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Governor Hochul Announces Milestone in "Smart Path" Clean Energy Initiative in the North Country

16 Nov 2021

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the halfway mark milestone in the construction of the New York Power Authority's Smart Path transmission project in the North Country. The Smart Path project is an upgrade of 78 miles of transmission lines which span from Massena in St. Lawrence County to Croghan in Lewis County. With fewer poles made out of steel, the project will harden the lines against weather events and enable the secure transmission of clean energy from northern New York into the state's electric power grid. The project will strengthen the grid and help advance New York's clean energy goals, as outlined in the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Construction on Smart Path upgrades began in early 2020 and are on track to be completed in 2023, despite challenges posed by COVID-19. 

"Our state boasts a generous supply of clean hydropower, and transmission lines like the Smart Path project will help us meet our clean energy goals and combat the effects of climate change," Governor Hochul said. "We are working to make these lines reliable and resilient, so that once we have all the clean power we need, we have a way to deliver it safely and cost-effectively to the areas across the state that need it - while creating family-sustaining, clean energy jobs for New Yorkers in the process."  

The celebration of these Smart Path milestones follows Governor Hochul's Climate Week announcement of the selection of two new major transmission line projects to help transport clean energy to New York City, including Clean Path New York, developed by Forward Power (a joint venture of Invenergy and EnergyRe) and the New York Power Authority and the Champlain Hudson Express Transmission Project. If approved by the Public Service Commission, these transmission projects will help advance New York's goal of obtaining 70% of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and realizing a zero-emission energy grid by 2040.

The New York Power Authority is also working with National Grid on a separate but connected transmission project involving the rebuild of approximately 100 miles of transmission lines in the North Country and the Mohawk Valley. The project -known as Smart Path Connect- runs East-West from Clinton to Massena and North-South from Croghan to Marcy. When completed, the two segments of Smart Path Connect will join the Smart Path project, creating one continuous upgraded transmission line from Clinton to Marcy. The Smart Path Connect project is currently under environmental review with the New York Public Service Commission.

Phase one of the Smart Path project involves rebuilding approximately 78 miles of the total 86-mile transmission artery that was constructed originally by the federal government in 1942. Phase two of the Smart Path project will be completed as part of the Smart Path Connect project and will upgrade an additional six miles of 230kV transmission lines to 345kV. The Smart Path line was the first asset acquired by the Power Authority in 1950. Running north to south through St. Lawrence and Lewis counties in the North Country, the newly rebuilt lines will connect economical, clean and renewable energy into the statewide power system, including low-cost hydropower from NYPA's St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project as well as power from newly constructed renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

Construction involves the replacement of the original H-frame wood poles, some of which are more than 80 years old with single steel monopoles in the existing right of way. The project, which includes high-voltage transmission lines from Massena to Croghan, has created hundreds of jobs during construction.

The rebuilt lines will be capable of transmitting up to 345 kilovolts (kV). They will be operated in the near-term at the 230 kV level until the completion of the Smart Path Connect project. Together the lines are currently rated to carry 900 megawatts during the winter months--enough clean electricity to power up to 900,000 averaged-sized homes. This ability to increase the voltage when the demand requires it is a cost-effective way to add on more renewable power, especially from in-state renewable generation, anywhere along the transmission line, as New York continues to advance its clean energy goals.