Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Questions About a New Power Cable that Will Cross the Sound from Norwalk to Huntington

From Bryan Brown, on Long Island:

I recently found out about another cable project to span Long Island Sound from Huntington to Norwalk. There's a 2MB PDF
at this link that is the joint proposal between the Long Island Power Authority, the Town of Huntington and Connecticut Light & Power.

The proposal includes a discussion of the environmental impacts, at least as presented by LIPA. I raise a few questions in bringing this matter to your attention:

(1) Is anyone paying attention to this project?

(2) If so, how have the impacts of this cable project been rationalized vis-a-vis the outcry against the pipe associated with Broadwater and other pipeline projects?

(3) Are people willing to accept at face value LIPA's take on the environmental impacts?

The background info will, in part, answer some of my own questions. The proposed cable (a single cable) will replace seven cables that lie directly on the seabed and have been problematic. Some of the cables are not working because they were damaged by an anchor a few years ago. The damage resulted in the release of mineral oil to Long Island Sound. The old cables are supposed to be removed and replaced with this single cable that will be buried up to 10 feet below the seabed. The new cable doesn't require dielectric fluid (i.e., mineral oil). So, in essence, LIPA is replacing an old, frayed "extension cord" with a new, perhaps better extension cord.

It's not a new crossing per se but it will require the use of a sea plow to bury it, with the attending seabed disturbance. This replacement extension cord will allow Long Island to continue to purchase power from Connecticut in the same way that the new "extension cords" connecting Long Island to New Jersey will enable that market.

The joint proposal includes a discussion of the alternatives, including a HVDC cable (the proposed cable is AC), new local power plants, new local distributed generation and additional demand-side management and "Surprise! Surprise!" (spoken in my best Gomer Pyle voice), the cable comes out as the best alternative, even better than finding ways to consume less energy.

So I'll add a fourth question: Will LIPA's evaluation of the economics of this project receive any local scrutiny?

(I should also add that the project has been on the drawing board for a few years but only recently was reactivated. There is a public hearing coming up on May 15 in Northport, so unless one is checking the New York State Department of Public Service filings (my source) or was aware of it before (not me), it is news. I don't know what the regulatory process is for Connecticut and whether hearings will be held there.)




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