Campaigns & Cases > Protect River Ecology > Empire Connection Power Line

Empire Connection Power Line

Conjunction LLC, a newly formed electric transmission company has applied to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for certification to construct the Empire Connection, a 140-mile transmission line capable of carrying approximately 2,000 megawatts of electricity from Canadian and upstate “clean power producers” to Westchester County and NYC. The company proposes to install two direct current power lines in conduits along the NY State Thruway and the Hudson River from New Scotland, just north of Albany, to Con Edison facilities in New York City at a projected cost of about $750 million.

Riverkeeper, along with NRDC, came out with an early endorsement of the project, recognizing that the potential net energy and environmental benefits of the project for the state of New York are enormous. If built, the Empire Connection lines will bring a reliable and inexpensive source of energy for the New York metro area while posing few environmental impacts and substantial environmental benefits, including the potential to displace not only the unpopular and dangerous Indian Point nuclear facility but several other fish-killing and air polluting plants that line the shores of the Hudson (i.e., Danskammer and Roseton in Orange County and Lovett and Bowline in Rockland).

Initially, the Empire Connection project met some opposition from a number of the Hudson Valley’s leading environmental and historic preservation groups, including Riverkeeper, primarily on account of the company’s original plans to site the lines on elevated 80-foot towers along the Hudson River. However, the developer scrapped plans to build elevated lines along the Hudson after Riverkeeper suggested running the lines down the 87 Thruway instead. Since then, the developer has worked assiduously and successfully to address other potential impacts affecting specific communities along the route of the transmission lines.

One environmental issue that is as yet unresolved is the proposal to build a converter station at Spuyten Duyvil triangle – a component of the project that was not in the original plans and which Riverkeeper, along with local activists and officials from Riverdale, oppose. While Riverkeeper objects to Conjunction’s present plans at the Riverdale site given the site’s ecological, historic and scenic significance, we continue to support Conjunction’s proposed Empire Connection transmission project with the full expectation that another, more suitable site, will be found for the converter station.

Though we continue to work constructively with the developer, Riverkeeper has intervened as an interested party in the State’s Administrative Review of Conjunction’s Article VII application, to ensure that environmental impacts are thoroughly reviewed.

To date, Conjunction has failed to secure financing for the project. The post-Enron energy deregulation framework has failed to stimulate and support new transmission and generation projects nationwide.

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