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Cuomo touts $26 billion in NY renewable energy projects. Here's what's coming to your area.

Mario Marroquin Sarah Taddeo
New York State Team
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed an ambitious $26 billion green energy plan Wednesday, including planned construction of transmission lines and offshore wind farms.
  • The state has three open bids for transmission line projects that will bring power from Upstate New York to the New York City area.
  • Two new offshore wind farms will be built 20 miles off the coast of Long Island.
  • The plan will generate 12,400 megawatts of power, enough for six million homes, and will create an estimated 50,000 jobs.

New York is turning to renewable energy to jump start its post-COVID-19 economy, touting plans Wednesday to construct more renewable projects and an expanded transmission grid to move wind and solar energy across the state. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a $26 billion array of renewable energy projects on Wednesday during his third of four State of State addresses, emphasizing the public-private partnership meant to make facilities from Livingston County to the tip of Long Island a reality. 

The governor touted over 100 renewable projects happening in the state right now and three open bids for transmission line projects.

One of the toughest renewable energy dilemmas facing New York is the hundreds of miles that lay between the space for the projects — mainly in upstate and rural areas — and regions where the energy is consumed, which is mostly in and around New York City. 

“The historic and compounding challenge in New York has been sending the renewable energy from where it is being produced to where it is needed,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address virtually from The War Room at the state Capitol, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Albany, N.Y.

His solution? An expanded green energy transmission grid. 

Cuomo announced a competitive process to determine the best transmission projects for state financing, starting with the following open bids:

  •  A transmission line spanning about 330 miles from the Northeast Adirondacks to New York City
  • A line that will provide increased capacity from Massena through Marcy to Rock Tavern in Orange County, and a new line underground to carry power to New York City 
  • A line from Leeds, Greene County, to New York City

The Massena - Rock Tavern line includes a second underground line from Rock Tavern to New York City.

He also announced four specific projects that will break current grid congestion and will break ground in 2021, including: 

  • An 86-mile smart path project in the North Country
  • A 20-mile line in Western New York bringing power output from Niagara Falls to Elma, Erie County
  • A 100-mile line from Marcy to New Scotland in Albany County 
  • A 50-mile line from Rensselaer County to Dutchess County 

The "new energy superhighway" will be optimized using a battery storage facility to store excess power. A 20-megawatt battery storage facility that can meet the electricity demands of 1.2 million homes is currently under construction in Franklin County, Cuomo said.

The state will also build two wind farms more than 20 miles off the coast of Long Island and will work with manufacturers to build wind turbine components at five facilities, including a new offshore wind tower-manufacturing facility to be built at the Port of Albany. 

The offshore wind farm proposals have been met with opposition in recent years from the Long Island fishing community, which worried about the impact of towering turbines on its ocean fishing grounds. Ratepayers across the state, have also been helping to pick up the tab, despite the energy remaining in the New York City and Long Island markets. 

Large-scale energy projects, meanwhile, have been at the center of major disputes among local property owners who are affected by them, including previously proposed projects in Niagara, Orleans and Broome counties. 

More:In upstate New York, wind farms are rising rapidly. How they're ripping communities apart

Fishing community says no to wind farm:Energy ratepayers bankrolling offshore wind farm opposed by Long Island fishing industry

Who pays for the offshore wind farms? NY ratepayers will pay for $2.1B offshore wind plan, but won't get the energy

All told, the state's renewable energy program presented Wednesday is estimated to create 50,000 jobs, generating some 12,400 megawatts to power six million homes, Cuomo said. 

"We must replace fossil fuel plants with clean power. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it, and now is the time to do it," Cuomo said. 

Expanding the state's renewable energy generation capabilities will reduce emissions and create jobs, said Gavin Donohue of the Albany-based trade group Independent Power Producers of New York. 

"It is encouraging to hear a commitment from the Governor that permitting and construction of renewable energy facilities will be expedited so we can move toward achieving our shared climate goals," Donohue, the CEO of the trade group, said in a prepared statement. "This is about New York jobs, New York taxes, and helping New York communities."

John Maserjian, a spokesperson for New York Transco, the infrastructure firm developing the 55-mile transmission line from Rensselaer County to Dutchess County, said modernizing the grid in New York is vital to the economy. 

New York Transco will build a power station in Schodack and extend a new line through the towns of Stuyvesant, Stockport, Ghent, Clermont, Claverack, Livingston, Gallatin, Milan, Clinton and Pleasant Valley. The firm expects construction to begin this year. 

Joseph Martens, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance advocacy group, backed the governor's push for offshore wind farms and increased investments in transmission. 

"The investment in New York ports, transmission infrastructure, worker training and development of New York’s supply chain bode well for New York’s nation-leading transition to a clean energy economy," said Martens, who previously served as the Cuomo-appointed commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Mario Marroquin covers real estate and economic development. Click here to see his latest stories. He can be reached at mmarroquin@gannett.com or @mars3vega

Sarah Taddeo is the consumer watchdog reporter for USA Today Network's New York State Team. Got a story tip or comment? Contact Sarah at STADDEO@Gannett.com or (585) 258-2774. Follow her on Twitter @Sjtaddeo. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Please consider becoming a digital subscriber.