Construction Begins in Queens to Receive 339-Mile Champlain Hudson Power Express
NEW YORK—Construction is underway on the converter station for the 339-Mile Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) transmission line terminating in Astoria, Queens.
The project paves the way for the first-ever transformation of a fossil fuel site into a grid-scale zero-emission facility in New York City. Once completed, the state-of-the-art facility will convert 1,250 megawatts of clean energy from direct current to alternating current power that will be fed directly into the City’s power grid. The target for New York is that 70% of the state’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2030 as required by the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
Located in Astoria, Queens, construction on the converter station officially began on June 22, including significant remediation work that was required to prepare the site for construction of this zero-emissions facility. In total, six tanks which previously stored 12 million gallons of No. 6 oil, as well as nearly four
miles of piping were removed from the site. During peak construction, approximately 150 union workers will develop the facility with Kiewit Corporation as lead contractor for the site, which is expected to begin operating in 2026.
Construction on CHPE kicked off on Nov. 30, 2022, in Whitehall, NY and since then project crews have been executing and preparing for construction activity throughout New York State. CHPE will provide competitively priced hydropower from Quebec that is expected to deliver enough clean energy to power over one million homes and is expected to reduce harmful emissions by 3.7 million metric tons—the equivalent of removing approximately 44% of the cars from New York City streets.
The project is also expected to provide a total of $3.5 billion in economic benefits to New Yorkers and create approximately 1,400 family-sustaining jobs during construction, with a commitment to use a significant amount of union labor.
The historic CHPE project was contracted under the state’s first-of-its-kind renewable energy and transmission program, known as Tier 4, which is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The Tier 4 program is part of the Public Service Commission’s Clean Energy Standard, which is designed to cost effectively and responsibly facilitate the delivery of a significant increase of renewable energy to New York City, an area of the state that relies on aging fossil fuel-fired generation located largely in underserved communities. These communities experience the most significant air quality issues and health impacts from fossil fuel emissions and has a marked need for improved grid reliability and resiliency.
As part of the construction kickoff, CHPE announced on Sept. 19 the first recipients of funding from the Green Economy Fund, a $40-million fund created by Hydro-Quebec and Transmission Developers to support disadvantaged communities, low-income individuals, and transitioning fossil fuel workers in accessing and building careers in New York State’s green economy. The GEF’s direction is informed by an Advisory Board made up of experienced local community members, experts in workforce development, and environmental justice leaders across New York State.
Four awards totaling $750,000 will be provided to Pathways to Apprenticeship, Stacks + Joules, Nontraditional Employment for Women, and the NYC District Council of Carpenters Apprenticeship Journeyman Retraining Educational & Industry Fund (AJREIF). These four organizations are focused on workforce development and training initiatives geared towards building an equitable and inclusive climate industry, and the awarded programs have laid out clear paths to high-quality careers for low-income and disadvantaged New Yorkers. The next Request for Proposals as part of the GEF is set for early 2024 and will be focused specifically on training and development programs operating outside of New York City.
Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York President Gary LaBarbera noted the project, will create good paying union jobs and careers. “Progress on yet another important phase of the CHPE project represents critical progress in this key initiative that will act as a stimulus for New York’s economy and achievement of our clean energy goals. We look forward to continuing our work with CHPE and the State to provide a workforce of highly skilled union tradesmen and tradeswomen who will effectively complete this project with the opportunity to support their families and pursue the middle class,” he said
New York State’s Climate Plan
New York State’s nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35%, with a goal of 40%, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century.
A cornerstone of this transition is New York’s unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2021 and more than 3,000% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with nearly 400 registered and 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the state’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.