Power plan would cut energy bills 10
Jan 05 - Westchester County Business Journal Westchester businesses and residents
would save up to $100 million a year in power costs under a $700 million plan to lay two
circuits of underground power lines between New York City and Albany, the plan's
developer says. Conjunction L.L.C. of Albany says its "Empire Connection" project
would lower the electric bills of businesses in Westchester, New York City and upstate
by 10 percent. Conjunction also says its plan would present one answer to what has
become a thorny public policy dilemma how to satisfy rising energy demand without
building additional and politically unpopular new power plants. Steve Mitnick, chief
executive officer of Conjunction, said the company hopes to wrap up approvals next year
and start creating the first of the project's planned 700 construction jobs soon after.
The bulk of those jobs, he said, would be at the project's connection points with existing
power lines in the Bronx and upstate.
"We're not breaking ground till early '05," Mitnick said in a Nov. 18 interview.
Mitnick spoke one day after Conjunction submitted an application for Empire Connection
to the state Public Service Commission.
The developer is seeking from the commission a certificate of environmental
compatibility and public need.
'WE WILL GO AHEAD'
"We do not think there will be significant opposition. If that proves to be the case, we
will go ahead next year and start ordering equipment" valued at up to $40 million,
Empire Connection would consist of two high-voltage direct current lines that would
transmit 2,300 megawatts (mw) of lower- cost power from upstate New York south to
Westchester and New York City.
One circuit would link the upstate town of Coeymans to a Con Edison substation on West
49 Street in Now York City.
The second circuit would connect the state Power Authority's GilboaLeeds transmission
line in the upstate town of Athens with Con Edison's Rainey substation in Long Island
Both circuits would use the New York State Thruway right-of-way from upstate south to
the Tappan Zee Bridge.
The circuits would cross the Hudson River within the existing structure of the bridge,
then follow Metro-North Railroad's Hudson line right-of-way south to New York City.
Conjunction says the project would save Westchester and New York City businesses and
residents more than $600 million per year in electric costs once the project is completed
Empire connection has support from two environmental groups, Riverkeeper Inc. of
Garrison and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The groups consider Empire
connection an ecologically sounder alternative to building new power plants or
maintaining the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan, which generate 2,000
mw of power.
"The Empire Connection project will likely displace dirty and dangerous power plants
along the Hudson River while providing New Yorkers with a clean, reliable and
inexpensive source of power," Riverkeeper president Alex Matthiessen said last August
in a written statement.
"This could solve a lot of the Hudson valley's power plant- related problems in one fell
swoop, creating an environmental windfall for local residents," Matthiessen said.
Riverkeeper has spearheaded the coalition of environmental groups and elected officials
that have challenged Entergy Nuclear Northeast over its continued operation of Indian
Point, citing health and safety concerns in the event of a rapid release of radiation or a 9/
11-style plane crash into the reactor. Entergy has maintained the plant is safe, well-
secured, and essential to meeting energy needs in Westchester and New York City.
Empire Connection has also won political support within Westchester from County
Executive Andrew J. Spano and the county Board of Legislators. Both have sought to
shut down Indian Point.
Perhaps more important to the success of Empire Connection, the project last September
received a funding commitment from ITC Holdings Corp., an entity controlled by a
partnership of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Trimaran Capital Partners.
The amount of that commitment is undisclosed.