Q&A

Frequently asked questions about the Champlain Hudson Power Express.

What is HVDC transmission?

High-voltage direct current (HVDC) energy transmission is a time-tested technology that transmits power over long distances more efficiently than alternating current (AC) transmission. In addition, HVDC does not produce controversial electromagnetic fields associated with AC transmission.

Learn more about HVDC

What is the project route?

The project route has been carefully designed to have a minimal footprint, using waterways and existing rights of way to remain out of sight and avoid environmentally sensitive areas such as the PCB cleanup site in the upper Hudson River. The project will run from the U.S.-Canadian border, south through Lake Champlain, along and under the Hudson River, and eventually ending at a converter station in Astoria Queens.

See a map of the preferred route.

How will this project affect the environment?

Because the solid-state cables are only five inches in diameter, it is possible to run them underwater and underground along existing rights of way, minimally disturbing the environment and preserving natural views. Careful attention has been paid to avoid environmentally sensitive locations, such as PCB concentrations in the Hudson River.

How will the cable be installed?

The cable will be installed using low-impact water jet technology that minimally impacts the environment. See a demonstration video of how the cable would be installed:

 

Will this project use overhead transmission in New York?

No. The cable will either be placed in existing waterways or buried underground. There will be no new overhead transmission associated with this project.

What happens if a line is cut or broken—will the water become electrified?

If the cable is damaged, HVDC protection reduces the current and voltage to zero in a fraction of a second so there is no possibility of damage to persons, fish or any nearby infrastructure.

What precautions will be taken to protect the cable once it is in the water? Can anchors from boats snag it?

To protect against an anchor or fishing equipment damaging the cable, the line is placed below the bottom of the waterways, and either submerged into the river/lake bed or covered with a barrier to prevent snagging. In the highly unlikely event that the cable is snagged, the sheer weight of the cable will inform the vessel that they’ve attached to a major subsurface object. The cable itself incorporates fiber optic thermal and communication protection features that would detect any snag, as well as fault protection equipment at both converter stations to clear any fault nearly instantaneously. These safety features will shut down operations immediately should the cable become damaged in order to protect both life and equipment.

Who is financing this project?

The project will be 100% privately financed. TDI’s lead sponsor and equity provider is the Blackstone Group. The construction debt financing will come from a consortium of commercial banks and other private debt providers.

What if there are overruns? Will those be passed through to rate payers?

As a private project, any cost overruns would be born by the private owners of the project. Ratepayers will not be affected by construction cost overruns.

Where is this new power coming from?

TDI designed this project to meet the growing demands of the New York marketplace by bringing new sources of clean, affordable, renewable energy to consumers. The source of this energy will be renewable energy generators.

Where is the power going?

The power will be delivered to a converter station that will be built in Astoria Queens, New York, and will be connected into the Con Edison grid.

Does the government approve this project? What approvals are needed?

The project has received all required federal and state permits, and we will work with applicable agencies on any permit modifications required to protect the environment. More information on permitting is available here.

Will this project affect PCB cleanup in the Hudson River?

No. To avoid installing the HVDC cables within areas associated with the Hudson River PCB Dredging Project, the HVDC cable route will exit before the Champlain Canal and follow street and railroad rights of way. The line will be buried throughout this area to avoid the visual impacts of overhead transmission.

Has this type of project been done before? Is it safe to put electric cables in water?

Underwater HVDC cables are proven technology in use all over the world, including right in our backyard. The Neptune project, for example, safely connects New Jersey and Long Island via an HVDC cable that runs through New York Harbor.

How long do these lines stay in operation and what maintenance do they require?

There are many examples of these projects in operation for more than 60 years. The converter stations will have periodic maintenance performed on transformers and other electrical equipment as specified by the manufacturer. The cables are monitored on a continuous basis and, unless damage is detected, they are virtually maintenance-free.

Is this a safe project?

This project is extremely safe, utilizing solid-state cables that are made from well insulated nonflammable materials that do not contain liquids or gels that could leak. The HVDC converter stations are also solid state with no flammable fuel—unlike thermal generation stations. To minimize the possibility of damage, the HVDC converter stations incorporate electrical protection systems that identify and isolate faults in a fraction of a second.

Read more about safety.

Will the project affect the commercial and recreational use of both the Hudson River or other waterways?

No. The current and future use of these waterways will be unaffected.

What maintenance needs to be done on the lines?

The cables are monitored on a continuous basis and, unless damage is detected, they are virtually maintenance free. The converter stations will have periodic maintenance performed on transformers and other electrical equipment as specified by the manufacturer.

Is there any testing that will need to be done in waterways to make sure the lines can be placed in them?

Various tests have been done on the waterways where the lines will be placed. These include a side scan sonar analysis and bottom sampling of the riverbeds and lakes where the project will be located.

What voltage level will the project operate at?

The project will operate at between 300–320 kV, depending upon the technology that is selected.

What was the major decision made by the PSC for your project on April 18, 2013?

The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an order Granting Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (permit). The commission found that the project had significant environmental benefits; provided needed transmission supply into a congested NYC load pocket; provided fuel diversity; connected renewable, stable-cost hydro resources into NYC; and strengthened the interconnection between the Quebec and New York grids. The permit is required to construct the project in the state of New York.

How will the CHPE project connect with Quebec?

The CHPE project will connect to the Quebec transmission system by running matching HVDC cable past the New York–Canadian border and splicing it onto existing cable within the Quebec transmission system. On the Canadian side, the cable is expected to run to the Hertel HVAC converter substation near the City of Montreal. HydroQuebec will be responsible for the connection and infrastructure on the Canadian side of the border.

http://www.hydroquebec.com/hertel-new-york/en/