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The Maple Ridge wind farm in Lewis County. Photo: David Chanatry
The Maple Ridge wind farm in Lewis County. Photo: David Chanatry

Cuomo wants $2 billion to modernize power corridor to North Country, Quebec

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Governor Cuomo's agenda for the coming year includes more than $20 billion for capital projects aimed at boosting the state's infrastructure.

One of the big ticket items is a $2 billion plan to develop new high tech utility lines designed to feed electricity from producers in the North Country and Quebec to consumers downstate. Brian Mann reports.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Governor Cuomo said the expansion of next generation power lines into northern New York could revolutionize the region’s economy the same way that the Northway did in the 1960s.

"We have supply of power in northern New York and Quebec.  We have tremendous need for power in downstate New York.  Let's connect the dots."

In theory, new smart grid technology could allow a more rapid expansion of the North Country’s wind and hydro industries.  Here’s state Senator Betty Little.

"I've heard for a number of yeras that the grid that comes down from the NOrth Country is just not large en ough and strong enough.  We need that infrastructrure improvement.  You can't really continue to grow the wind farms in our area because we can't carry and transmit the power."

The Regional Economic Development plan for the North Country also calls for future development of energy plants that operate using biomass.  It’s unclear whether those facilities would produce enough power for export.

There is already one big power interconnect project underway.  A company called TDI based in Toronto, Canada, has been seeking permission from state and Federal authorities to lay an electric cable down the bed of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River.  They hope to begin construction by 2014.

One wrinkle is that the recession and the weak economy have actually reduced power demand and brought lower electric rates.  But TDI CEO, Donald Jessome, says these projects still make sense long-term.

"These are 50 year plus projects, so you have to have a long-term view in energy infrastructure.  We've still very confident."

Jessome’s power line won’t serve the North Country power generators.  It’s designed to feed electricity from Quebec directly to New York City.  Jessome says he’s not sure whether his Lake Champlain project will benefit from the governor’s initiative.

"We're certainly encouraged by what we heard today in the governor's speech," he said.

If approved, the TDI cable would be laid underwater.  If parts of the new power corridor go overland, the route and location of cables and towers would likely face close scrutiny and debate.

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