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DPS Staff 34.5 kV Columbia County Alternative - FAQs NYS DPS July 2014 pg.

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New York State
Public Service Commission
Information Bulletin

In May 2012, New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) filed an application with the NYS Public
Service Commission (PSC) to construct and operate the Columbia County Transmission Project to
address concerns about the reliability of the electric system. The proposed project included construction
of approximately eleven miles of new 115,000 Volt (115 kV) transmission line in the Towns of Ghent,
Chatham and Stockport, as well as a construction of new switching station in the Town of Ghent and
modifications to the existing Klinekill substation located in the Town of Chatham.

The Commission instituted a proceeding (Case 12-T-0248) regarding the application and sought public
comment on the proposal. In response to interests expressed by community members and the Town of
Ghent, the New York State Department of Public Service Staff (DPS Staff) developed a lower-voltage
alternative to NYSEG‟s 115 kV Columbia County Transmission Proposal.

The intent of the DPS Staff Alternative is to:
 Strengthen the electric delivery system to address existing reliability concerns
 Rebuild or build needed new distribution power lines on existing right-of-way and/or along
existing roads to minimize the need for new right-of-way land
 Provide the ability and flexibility to efficiently meet longer term needs

The information below addresses some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) associated with the original
NYSEG proposal and the DPS Staff alternative:

Need for System Upgrades:

Before discussing the need for system enhancements, it is best to understand the how the electric system
operates and to define terms such as distribution, transmission and substation.
Q. What is the difference between transmission and distribution lines?
R. Electric transmission, such as 115 kV power lines, consists of circuits that operate at higher voltages,
are installed on higher poles or structures, and deliver larger amounts of power over longer distances..
These lines are generally constructed off-road on right-of-way corridors approximately 100 to 150
feet wide.

Electric distribution, such as 34.5 kV distribution feeders, consists of circuits that operate at lower
voltages, are installed on shorter poles, and deliver smaller amounts of power over shorter distances
from a substation to individual customers along its path. These lines are generally constructed along-
side roadways on right-of-way corridors approximately 30 feet wide.

Columbia County Transmission Project
DPS Staff Alternative

DPS Staff 34.5 kV Columbia County Alternative - FAQs NYS DPS July 2014 pg. 2 of 7

Q. What does a substation do?
R. Substations such as the ones discussed in the project are used to convert high voltages coming from
transmission lines into the lower voltages carried on the distribution feeder lines.

Q. Why does the NYSEG electric system in Columbia County need to be enhanced?
R. Four substations currently supply power to NYSEG customers in Columbia County. High voltage
(115 kV) transmission lines carry power to these substations where it is then distributed, using lower
voltage (34.5 kV) feeder lines, to individual customers. As demonstrated in Figure 1 below, the same
transmission line serves both the Craryville and Klinekill substations. In the event that an outage
occurs on this line, the entire customer load is then served by the two remaining substations. If the
outage occurs during periods when customer usage of electricity is at its highest (known as peak
load), the electric demand could not be served by the Wyantskill and Stephentown substations and a
significant number of customers would not have power. Therefore, the area‟s electric system needs
to be improved to ensure reliability for all customers.

Fig. 1 - Customer peak load cannot be fully served following loss of a 115 kV line

Q. I f the NYSEG 115 kV transmission project is constructed rather than the DPS low voltage
proposal, will the existing 34.5 kV distribution lines need to be upgraded?
R. Yes. Regardless of the overall future plan adopted (e.g. NYSEG‟s proposal or Staff‟s plan or some
other future plan), 34.5 kV distribution lines will inevitably need to be built or rebuilt in Columbia
County for a variety of reasons including:
 Extending lines to new customers
 Replacing deteriorated or damaged facilities
 Accommodating road widening projects
 Adding capability to adequately serve concentrated pockets of growth.
 Alleviating reliability and performance problems caused by overall area load growth

Depending on load growth and other needs, a comparable amount of 34.5 kV lines will need to be
built new or rebuilt with either the NYSEG 115 kV plan or the DPS 34.5 kV plan – though not
necessarily in the same locations.

= 115 kV Line
= 34.5 kV Feeder
kV = 1,000 Volts
Not Drawn to Scale

= Out-of-Service
= Unserved Customers
Loss of 115 kV Line
DPS Staff 34.5 kV Columbia County Alternative - FAQs NYS DPS July 2014 pg. 3 of 7

DPS Staff Proposal:

As noted above, NYSEG‟s proposal included constructing and operating eleven miles of new 115 kV
transmission lines, building a new substation in Ghent and modifying the Klinekill substation.
DPS Staff has proposed an alternate low voltage project using 34.5 kV distribution lines and a reduced
length of 115 kV transmission line.

