April 30 (Reuters) - New York’s initiative to modernize its electric system through $5.7 billion in public and private investments to build up to 3,200 megawatts (MW) of generation and transmission is on or ahead of schedule, a state panel said on Tuesday.
The New York Energy Highway Task Force said its role was now complete and the various state agencies, authorities, utilities and other interested participants will proceed with their assigned tasks.
The task force submitted the so-called New York Energy Highway Blueprint to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in October 2012.
That blueprint contained recommendations to expand and strengthen the state’s power and natural gas system, accelerate construction projects and support clean energy.
Governor Cuomo introduced the Energy Highway initiative in the 2012 State of the State address.
The task force made its comments on the Energy Highway at an Advanced Energy Conference held in New York.
The task force highlighted actions by the state Public Service Commission in April to ease transmission congestion, which will help lower electricity prices in downstate New York and support the development of energy projects.
The Public Service Commission and the state-owned New York Power Authority (NYPA) have also started work on contingency plans in case the giant Indian Point nuclear power plant shuts in 2015.
Indian Point is located about 40 miles (64-km) north of Manhattan and provides about a quarter of the power used in New York City.
The contingency plans include a request for proposals by NYPA for 1,350 MW of generation or transmission, the construction of three new power lines by the state’s utilities, and new energy efficiency projects.
One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes in New York.
The state expects to make a final decision on the Indian Point contingency proposals in the autumn.
U.S. power company Entergy Corp, which owns the 2,037-MW Indian Point plant has filed with federal nuclear regulators to keep the two reactors at Indian Point running for another 20 years after their operating licenses expire in 2013 and 2015.
Entergy has said the Indian Point license renewal process will likely continue beyond 2016.
In addition, NYPA is modernizing its transmission system in Western, Central, and Northern New York, and the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority issued a $250 million solicitation for clean energy projects.
The biggest power companies in New York include units of Consolidated Edison Inc, National Grid Plc, Iberdrola SA, CH Energy Group Inc, TransCanada Corp and NRG Energy Inc.