An energy company that claims its proposal would have rendered the least environmental impact for a transmission line project has appealed a New York State Public Service Commission decision denying a request for rehearing. The company has gone to state supreme court with the matter.
Boundless Energy NE was one of four companies that had submitted proposals to the Public Service Commission in 2015, as part of submissions for the state’s long-term energy highway vision. The companies want to build new high-voltage power lines primarily to carry electricity from upstate to feed the power hungry downstate energy markets of New York City and the lower Hudson Valley. The idea is to reduce grid congestion and allow lower-cost electricity and renewable electricity to penetrate the downstate market.
In a December order, the PSC voted to advance the Alternating Current Transmission Proceeding, or proposals for 156 miles of high-voltage transmission lines to a competitive process to be managed by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). The order limited the new transmission lines to replacement and upgrading of existing lines within existing rights-of-way, and added new substation facilities at several locations. Rod Lenfest is president of Boundless Energy, who says his company’s proposal is not on the table.
“Right now it is not one of the projects that have been sent to the NYISO, the New York Independent System Operator. So, from that standpoint, it is not on the table,” says Lenfest. “However, we believe it should be.”
As such, Boundless Energy has petitioned the New York State Supreme Court, seeking to annul final orders from the PSC in December 2015. Boundless Energy takes issue with the PSC for dismissing a request for a rehearing.
“We would hope that the, it would be seen that some errors had been made in the process and that the PSC would simply correctly identify a public policy need. And, from there, we would be very happy to participate in the competitive process,” says Lenfest. “We just don’t think that it has been, that we have been fairly dealt with. And we really don’t think that this is in the best interest of the taxpayers and the ratepayers of New York.
A PSC spokesman declined to comment, saying the commission does not comment on litigation. However, part of the February 23 PSC order concerning Boundless Energy calls Boundless Energy’s characterizations baseless, like the following, where Lenfest alleges PSC process is one of parameters over policy.
“In essence what they have done is put together a technical specification that says what the technology should be, in what corridors it should be, at what voltages it should be, rather than simply saying here’s what the needs of our state are, now and in the future.
John Maserjian is spokesman for the New York Transmission Owners, or NY TRANSCO, which includes Central Hudson, Con Edison, and others. A proposal from NY TRANSCO is preferred and Maserjian says it will be submitted to the NYISO by the deadline.
“The project that we had submitted was identified by the Public Service Commission as the one they would like other developers to make proposals on,” says Maserjian. “So it is, in fact, the project that replaces aging transmission infrastructure with new transmission facilities that would, in fact, reduce the footprint within the existing right-of-way and increase power-transfer capability within that corridor.”
And Maserjian believe the process has been equitable.
“The process for this entire project has gone fairly smoothly, we think. We’re supportive of the process as it’s unfolded so far,” Maserjian says. “The Public Service Commission has identified a public policy need for transmission development for a variety of reasons, including reducing transmission congestion, allowing renewable energy to flow more freely from western New York into eastern and southern New York, promoting job growth both in upstate New York and downstate New York.”
The New York System Independent Operator deadline for proposals is April 29.