New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called for the development of New York’s “energy highway” in his State of the State address earlier this year.  In large part, the energy highway would serve as an efficient conduit for energy from Canada and Western New York to the metro New York area, where demand is starting to outstrip the ability to ensure a reliable supply.  The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is taking a lead role in the development of this initiative, and may play a key role in funding any significant expansion and/or replacement of components of New York’s aging power grid, or perhaps focused, less robust upgrades to the existing grid.

In order to make decisions about the nature and extent of any such grid enhancements, it is important to understand the potential benefits/needs related to a significant rebuild or replacement of the existing grid.  In addition to moving more energy into the metro New York region, an upgraded grid would, among other things, allow New York to develop and use more renewable energy in its energy supply mix, while maintaining grid reliability.  An upgraded grid could also support a much higher level of grid control which can support more aggressive energy efficiency efforts, reducing demand peaks across the State.

The Energy Highway Task Force created to oversee New York’s effort has a lot of work to do.  Unless, and until, we can identify and quantify the value of different replacement and  enhancement options, it will be difficult to make informed decisions about cost-effective investments in New York’s grid.