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Construction Begins on $6 Billion Transmission Line That Will Bring Clean Energy From Canada to Western Queens

Photo: Unsplash

Dec. 5, 2022 By Max Murray

Governor Kathy Hochul marked the start of construction last week of a 339-mile transmission line that will deliver clean energy from Canada to a converter station in Astoria.

The governor was among several officials to break ground on the $6 billion project in upstate Washington County on Wednesday.

The transmission line, known as the Champlain Hudson Power Express, will send hydropower from the U.S.-Canadian border to a new converter station near the Con Edison plants in northern Astoria. A cable will then link it to the Rainey Substation in Long Island City, located on the corner of 36th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard.

The project will reduce the demand for fossil fuel power plants that are prevalent in western Queens, which require the burning of oil and gas to generate electricity.

“As construction begins on this project to help deliver clean energy to New York City, our state is setting yet another example of what climate action looks like,” Hochul said in a statement. “The Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line is a monumental step toward protecting our environment and creating family-sustaining, green jobs in both upstate and downstate New York.”

The transmission line, which is being constructed by Transmission Developers, will deliver 1,250 megawatts of clean hydroelectricity, enough to power more than one million homes—and will reduce carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons statewide, the equivalent of taking over half a million cars off the road every year. The transmission line is expected to be fully operational in the spring of 2026 and create 1,400 union jobs during construction.

The line will deliver power from Canadian hydropower facilities owned by Hydro-Quebec.

The project represents a significant step toward the state’s goal of generating 70 percent of its electricity via clean energy by 2030 and a 100 percent by 2040, as required by the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

The Champlain Hudson Power Express route. (Hydro-Québec)

The transmission line is not the only clean-energy project coming to western Queens.

The governor selected two projects last year that will provide power for New York City via wind, solar and hydropower. The second project, which was selected alongside the new transmission line, is called Clean Path NY, which will transmit solar and wind energy from Central New York to the Rainey Substation.

Former Council Member Costa Constantinides, who held a press conference advocating for the two projects in February, said the projects will reduce the city’s dependence on fossil fuels and noted that 55 percent of the power generated in New York City comes from western Queens, with residents of the 11101, 11102 and 11106 zip codes bearing the brunt of the pollution.

The area, given the toxins, is known by many as “Asthma Alley,” since asthma rates are higher than most parts of the city.

“For too long, fossil fuel burning power plants have polluted our neighborhood making our families sicker, increasing our asthma rates,” Constantinides said at the time.

The two projects are expected to bring more than 2,500 MW of renewable energy to Queens, reducing the demand for fossil fuel plants.

Mayor Eric Adams said the start of the transmission line represents a step toward combatting climate change as well as a move toward addressing environmental justice.

“The completion of the Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line will enable the closure of some of the oldest and most polluting power plants in the state, which are located near communities whose residents suffer disproportionately from respiratory and cardiovascular disease,” Adams said.

“This project is also a major investment in the green economy, with its creation of family-sustaining union jobs, which will help create a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable New York City.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul (c.) at a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Champlain Hudson Power Express that will deliver clean energy from Canada to Astoria. (Courtesy of governor’s office)

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