TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – State officials know that a recovering economy will increase demands on the electrical power grid.
“It is especially critical that we address these problems of aging and generation transmissions, because dependable energy infrastructure is absolutely essential to economic growth,” Gil C. Quiniones said. Quiniones is president and CEO of the New York Power Authority and a co-chair of the Energy Highway Task Force.
About 300 people gathered at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tarrytown on Thursday to learn about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to improve the state electrical power system through a public-private partnership. The “Energy Highway” was part of Cuomo's 2012 State of the State address.
“Building a new energy highway for New York State will not only create thousands of jobs, but lay a new foundation for future economic growth,” Cuomo said in a press release. “If we want to truly make New York open for the businesses of tomorrow, we cannot rely on the power supply of yesterday.”
Cuomo and other state energy officials say new energy infrastructure is essential, especially transferring excess electrical power from upstate to downstate New York.
“We face a situation in which excess energy is available upstate while the greatest demand is here downstate,” Quiniones said.
The Energy Highway would include rebuilding and upgrading large sections of the state's transmission system, Quiniones said, especially as the state faces “growing uncertainties” for several of its power plants because of federal and environmental regulations.
Quiniones said Thursday that the state hopes new transmission lines can be built in existing rights-of-way and that aging power plants can be made more efficient and environmentally-friendly.
Quiniones also noted the state hopes to increase the diversity of energy sources, including natural gas, solar, wind and other sources.
The state issued a request for information on April 11, with a submission deadline of May 30. The request asks potential developers and investors to discuss the issues and challenges that may arise and prevent the project from moving forward. Suggestions on how to solve potential problems are also included.
Francis Murray, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said the state will review responses and formulate an action plan during the summer that will help the state move forward on the project.
Robert Hallman said he was impressed with the turnout to Thursday's conference and that it reflected the substantial interest in the project. Hallman is New York State deputy secretary for energy and the environment.
The energy highway, Hallman said, shows “the fundamental importance of this issue to the governor both in terms of energy policy and as a part of his overall program to foster private investment and infrastructure development in this state in addition to jobs to secure our economic future and to do all that in the context of a sustainable and environmentally sound policy.”