For decades there's been a notion that you can't get new transmission built in the United States because of the NIMBY syndrome, unfounded fears about powerline radiation, overlapping local, state and Federal authorities, and unresolved ambiguities as to how transmission investment will be rewarded in the new world of electricity restructuring and deregulation. So it came as something of a surprise, when we profiled the New England Independent System Operator, to learn that New England has successfully got a lot of new transmission built in recent years. PJM, which we characterized in an earlier profile has a smooth grid operator, also has done well.
This week, at a meeting of IEEE's PES section in New York City, members heard about how Powerbridge LLC connected up PJM and Long Island with a 500 kV, 100-km HVDC line that's been running pretty much at full capacity since coming into operation three years ago. As Jim Nash, Powerbridge's VP for engineering said, it's as if a new 660-MW low-cost generator had come into operation to provide power to Long Island's hard-pressed consumers. Now Powerbridge is looking to build a second 660-MW line that would connect Manhattan's main substation with New Jersey, in part by using an abandoned raid tunnel in the Palisades. In the second project as well as the first, Siemens would supply most of the crucial filtering and control equipment, while Prysmian would lay the cable.
Meanwhile, Toronto-based Transmission Developers Inc. is looking to build a 700-km, 2-GW cable under Lake Champlain that would connect wind and hydro generation in Quebec with customers on Long Island and the New York City area. Expected to cost nearly $4 billion if built, the project must pass numerous regulatory hurdles and deal with all manner of interests that could be adversely affected, including the lobstermen who ply the waters of Long Island Sound.
Deep in the heart of Texas, a major transmission line intended to carry wind energy will likely received regulatory approval, having been rerouted in response to complaints from the big ranchers and landowners of the Heart of Texas Landowners' Coalition. It's just one of several transmission lines being built in Texas to connect relatively cheap wind generation with customers.