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New underwater power line through region moving closer to reality

LAKE CHAMPLAIN- The plan to install an underwater power line on the bottom of Lake Champlain that will eventually feed New York City with Canadian power crossed another regulatory hurdle last week.

The developers of the system - Canadian-based Transmission Developers Inc. (TDI) - still have a number of approvals to obtain, but the company is hopeful it can begin work next year, entering the Lake Champlain phase in 2013, said Donald Jessome, president and CEO of the company.

At the same time, area lake preservation groups hope their concerns will be taken into consideration as the project moves forward.

The plan, dubbed the Champlain Hudson Power Express, received a green light March 21 from the New York Independent System Operators - a group that oversees the state's electricity market.

It now faces a handful of other regulatory obstacles, including approval by the New York's Public Service Commission and Army Corp of Engineers.

Under the plan, Transmission Developers would bury two 5-inch power lines from Montreal to New York City, mostly under waterways, including the bottom of Lake Champlain and the Champlain Canal.

The line would then exit the canal in Fort Edward and be buried inland along railroad right-of-ways for about 70 miles to avoid areas of PCB contamination in the Hudson River. The line would re-enter the river south of Albany, ending in a sub-station in Yonkers.

The system is estimated to cost nearly $2 billion and stretch 385 miles. When complete, it would supply New York City with 1,000 Megawatts of power. The average power transmission line, in comparison, is approximately 30 Megawatts. Power would come from hydroelectric and wind sources in Canada.

New York City has long been underpowered while its residents pay some of the highest rates in the country, according to LTI. The new transmission line would power more than 1 million homes, saving consumers roughly $750 million a year, Jessome said.

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