Study Of Hydropower Project Disputed | WAMC

Study Of Hydropower Project Disputed

Feb 4, 2020

Independent Power Producers of New York and other groups recently released a report concluding a planned power line that will bring Canadian hydropower to New York City will not reduce carbon emissions.  But supporters of the project say the groups that commissioned the report have long been opposed to the project and the data is skewed to reflect the opposition.

First proposed in 2010, the Champlain Hudson Power Express is a 330-mile power line that would run beneath the waters of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River to bring up to 1,000 megawatts of hydropower to New York City.  The five inch diameter cable would be laid on the lake and river beds, or buried along rail or road right of ways when the waterbodies do not connect.  The project has received all state, federal and local permits and is awaiting final contracts.

Independent Power Producers of New York, or IPPNY, the Sierra Club, and Boilermakers Local Lodge No. 5 recently commissioned consulting firm Energyst to draft a report on the impact of the power line.   Executive Director Tanya Bodell says it would increase rather than reduce CO2 emissions.   "The Quebec hydro coming into New York is simply going to be a reshuffling of power that Hydro Quebec would otherwise sell into either another market or into New York. And so as a result there would not be expected to be any net carbon emissions reduction. And it would have adverse consequences for the in-state renewables that otherwise could provide the same benefits with a guaranteed reduction in carbon emissions.”

The report also finds that Hydro-Quebec does not have enough surplus power to sell to New York.  IPPNY President and CEO Gavin Donohue says it is crucial New York City understands the ramifications of any power contract it considers.  “We represent over 1000 megawatts of renewable resources in the state. We have a clean energy standard in New York state where we've had over 3000 megawatts of RFPs that have been awarded to build resources in-state. The state is committed to a transmission upgrade to move renewables from upstate to downstate. So we are about supporting New York state renewables including offshore wind, and trying to get what is the best deal and what is the most honest deal for New York City ratepayers.”

But North Country Chamber President Garry Douglas says IPPNY has opposed the Champlain Hudson Power Express project since it was first proposed.  “The Independent Power Producers have consistently opposed anything that would bring power in from any place outside of New York because they want to, in many cases, force New York taxpayers and ratepayers to buy their more expensive power. Quebec has what we need. They have abundant, reliable, secure hydropower. And this project, it's the most environmentally sensitive transmission project you could think of to get that hydropower down to the city of New York where it's needed.”

Hydro-Quebec released a statement noting that the study was paid for by the gas industry.  Export Markets spokesperson Gary Sutherland notes that they have been selling power to New York state for nearly 100 years. He says the IPPNY report omits data and is inaccurate to the point of being preposterous.  “The report doesn't really look at the amount of energy, the amount of new capacity, that we've created the amount of new water that is stored in our reservoirs. And the total theoretical capacity of those reservoirs is actually larger than the amount of energy that all of New York consumes in an entire year. We have reservoirs that are getting fuller and fuller partly because of this increased generation capacity that we have. So we're really poised right now to play a major role in sending more energy into those markets. And the best thing that we can do in terms of New York state to decarbonize is to be able to send much more energy down south.”

Energyst report:
http://www.ippny.org/vs-uploads/chpe-study/1580134557_ENERGYZT%20REPORT%20-%20CHPE%20Impacts_01272020_FINAL.pdf

Champlain Hudson Power Express:
http://www.chpexpress.com/

Hydro-Quebec 2018 Annual Report:
http://www.hydroquebec.com/data/documents-donnees/pdf/annual-report.pdf

Sustainable Development Solutions Network:
https://resources.unsdsn.org/deep-decarbonization-in-the-northeast-united-states-and-expanded-coordination-with-hydro-quebec