Climate Act Hidden Costs for Upstate New York

I know that there are enormous hidden costs to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act  (Climate Act).  A friend sent information that lifts the veil of secrecy enough to get an idea how much money is involved and the impacts to Upstate New York

This is another article about the Climate Act implementation plan that I have written because I believe the ambitions for a zero-emissions economy embodied in the Climate Act outstrip available renewable technology such that the net-zero transition will do more harm than good.  Moreover, the costs will be enormous and hurt those least able to afford increased costs the most.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

Transmission Upgrades

North American Wind Power gleefully reported that the “The New York State Public Service Commission has authorized a large number of upstate transmission system upgrades that are designed to alleviate bottlenecks in the grid and allow a higher penetration of renewable energy.”

The article noted:

In its decision, the commission approved requests from Central Hudson Gas & Electric, New York State Electric & Gas, National Grid and Rochester Gas and Electric to develop a total of 62 local transmission upgrades that will reduce congestion in the Capital Region, the southwest and northern region of the state.

“New York is making significant upgrades and additions to the state’s existing transmission and distribution systems to integrate new large-scale renewable energy projects into the state’s energy supply, and we must ensure that these investments are smart and cost-effective,” says commission Chair Rory M. Christian. “The commission recognizes the need to address congestion in certain parts of the state where renewable energy is already bottled and where additional generation projects are in development or likely to be developed in the future.”

In total, the projects will clear the way for 3.5 GW of capacity for clean energy – enough for more than 2.8 million average-sized homes.

“In order to keep moving towards our clean energy goals, New York needed grid investments in these three locations,” comments Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “This will allow electricity generating projects to deliver the clean power they make and will facilitate additional renewable energy projects coming online.”

The projects, which will cost an estimated $4.4 billion, include upgrades to existing transmission lines, upgrades to existing substations and the construction of three new substations. The utilities plan to complete the projects between 2024 and 2030.

Upstate Reality

It is not unexpected that the renewable energy crony capitalists are happy to have these projects funded,  For ratepayers it is just the tip of iceberg.   The transmission upgrade projects will cost $4.4 billion to support 3.5 GW of renewable energy or $1.26 billion per GW. An additional 2.8 GW is expected by 2025 and another 4.1 GW by 2030 according to Scenario 2 of the Scoping Plan.  The ratepayers will be on the hook for a total of $13.05 billion through 2030.

The New York Public Services Commission Case for this decision is 20-E-0197.  The order approving the transmission upgrades is available for download here.  According to the order there is a pressing need for transmission upgrades in three areas of Upstate New York:

The Commission found these areas to be characterized by “the presence of existing renewable generation that is already experiencing curtailments and a strong level of developer interest that exceeds the capability of the local transmission system. ”The Phase 2 Order identified these areas as Hornell and South Perry (NYSEG/RG&E), the Watertown/Oswego/Porter subzone (National Grid), and an area of southeastern New York consisting of facilities owned by NYSEG, National Grid, and Central Hudson. The same locations –referred to in the Phase 2 Order and here as the Areas of Concern (AOC)–are also identified by the New York Independent System Operator, Inc.

In other words, the renewable developers are unable to build as much wind and solar as they want because there are transmission constraints getting it out of those areas.  Because New York City cannot ever hope to install enough wind and solar generating capacity within the City the primary destination of this power is New York City.  However, the Public Service Commission is saying that it is the responsibility of the upstate utilities and their ratepayers to subsidize the renewable developers who want to build in those areas and sell downstate.

The specific impacts are described starting at page 39:

Table 6 below shows the estimated impacts, in dollars annually, of the AOC Projects for typical customers assuming the above noted energy price increase estimates. Table 7 below shows the estimated ratepayer impact, as a percentage, of the dollar increases depicted in Table 6 above for each of the major electric utilities. The percentage increases shown in Table 7 are based on 2021 typical total bills, with the exception of NYSEG and RG&E Industrial High Load Factor (HLF) customers, which is based on 2019 data – the most recent data available for these utilities.


The numbers are clear.  Upstate bills will rise much more than the bills for Con Ed ratepayers in New York City. The bill impacts are nearly double for most of the Upstate ratepayers.  It hardly seems equitable that rural New Yorkers have to bear the brunt of the impacts of the massive renewable development necessary for New York State’s Climate Act but also have to disproportionately pay for the privilege of having it in their backyards.

Author: rogercaiazza

I am a meteorologist (BS and MS degrees), was certified as a consulting meteorologist and have worked in the air quality industry for over 40 years. I author two blogs. Environmental staff in any industry have to be pragmatic balancing risks and benefits and ( reflects that outlook. The second blog addresses the New York State Reforming the Energy Vision initiative ( Any of my comments on the web or posts on my blogs are my opinion only. In no way do they reflect the position of any of my past employers or any company I was associated with.

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