Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lake Champlain cable slated for install

Lake Champlain as seen from Point Au Roche State Park in May

Cable installation nears start in Lake Champlain

over two years ago, we reported a story on a massive and complex project to pipe hydropower from Quebec to New York City.

Why was the Adirondack Explorer interested in the story? Because that energy will make its way to the city via a transmission line under Lake Champlain and underground through a sliver of the park’s southeastern corner.

The transmission project, more than a decade in the making, offered an interesting look at the tricky trade-offs of the renewable energy transition. The power will come from Hydro-Quebec’s sprawling portfolio of dams and reservoirs, many of which left a legacy of mistreatment and displacement of Indigenous communities. But no new dams will be built to fuel New York, and energy economists argue it’s a smart way to balance intermittent solar and wind energy sources.

With no inter-connection opportunities along the line’s path, it shuts out in-state power generators — a gap other transmission project’s could help alleviate. Throughout its 339-mile length, the project has stirred controversy over potential environmental impacts (in endangered sturgeon habitat on the Hudson River, for examples) and potential risks to drinking supplies.

State agencies, though, have approved the project as essential to meeting New York’s ambitious decarbonization goals, which will require a dramatic drawdown of carbon-emitting sources and incredible increase in renewable sources over the next 15 years.

Now for the update: expect to see installation of the electric cables at the bottom of Lake Champlain this summer. A special-use 300-foot-long barge-laying cable and a fleet of support vessels will spend most of the summer on the lake 24/7 slowly positioning the cable in its new underwater home.

Not everyone is happy. Jack Doyle, the owner of the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, which runs on underwater cables, is suing the transmission line developers to prevent it from disrupting his business. It’s not clear how the dispute will be resolved.

Read more here.

A special cable-laying barge is being built at Wilcox Dock in Plattsburgh to install nearly 97 miles of electrical cable in Lake Champlain this summer

A special cable-laying barge is being built at Wilcox Dock in Plattsburgh to install nearly 97 miles of electrical cable in Lake Champlain this summer. Photo by Melissa Hart.

Mike Damp outside the Adirondack Park Agency on Thursday. Damp has led the overhaul of two marinas on the Saranac Lakes Chain

Mike Damp outside the Adirondack Park Agency on Thursday. Damp has led the overhaul of two marinas on the Saranac Lakes Chain. Photo by Zachary Matson.

The Adirondack Park Agency last week approved USL Marina, LLC, to expand its marina on Fish Creek Ponds to include 92 boat slips for rent.

The approval came over the concerns of nearby property owners, longtime visitors to Fish Creek Campground and a coalition of Adirondack advocacy groups, who all argued the project was too big.

APA disagreed. While APA commissioners pressed staff for more details about the project and the marina’s historic boat usage, they were satisfied that the marina’s pre-existing capacity was 71 slips and approved a 29% increase.

Claudia Braymer, deputy director of Protect the Adirondacks, after the approval questioned why the project didn’t require a wetlands permit despite APA staff describing how the docks were rearranged to avoid impacts to wetlands.

The developer’s marina projects have generated a bevy of litigation. Is more in store for this project?

The beautiful Boquet River

The beautiful Boquet River. Photo by Zachary Matson.

Photo at top: Lake Champlain as seen from Point Au Roche State Park in May. Photo by Zachary Matson.

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

9 Responses

  1. Gene Porter says:

    These periodic articles on CHPE progress would be more informative if the 1.2 GW capacity were to be compared to the 1.7 GW output of the two St Lawrence Seaway dams and the 2.0 GW from the Hoover dam. It would also be helpful if the articles acknowledged that about 1/4 of the length of CHPE will be buried ashore, requiring major current construction on the shoulder of NY Rt 22 with its associated traffic impacts. Its not just the Ti ferry and the bottom sediments.

  2. Tom Paine says:

    So NYS becomes more dependent on other countries and states for power. Is the power in other countries and states less polluting than power produced in NYS?

  3. Gene Porter says:

    Why do you assert that power from HYDRO Quebec is polluting?

    • Tom Paine says:

      NYS has plenty of water resources. Why no new damn construction? The only allowable power generation in NYS is windmills and solar panels. Natural gas is being outlawed. So it appears power generation is not healthy in NYS, but acceptable as long as it happens somewhere else on the planet and not seen within state boundaries. How hypocritical.

  4. Don Keebles says:

    Nasty Cathy doesn’t care about us

  5. Gene Porter says:

    Dana seems unaware that there are about 3.3 GW of power being generated in NYS’s three operating nuclear pants – equal to three CHPE cables, more than the Hoover dam, and more than twice the output of the Seaway dams.

    • Dana says:

      Oh I am perfectly aware of it. But building NEW dams is indeed expensive – which is what I was responding to.

      I would prefer to see older dams upgraded to be more environmentally friendly and efficient. After all, the transmission lines are already there. I myself am a fan of modular nuclear plants, but Big Oil has scared us all away from nuclear power, and the politicians still drink their Kool-Ade and take their money with a smile.

  6. Gene porter says:

    Generally agree. Hope to live to see Fusion

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