Champlain Hudson Power Express

What is the Champlain Hudson Power Express?

Hudson River image

Hudson River

The project is a 330 mile, 1,000-megawatt (MW) underwater and underground transmission line originating at the U.S.-Canadian border in Vermont, traveling under Lake Champlain and the Hudson River and terminating in New York City. The project is designed to help the New York metro area meet its ambitious clean energy goals. In addition, the energy will be derived from carbon-free wind and hydro power generated sources.

The submitted proposal call for two, 5-inch diameter cables to be placed underwater or underground. The submarine portions of the preferred route include Lake Champlain and the Hudson River between Albany and Manhattan. Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and last for three and a half years.

The $2 billion project would be one of the largest investments in New York State history, and could create 300 to 600 direct jobs and an average of more than 1200 indirect and induced jobs during the construction period. It is intended to deliver clean power to meet growing demands, increase the security of the State’s electric grid, reduce emissions and lower energy costs for consumers.

What are the benefits of the Champlain Hudson Power Express?

According to estimates, the project could generate in excess of $20 million a year in tax revenue to areas where the line is buried along railroad tracks and public roads. Taxpayers in Washington, Saratoga, Albany, Schenectady, Greene, and Rockland counties, as well as the City of New York will receive yearly tax benefits from the CHPE. In addition, a one-time payment will be made to the State of New York for easements once the project is completed.

According to prior studies by London Economics, once the Champlain Hudson Power Express is operational, it’s expected to reduce electricity costs by more than $650 million a year in New York state.

What is the Route of the CHPE?

The proposed route is approximately 335 miles (539 km) from the Canada-U.S. border to its southern terminus in New York City. Two 5-inch (127 mm) cables would be buried at varying depths of 3 feet (91 cm) under Lake Champlain and the Hudson, Harlem, and East Rivers.

The cables would cross the border under Lake Champlain and would continue southward to Dresden north of Whitehall, New York. On its way to the Hudson, the cables would be routed briefly taken along State Route 22 and then parallel the Delaware & Hudson Railroad right-of-way to Rotterdam, at which point it accesses the right-of-way of CSX Transportation, continuing southwards until it enters the Hudson River in the Town of Catskill.

Once in the Hudson River, the cables continue south to Stony Point, where the CSX right-of-way is used again until the cables re-enter the Hudson in Clarkstown. They next make landfall in the Harlem River Rail Yard in the Bronx, cross the East River to Queens, and end at a converter station  in Astoria.

What about Environmental Concerns with the CHPE?

Power line

CHPE states this is a very safe project. The HVdc cables that will be used for this project are solid, are made from non flammable materials, are well insulated and do not contain liquids or gels. The HVdc converter stations are solid state and contain no flammable fuel, as compared with thermal generation stations. Electrical protection systems within the HVdc converter stations will isolate any fault, in a small fraction of a second to minimize the possibility of damage.

Placing these cables, which are only five inches in diameter, underwater and underground is intended be minimally invasive to the surrounding environment and to preserve natural views. The cable is solid state and compact, further minimizing risks to the environment. If the cable is damaged, HVdc protection is designed to reduce the current and voltage to zero in a fraction of a second so there is no possibility of damage to persons, fish, or any nearby infrastructure.

The cables will be buried well below the bottom of the waterways to protect against an anchor or fishing equipment snagging the cable. In the unlikely event that the cable is snagged, given the weight of the cable, the boat that has snagged the cable will immediately know that it is attached to a major subsurface feature. There will be both fiber optic thermal and communications protection on the equipment that will detect this “snag” as well as fault protection equipment at both converter stations to clear any fault very quickly. The cable protection equipment is designed to shut down operation in order to protect life and equipment in the very unlikely event that the cable becomes damaged by external equipment.

To avoid environmentally sensitive areas such as the PCB clean-up site in the Hudson River, the line will be taken out of the Champlain Canal North of Fort Edward and buried along Canadian Pacific and CSX rail right of ways for 73 miles The line will also exit the Hudson and be buried underground for seven miles to bypass Haverstraw Bay.

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