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NYPA repairs LI cable, ponders more

Power lines on utility poles in Smithtown are

Power lines on utility poles in Smithtown are shown on June 29. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

As the New York Power Authority reports that a main power line to Long Island is back in service after multiple failures in the past year, the agency also is proposing a series of new projects to bring offshore wind power to Long Island and feed it through the rest of the state.

The so-called Y-49 cable, which experienced a failure in April and was out through the peak summer power season, was back in service last week, NYPA spokesman Paul DeMichele confirmed. Most of the trouble related to Long Island-based portions of the cable, which connects the grid to Westchester County under Long Island Sound.

The cable is scheduled to undergo a further upgrade starting in fall of 2022 that's expected to be completed in 2023, DeMichele said.

That work comes as NYPA and a partner, NY Transco, announced Tuesday that they were proposing seven projects that will help connect an influx of offshore wind power to communities throughout the state. Specifics of the projects haven’t been disclosed, but NYPA spokeswoman Susan Craig said they include "at least one" new power cable to increase the capacity between the LIPA and Con Edison systems to ensure "full output from at least 3,000 megawatts" of offshore wind throughout the state. There's also a plan to upgrade local transmission facilities.

LIPA is in the midst of an appeal to New York State’s Public Service Commission after the PSC found that local ratepayers who'll benefit most from certain transmission projects, such as those LIPA is proposed for offshore wind, must pay 75% of the cost, while ratepayers in the rest of the state pay 25%. That could mean that at least one major cable proposed by LIPA could hit Long Island ratepayers harder than other statewide customers. LIPA argues the costs should be borne by all statewide ratepayers.

Craig said NYPA is awaiting the PSC’s ruling to determine the payback mechanism for the new projects it proposes.

Big transmission projects can cost in the hundreds of millions or more than a billion dollars, depending on their size, location and sophistication.

There are five transmission cables to Long Island. In addition to the Y-49, there’s a Y-50 to New York City, a Cross Sound Cable from Shoreham to Connecticut, a second Connecticut cable at Northport, and an Atlantic Ocean cable that stretches from Jones Beach to New Jersey. The Y-50 also experienced a failure this year but was restored to service last month. The cable to New Jersey, called the Neptune Cable, has been operating at half capacity after a land-based transformer failed. It’s expected to be back in full service next year.

The cables amount to around 40% of Long Island's power capacity.

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