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NYS bill could speed up electric transmission installation

New York’s Legislature is considering a bill to get clean-energy projects connected to the grid faster.

It’s called the RAPID Act, for “Renewable Action through Project Interconnection and Deployment,” and backers have said it would make clean-energy projects’ permitting and interconnection processes more efficient. As states prepare their power grids for the renewable energy boom, many grid operators need to catch up, according to a new report.

Jeff Jones, a communications consultant for the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said better connectivity is necessary to bring renewable energy to all parts of the state.

“We are now starting to see more and more distributed areas where renewable energy is being produced,” he said, “but most of that is taking place in areas that have enough electricity, like in upstate New York, where we are starting to see more and more wind farms and especially solar farms.”

He said people are concerned that this bill could override local opposition to transmission projects since it would require that more power lines be developed. There are also concerns about how it would affect the farm industry, and Senate lawmakers want assurance the jobs stemming from this and other bills would use local hires.

The RAPID Act is under review in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

Beyond the climate benefits, the RAPID Act could bolster New York’s green economy. Henry Westbrook, president and assistant business manager at IBEW Local 1249, said this bill would expedite the process of bringing new transmission projects from ideas to realities.

“We need to act now to keep up with the demand that is in front of us,” he said. “You can only build things just so fast. There’s going to be things that are going to get in our way: Mother Nature, terrain, the public. You’re going to have to work around certain things.”

Westbrook said there’s a real need to upgrade an antiquated distribution system. New York had more than 170,000 clean-energy jobs in 2022. Jobs in grid modernization grew more than 8% that year, making New York’s state battery storage and grid modernization sector one of the largest in the country.

Categories: New York StateNews