Assembly Committees Convene Hearing on Hudson Transmission Power Project

May 20, 2011

New York City – Today three Assembly Committees convened a public hearing to examine a proposal to link New York City's power grid to New Jersey's via a seven mile long cable under the Hudson River, which would connect the New York Power Authority's New York City municipal customers to the PJM Interconnection. The hearing examined the need for additional out of state electric resources, alternative investments in New York City and the State, and the potential economic and environmental impacts of the proposed transmission line.

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D- Ulster, Dutchess), Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee and vocal opponent of the line, said, “This scheme will force the State and the City to subsidize an uneconomic transmission line that will only increase pollution generated by the toxic coal fired power plants that make up a bulk of the electricity produced in PJM. Any increase in emissions would likely contribute to further non-attainment, which in turn will significantly increase the costs New Yorkers will be forced to bear in order to ensure air quality meets federal standards. The Power Authority’s limited resources would be better spent on upgrading New York’s aging infrastructure.”

“I am concerned that the economics of this contract are not beneficial to the metropolitan area for decades forcing the Power Authority to cannibalize its resources,” said Assemblymember James Brennan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.

"Many serious questions and concerns have yet to be addressed on this proposal. There needs to be a clear benefit to the people of New York before we commit to this project," said Assemblyman Carl Heastie, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Cities.

The Assembly Energy Committee, Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee and Cities Committee heard testimony from representatives of the New York Power Authority, New York State Public Service Commission, New York Independent System Operator, Hudson Transmission Partners and Sierra Club.

The Assemblymembers questioned the need for the transmission line, first proposed in 2006, given the New York Independent System Operator’s assessment that New York City will not need additional electricity resources until 2020. They focused on the opportunity to invest in New York State infrastructure, and the ancillary job and revenue benefits that would result from the Power Authority’s attention to the State’s needs. Additionally, the members cited the Department of Environmental Conservation’s assessment that the power line would threaten New York’s air quality and increase compliance costs to meet federal nonattainment standards.

PJM Interconnection is the organization responsible for managing the wholesale electric grid for 13 states and the District of Columbia. The PJM territory has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a source of the emissions that have resulted in the greater metropolitan region’s designation as a non-attainment zone for particulate matter and ozone. Modeling by the Department of Environmental Conservation has led its Director of the Bureau of Air Quality and Planning to conclude that the emissions resulting from the proposed transmission line would be equal to those produced by nearly two 660 megawatt coal plants. In one of his first actions since taking office Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that he has taken action to sue a major Pennsylvania electric power plant, part of the PJM system, over multiple violations of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) at the facility.