The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) published an order Thursday implementing several recommendations on offshore wind from the power grid study the commission issued a year ago. The actions are designed to ensure the increasing number of projects will be able to interconnect efficiently with each other.
Among other actions, regulators directed Consolidated Edison to submit details for an onshore hub that would support the interconnection for 5 GW-6 GW of offshore wind into lower Manhattan. In November, the utility had announced a series of clean energy commitments and had proposed building "clean energy hubs" in New York City to deliver offshore wind and other new resources.
The order comes as New York begins a new round of solicitations for up to 2 GW of offshore wind that will require a meshed network of transmission to curb network congestion. "Today, among other things, the Commission addressed the Study’s critical recommendations relating to the integration of 9 GW of offshore wind with the State’s onshore network," PSC Chair Rory Christian said in a statement.
In January, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced a February auction for offshore wind lease sales in the New York Bight. Those installations, which could use New York City as an on-land interconnection point, increasing the need for a "shared mesh configuration" of transmission for the new resources, according to the PSC order.
"[W]e note the Initial Report's finding that a meshed approach would be the most flexible and adaptable to the availability and locations of future" leasing areas, the PSC wrote in its Jan. 20 order.
According to the PSC order, a meshed transmission network "helps to mitigate generation tie outages and permits the users of the grid to direct their generation to the point of interconnection (POI) where those injections have the highest system value. The ability to transfer energy between onshore POIs also serves to reinforce the onshore grid and reduce network congestion."
The recommendations the PSC is implementing would help "future-proof" the grid in supporting larger offshore wind development, said Noah Shaw, a partner in Foley Hoag's energy and climate practice. New York state's 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) set a target of 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035.
The PSC also directed the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to require offshore wind proposals to be designed with multiple points of interconnection, creating capabilities to interconnect with a meshed system among multiple offshore wind projects.
The upcoming solicitations will be the first to require that "multiple projects can connect to each other and make the most efficient use of the point of interconnection," said Shaw, former general counsel at NYSERDA, who helped design the state's offshore wind program.
The PSC order also established a working group to assess advanced transmission technologies. State regulators are seeking to accelerate the adoption of advanced transmission technologies that can help meet CLCPA targets more cheaply, and they directed utilities to report in six months on their progress identifying pathways to implement the technologies in addition to requiring ConEdison to design a New York City interconnection hub.
"This is driven by where the resource is slated to come onshore... With many gigawatts of offshore wind landing in New York City, ConEdison has to figure out how to manage that injection," Shaw said.
"Utilities have to react in these pockets where there's just such a large influx of resources coming on land," he said, noting that other Northeast utilities will face a density of offshore interconnection requests, such as those expected from Eversource and National Grid in Massachusetts and PSEG in New Jersey.
On Wednesday, the Department of the Interior approved construction to begin on a 132-MW offshore wind project. It's the second commercial U.S. offshore wind project to receive approval, following Vineyard Wind in Massachusetts. The South Fork wind project, being developed by Eversource Energy and Ørsted, received final permitting and is expected to complete construction in 2023, placing a dozen turbines off of Long Island, New York.
The project, under contract with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), is not under the jurisdiction of the PSC, but utilities like LIPA and PSEG Long Island will also be called upon to "future-proof" offshore transmission planning, Shaw said.
"There's a real reformation of the entire Long Island grid that's going to happen over the course of the next decade or so," he said.