Q. What is the DPS Staff lower voltage proposal?
R. Similar to the NYSEG project, DPS Staff proposes an additional substation as well as the
construction of new transmission and distribution lines. However, Staff‟s proposal includes a phased
approach, the first phase would be to address immediate reliability issues while subsequent phases
would be built as needed to accommodate potential growth and increased system demands.

Q. What is the plan for the initial phase (also called Phase One)?
R. Phase One, which would add two new 115 kV transmission supply sources to the area, and would
also concentrate on upgrading the existing 34.5 kV distribution system as shown on Figures 2 and 3,
would consist of the following:
 Operational changes and voltage improvement techniques (i.e., changes in how backup feeds
are switched, changes in voltage settings and installation of equipment to improve voltages)
 A new “Falls Park” substation to be constructed at the Falls Industrial Park in the Town of
 Two parallel new 115 kV lines running approximately one mile connecting an existing 115 kV
transmission line in the Town of Stockport to the new Falls Park substation.
 Two new 34.5 kV distribution feeder lines (Feeder 1 and Feeder 2) connecting the Falls Park
substation to existing 34.5 kV feeders within the Columbia County electric system.
 Feeder #1 (also called Stage A) consists of approximately 3 miles of new, rebuilt and
replacement 34.5 kV line. Specifically, Feeder #1 would include:
 1.3 miles of new overhead line starting from the Falls Park substation heading
south on State Route 9H (SR 9H) to Old Post Rd;
 1.5 miles of overhead line rebuilt along SR 9H starting from the new line on Old
Post Rd and running to Columbia County Airport Rd to connect with the existing
34.5 kV overhead line, and;
 0.25 miles of underground 34.5 kV cable replaced south of the Columbia County
Airport runway.
 Feeder #2 (Stage B) consists of 3.6 miles of new and rebuilt 34.5 kV line, including:
 1.5 miles of new overhead line starting from the new substation proceeding south
on SR 9H then east on County Route 22 (CR22);
 1.5 miles of overhead line rebuilt starting from the new line on CR22 and running
along Orchard Rd and George Rd; and
 0.6 miles of new overhead line from the southern end of George Rd to connect
with the existing 34.5 kV line on State Route 66.

DPS Staff 34.5 kV Columbia County Alternative - FAQs NYS DPS July 2014 pg. 4 of 7

Fig. 2 – DPS Phase One work near new Falls Park substation

SR 23
SR 22
DPS 34.5 kV Proposal
Falls Park Substation
Overview of Initial
Feeder Work and
CR 22
Not Drawn to Scale
Fdr #1 –
Stage A
New Falls

Fdr 610
Green River
N. Hillsdale
++++ = Rebuilt Underground
= 34.5 kV – No Change
= Rebuild
= New Overhead Line &

Fig. 3 – DPS Phase One work Connecting to Existing 34.5 kV System

N Falls
Orchard Rd
DPS 34.5 kV Proposal
Falls Park Substation Siting
and Initial Feeder Exits
Not Drawn to Scale
= Rebuild
= New overhead 34.5 kV
Line & ROW
DPS Staff 34.5 kV Columbia County Alternative - FAQs NYS DPS July 2014 pg. 5 of 7

Q. Will additional work be needed after the completion of Phase One of DPS’s plan?
R. The completion of the DPS Phase One work would represent a major reinforcement to the electric
system in the area. It is estimated that these improvements will adequately serve the area‟s expected
overall load growth and needs for at least fifteen years. As previously described, distribution line
construction may be needed for other reasons before that.

Although Phase One is anticipated to adequately serve expected load growth, DPS is tentatively
proposing future distribution facilities construction should a significant amount of additional load
growth occur in the area. This proposal consists of up to five additional stages (Stages C through G)
which include new feeder lines as well as additions to Feeder #2. It is important to note that the need
for any or all of Stages C through G is speculative at this time and may not be needed if load growth
is moderate or if other better alternatives are identified.

Diagrams of Phase One and Stages C-G are available from the DPS website at using
the search feature to find documents pertaining to Case 12-T-0248.

Line Configurations:

Q. What is the typical design of a 34.5 kV pole?
R. A typical 34.5 kV pole top consists of an eight foot wide wooden cross arm on a wooden pole.
Three power conductors are installed on
insulators with a neutral wire also installed
further down the pole. Some poles may include
transformers (to convert from 34.5 kV to 120/240
Volts for customer use), switches, or capacitors;
and some poles may require guy wires to help
keep them upright when the circuit follows a
bend in the road

In addition to electric distribution facilities, some
utility poles include other attachments such as
phone lines, cable TV and street lights.

