More than 60 years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower outlined plans to build an interstate highway system to connect the far reaches of the country. Now, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, D-N.Y., envisions a highway of a different sort - this one related to energy infrastructure.
Among the broad range of topics covered by Cuomo in his annual State of the State address, the governor outlined a proposal to bolster the state's energy infrastructure, particularly a transmission system that would take power from the north and bring it downstate to serve the higher load.
"We have an excess of generation capacity and tremendous wind power potential in upstate and western New York, and north of the border in Quebec. We have tremendous energy needs downstate," Cuomo explained. "Just as we built the New York State Thruway to unite distant parts of the state, we will develop an energy highway system that will bring excess fossil-fuel energy from western New York downstate, and also tap into upstate’s potential for renewable energy, like wind power. Just like we built the Northway, we will develop an energy expressway down from Quebec."
The idea behind the plan, Coumo said, is to help preserve western New York’s current allocation of low-cost hydropower while, at the same time, addressing the energy needs downstate.
New York will issue a request for proposals to help ensure the changes happen, and private companies will finance and build $2 billion in infrastructure to complete the system and build the capacity to supply New Yorkers, Cuomo said.
During his address, Cuomo also invoked the return of Article X, the siting law intended to fast-track renewable energy projects.
"The permanent Article X energy siting law we passed last year will be a critical tool to help with meeting our energy needs and protecting our environment in this effort," Cuomo said. "Not only will it fast-track much-needed energy generation projects, but it will also be a model for including some of the strongest environmental protection regulations in the nation."
Cuomo’s speech was warmly received by industry insiders.
"The governor’s goal of upgrading and improving our transmission infrastructure is a necessary investment and will allow New York to further develop its renewable resources," said Carol E. Murphy, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, in a statement. "Reshaping New York’s current energy portfolio will require a significant increase in renewable resources like wind and solar, as well as continued progress in reducing overall energy consumption."