In a nutshell it was about a rural community that fights this big massive Electric Co from putting a swath of power lines through a community much like the real life protests that happened with NYRI about 10 years ago. Now imagine this happening in downstate NY. As mentioned before, without NYRI or any other environmentally intrusive infrastructure through Downstate, say Westchester County? After all, what generation facility is going to make up for the 2000 Megawatts emitted from ConEd’s Indian Point? Where will they be? Will they actually change the legislation that allows Municipal Waste Water Treatment Plants produce electricity on site and placed back into the grid? While it make some sense to do this, what is the collective reliability of plugging these units in? Will Cuomo’s minions also protest against the need to upgrade the existing infrastructure, which may require the need to take private property? Perhaps municipalities like Scarsdale, Bedford, Rye Brook, etc will have to feel the pain or have to deal with the environmental and health impacts of wind turbines and solar panels in their own back yards??? Even the highly toted “Champlain-Hudson Power Express” is not without controversy. http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2015/04/hudson-river-power-line-project-faces-challenges-021083
      Points to ponder.

      • This kind of thing is driving the re-powering with Natural Gas of the Greenidge power plant at Dresden, NY — a former coal-fired plant. But it required a new 3-1/2 mile natural gas line to get them enough gas-fuel, and the anti-carbon folks based in Ithaca came out to decry that and try to block it. Some anti-nut even walked the route and pulled out all the survey stakes, as a hindrance to the project!

        In addition to Natural Gas, the owner of the project is making it a multi-fuel boiler, also burning “untreated wood, waste wood product from a furniture manufacturer, #2 fuel oil, diesel oil, waste oil”.

        See more info at for instance:

        • Perhaps the owner of rhe plant ahould look into the inclusion of invasive plant species as a potential feedstock as well. This would give incentive to both public and private entities to harvest the invasives and be replaced with native species. A win-win-win for all parties.

      • I forgot to mention that the Yates County pols are happy to have the jobs back that it takes to run that plant.

        I should also note that Schuyler County did NOT oppose that job-creation project which would definitely “pollute” Seneca Lake with heat, whereas Yates County had the gall to register opposition to the proposed LPG-Storage in Schuyler County, where DEC determined no credible impact.

  2. Seems like I saw that Indian Point makes power for 3.7 c/kWh — quite cheap, when you consider it is marked-up to be sold in NYC for 20 or 25 c/kWh. That is, it is cheap until you have so much excess hydro power at 2 c/kWh that you don’t need it at all. It is actually the out-migration of Upstaters and Upstate Manufacturing that is apparently driving the big picture on power here,

  3. Folks,

    If my arithmetic is correct the “… between $400,000 and $500,000 per mile for new overhead power lines….” translates, for the households of NY, to $1.85 per year for the 30 year life of the 1000 miles of lines.

    This is less then the cost of one cup of coffee, and on a monthly basis is an almost trivial $0.15.

    And the recent posting by Mr. Downey
    ashttps://naturalgasnow.org/new-yorks-renewable-plan-will-create-energy-poor/ that you assert shows how renewables would impoverish more and more New Yorkers is simply wrong (see my comments to that post).

    In fact the increased costs to households of the NY Clean Energy Standard, according the the non-partisan Empire Center http://www.empirecenter.org/publications/green-overload/ (Table 1) would be a modest $2-3 per month, well within the historical envelope of energy costs increases

    So, in total we are talking of the increased costs of energy and transmission of $2.25 to $3.15 a month. Still about the cost of one cup of coffee each month.

    The polls that show that renewable energy is well liked and the more than 10,000 solar installations in NY mean that the market has spoken. We know what it has said: “we like renewables, give us more.”

    • You cherry-picked that Empire Center report, Stan, and ignored the overall conclusion which is par for the fractivist course.

  4. Stan Scobie is seemingly well educated. Like most anti fossil fuel agitators he simply just does not get it. Trampling on mathematics in the debate is par for the anti course. Instead of coming to natural gas now for our nation and learning anything from any of the thousands of well written post, Scobie simply trades fact for fiction like he did when I and others shut him down in the town of Binghamton as he stood on stage presenting fear and lies in 2010. Scobie instead of using his education to legitimize his opinions, made it a tool to deprive people from the truth.

  5. Scobie is but another shill and hack for the Park Foundation and others. He must be aware of what is going on in Germany where CO2 emissions have actually gone up since the huge effort into wind and solar has occurred there and the cost per kwh has skyrocketed. Scobie also ignores the inherent intermittent nature of wind and solar. I had a 5,000 watt photovoltaic array put on my roof on 2008 and know first hand what these things do by observing the LCD display of my Fronius inverter. When a cloud blocks the direct sunlight. the output is attenuated at least 80% and this stay like this until the cloud passes. On a full day of clouds, I can power a few 100 watt light bulbs. At night the output = 0 as well as when it is snow covered. Stan should stop the BS and trying to impress folks with his “knowledge”. It is worth noting that he has never mentioned that he has an array, thus it can be safely assumed that he is but another of the profound number of useful idiots who continue to dictate to the rest of us how to live our lives. It will be many generations, if ever, before renewables ever displace nuclear or fossil fuels which are available to us 24/7/365.


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