Champlain Hudson Power Express cable to transport electricity under lake on way to NYC
A major transmission line that will send energy under Lake Champlain from massive Canadian reservoirs to New York City broke ground in 2022.
The Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) has been in the works for over a decade and aims to provide electricity to about 20% of the massive New York City market. The state Public Service Commission in April OKed a 25-year contract to buy billions of dollars in renewable energy credits from Hydro-Quebec, a major Canadian utility, for energy deliveries to New York.
The transmission line, financed by Blackstone Group and to cost over $6 billion, will draw from Hydro-Quebec’s portfolio of 62 large generating stations. The company controls impoundments that cover more than 6 million acres in northern Canada, larger than the entire Adirondack Park.
Those dams and reservoirs, incredible engineering feats, were also built in a way that furthered mistreatment of Indigenous communities. The reservoirs flooded Indigenous burial grounds and cut off access to traditional travel and hunting routes. Damming on that scale also has ecological impacts.
While the project had its vocal opponents, many environmentalists, social justice advocates and state and local officials lined up behind the line as critical to wean the city off carbon-spewing sources, including power plants that exacerbate pollution in low-income neighborhoods.
Construction will likely take off in 2023, with early work being done on a section of the route in Washington County. The slow process of laying miles of cable at the bottom of Lake Champlain could happen in 2024, according to the developer.
Meanwhile, smaller New York-based hydropower operators, including many that draw power from Adirondack rivers, petitioned the Public Service Commission for a cut of renewable energy funding. — Zachary Matson
Editors note: The story was updated to correct the cost estimate for the project.
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