Fig. 4 – Typical 34.5 kV Pole Top Construction

Q. How tall are 34.5 kV distribution poles?
R. Typically, 34.5 kV poles are 50 to 55 feet high to adhere to the National Electric Safety Code (NESC)
for required clearances above the ground, while also accommodating other utility attachments. If a
second primary distribution circuit (4 kV up to 34.5 kV) is added underneath to form a double circuit,
it would add about 6 feet to the required height of the pole. Also, uneven terrain may require slightly
higher poles in certain areas.

DPS Staff 34.5 kV Columbia County Alternative - FAQs NYS DPS July 2014 pg. 6 of 7

Q. What are the Right-of-Way (ROW) land requirements for an electric distribution line along a
R. A new distribution line will typically require a corridor of land approximately 30 feet wide.
Alternately, although an existing line may be located on a narrower corridor, its rebuild may also
require a full 30 foot wide ROW. In some cases, depending on specific circumstances such as the
type of roadway, land use and existing environmental and topographic features, a corridor wider than
30 feet may be needed.

Q. What happens to trees within and along the ROW? How often are they trimmed? How much
space is maintained between 34.5 kV conductors and tree branches?
R. One of the main reasons an ROW is required for distribution lines is to reduce the risk of outages and
damages to the power lines. Therefore, the NYS Public Service Commission mandates that trees are
trimmed to allow six feet of clearance on all sides around the electric conductors. Trees are
scheduled to be trimmed every three years.

Land Use Requirements:

Q. Who owns the land on which a distribution line is located?
R. Rather than purchasing the land outright, electric utilities typically pay a nominal fee to a landowner
for an easement which gives the utility the right to build and maintain a line on that property. The
landowner continues to own that portion of the land.

Q. How much of the landowner’s property will be used?
R. This depends on the adjacent roadway, existing land-use and environmental and topographic features.
As an example, if a pole with an 8 foot wide cross-arm is installed on the property line and the power
line has no bends in it, then the cross-arm and overhead conductors would extend four feet into the
landowner‟s property. If the easement is 30 feet, with half on each side of the property line, the
remaining 11 feet of easement (i.e. 15 feet minus 4 feet) on the owner‟s property would be used for

Q. I f there is a bend in the power line and a guy wire is needed to help keep the pole upright, how
much additional space will the guy wire take up on the ground?
R. The amount of space is dependent upon how sharp the turn is, but its anchor would lie within the
easement on the landowner‟s property, which may require a slightly wider easement. Typically,
however, the 15 foot of easement extending on the landowner‟s property will be able to accommodate
the guy wire.

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Participating in the Process:

Q. How can an interested party participate in the Article VI I process?
R. PSL Article VII establishes the review process for consideration of any application to construct and
operate an electric transmission line with a design capacity of 100 kilovolts or more, extending for at
least ten miles. Article VII provides opportunities for individual and group stakeholders to take part
in the process, including,

 Party Status: Becoming a party to a case enables an individual or group to contribute to the
development of a complete record by conducting discovery, submitting testimony, briefs, or other
formal written comments, and participating in evidentiary hearings, procedural conferences and
other formal events conducted in the case.

When you submit the request for party status on-line (through DMM), you will be provisionally
added to the party list, subject to the right of other parties to object and subject to the
determination of the Administrative Law Judge. You will be required to mail your request to
anyone on the party list who cannot receive e-mail service. If you do not wish to register online
through the Commission‟s DMM System, you can download the “Request for Party Status Form”
( and follow the filing instructions on the form. If you do
not have access to a computer, you can call or write to Administrative Law Judge, NYS Public
Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350, 518-474-4520, to
request that a form be mailed to you. Please refer to Case Number 12-T-0248.

 Service List: Interested persons who wish to monitor the proceedings of a particular case can do
so without the formal commitment to become a party to the proceeding. The persons who
subscribe to the service list of a case will receive an e-mail with a direct link to the documents
issued by the Commission, such as orders, notices, and rulings. Persons unable or unwilling to
receive such electronic notification will receive hard copies of Commission-issued documents by
regular mail.

If you do not wish to register on the Commission‟s DMM System, you may download the
“Service List and Mail Service List Request Form” ( and
send the completed form by e-mail to Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary at If you are unable to e-mail the form to the Secretary, you may mail your
request to: Secretary, Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-

 Web Monitoring: Interested persons who choose not to sign up to receive e-mail notifications
can view our website at their convenience to check on the status of a case. All documents filed by
parties, correspondence, hearing transcripts, and documents issued by the Commission in a given
case are posted on the website for that case. In addition, all comments submitted by the public are
posted under the „public comments‟ tab for the case.

 Public Participation: There are opportunities to attend public outreach events such as public
statement hearings and project open houses to learn about the project and provide comments.
Interested persons can also provide comments electronically through DMM for Case 12-T-0248.