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New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has unveiled "Reimagining New York for a New Reality," a $17 billion strategy that he says will, among other things, transform the state's infrastructure and energy supply to better protect New Yorkers from future extreme weather.

New York will utilize approximately $1.37 billion in federal funds to harden the state's existing electrical grid, including moving approximately 500 miles of overhead primary wire underground, elevating vulnerable substations, expanding tree-trimming and raising power lines for newly elevated homes, and creating a new outage response system.

In addition, under a program to create at least 10 microgrids, New York will launch NY Prize, a $40 million competition to help build community-scale power grids for areas with approximately 40,000 residents.

The New York State Smart Grid Consortium (NYSSGC), a public-private partnership devoted to statewide implementation of the smart grid, praises Cuomo for his vision on energy issues.

"Community grids protect people, businesses and infrastructure from the devastation of extreme weather and from extended power outages, as were experienced following Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee," comments James T. Gallagher, executive director of the NYSSGC. "The power grid of the future will provide more flexibility and choices for consumers, and Governor Cuomo's NY Prize competition will be a catalyst for the grid's transformation."

During his State of the State Address, Cuomo also proposed expediting transmission projects that rely on existing transmission corridors and state-owned rights-of-way.

"We are going to expedite the building of our energy super highway; we still have a problem getting low-cost, clean, renewable power up from downstate to upstate, which is costing ratepayers $600 million a year," Cuomo said. "It can take up to two years, believe it or not, to get a new transmission project approved, and some of the proposed projects are causing concerns by expanding into local communities.

"Let's incentivize smart projects that locate within state-owned or existing transmission rights-of-way so that they are not interfering or spreading into local communities, and let's offer those smart projects an expedited approval process,” he added.

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) supports Cuomo's proposal to streamline grid improvements.

"The governor's [initiative] provides the leadership necessary to enhance the reliability, resilience and efficiency of the transmission system," comments Stephen G. Whitley, president and CEO of NYISO. "The result will improve competition across New York while enhancing the ability of renewable resources to help meet the downstate energy demands.

"Streamlining the transmission approval process for projects that will utilize existing rights-of-way is a sensible way to promote the investments that are necessary to address the need to replace and upgrade our aging transmission infrastructure," he adds.

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