Con Edison is planning a trio of electric transmission projects that are expected to deliver large amounts of renewable energy in the city while helping to enable the eventual retirement of fossil fuel-powered plants and supporting reliable service.
As a part of their Clean Energy Commitment, Con Edison is building Reliable Clean City transmission lines in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, with planned investments of approximately $800 million in the projects.
“The Reliable Clean City projects will connect communities in New York City’s outer boroughs to a supply of increasingly renewable electricity as the state harnesses its vast wind and solar energy potential,” said Milovan Blair, Senior Vice President, Central Operations, Con Edison. “These projects will bolster the backbone of our electric grid as we prepare to deliver 100 percent clean power to our customers by 2040 and fulfill our recently expanded Clean Energy Commitment.”
The Reliable Clean City projects aim to strengthen the connections between the existing Con Edison grid in an effort to unlock a greater flow of electricity across New York City. The projects were approved in 2021 by New York’s Public Service Commission and gained lots of support from environmental justice organizations.
The projects will add an additional 900 megawatts of transmission capacity in areas that need it, facilitating the transition to a lower-carbon energy system. Over time, the projects will serve as “off ramps” for the delivery of renewable energy generated outside the city, whether from offshore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean, large-scale solar and wind projects upstate, or hydroelectric power from Canada.
Construction is currently underway in Queens, with workers installing an underground feeder that will run for six miles between a substation in western Astoria and another in Corona. The Queens Reliable Clean City project is expected to reach completion in 2023. Two other projects, connecting substations in Gowanus and Greenwood in Brooklyn and substations in Goethals and Fox Hills in Staten Island, are expected to be completed in 2025.
“Robust electric infrastructure is critical as the energy system evolves toward renewables and we become increasingly reliant on that clean energy to heat our homes and power our vehicles,” Blair said. “We are building a grid that will position New York as a global leader in clean energy and climate resiliency, while ensuring the benefits of that transition flow to all of our 3.5 million customers.”
Additionally, the city is working to phase out its peaking power plants, which have helped keep the lights on during periods of high energy demand, but they contribute to air pollution locally and climate change globally by burning fossil fuels. The closure of the plants will bring environmental benefits, particularly during summer when air pollution is at its worst. However, the absence will present challenges for maintaining reliable electric service in those same neighborhoods due to constraints on the local grid, but the Reliable Clean City projects will contribute to the reliability.
“New York City’s electric grid is on the cusp of a clean energy transformation,” said John Mandyck, CEO, Urban Green Council. “Smart upgrades will unlock new renewable power, make the grid more resilient and help phase out the dirty peaker plants that pollute NYC’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.”
Finally, in addition to investing more into the transmission lines, Con Edison will be strengthening its distribution grid and paving the way for a major expansion of clean energy resources within New York City and Westchester County, including customer-owned solar panels, batteries and electric vehicle chargers.
“We are seeing an unprecedented investment in renewable energy, and Con Edison’s Reliable Clean City projects are essential to New York City’s clean energy future,” said Stephen Levin, CEO, Solar One. “These projects will help facilitate closing down the peaker plants that contribute to our overall carbon footprint and adverse environmental and health impacts in neighborhoods across the city from the South Bronx to Sunset Park. We at Solar One look forward to continuing to work with Con Edison and other green partners to deliver more clean energy to New Yorkers.”
“We need reliable renewable energy more than ever as New York works toward greening the electric grid of the future,” Julie Tighe, President, New York League of Conservation Voters. “While New York is taking steps to generate enough clean energy to supply the state in line with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) timeline, New York City needs increased transmission capability to harness our investments in renewable solar and wind. We applaud Con Edison for investing in these projects, which will help to meet the company’s goal of delivering 100% clean energy by 2040.”