Start of Construction Paves Way for First-Ever Transformation of a Fossil Fuel Site into a Grid-Scale Zero-Emissions Facility in New York City

September 19, 2023

Governor Kathy Hochul, alongside United States Department of Energy Deputy Secretary David Turk, Premier of Quebec Francois Legault, Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke, and executive leadership from Transmission Developers and Hydro-Québec, announced the start of construction on the converter station for the 339-Mile Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line – paving the way for the first-ever transformation of a fossil fuel site into a grid-scale zero-emission facility in New York City. Once completed, the state-of-the-art facility will convert 1,250 megawatts of clean energy from direct current to alternating current power that will be fed directly into the City’s power grid. Today’s announcement accelerates progress toward New York’s target of 70% of the State’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 as required by the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

“Renewable energy plays a critical role in the transformation of our power grid while creating a cleaner environment for our future generations,” Governor Hochul said. “The transformation of a fossil fuel site into a zero-emission facility highlights the world of possibilities we have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, mitigate the impact of climate change and accelerate our collective progress of shifting our power grid to go green.”

Located in Astoria, Queens, construction on the converter station officially began on June 22, including significant remediation work that was required to prepare the site for construction of this zero-emissions facility. In total, six tanks which previously stored 12 million gallons of No. 6 oil, as well as nearly four miles of piping were removed from the site. During peak construction, approximately 150 union workers will develop the facility with Kiewit Corporation as lead contractor for the site, which is expected to begin operating in 2026.

Construction on CHPE kicked off on November 30, 2022, in Whitehall, New York and since then project crews have been executing and preparing for construction activity throughout New York State. CHPE will provide competitively priced hydropower from Québec that is expected to deliver enough clean energy to power over one million homes and is expected to reduce harmful emissions by 3.7 million metric tons – the equivalent of removing approximately 44 percent of the cars from New York City streets. In addition, the project is also expected to provide a total of $3.5 billion in economic benefits to New Yorkers and create approximately 1,400 family-sustaining jobs during construction, with a commitment to use a significant amount of union labor.

The historic CHPE project was contracted under the State’s first-of-its-kind renewable energy and transmission program, known as Tier 4, which is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The Tier 4 program is part of the Public Service Commission’s Clean Energy Standard, which is designed to cost effectively and responsibly facilitate the delivery of a significant increase of renewable energy to New York City, an area of the state that relies on aging fossil fuel-fired generation located largely in underserved communities. These communities experience the most significant air quality issues and health impacts from fossil fuel emissions and has a marked need for improved grid reliability and resiliency.

As part of the construction kickoff, CHPE today announced the first recipients of funding from the Green Economy Fund (GEF), a $40 million fund created by Hydro-Québec and Transmission Developers to support disadvantaged communities, low-income individuals, and transitioning fossil fuel workers in accessing and building careers in New York State’s green economy. The GEF’s direction is informed by an Advisory Board made up of experienced local community members, experts in workforce development, and environmental justice leaders across New York State.

Four awards totaling $750,000 will be provided to Pathways to Apprenticeship, Stacks + Joules, Nontraditional Employment for Women, and the NYC District Council of Carpenters Apprenticeship Journeyman Retraining Educational & Industry Fund (AJREIF). These four organizations are focused on workforce development and training initiatives geared towards building an equitable and inclusive climate industry, and the awarded programs have laid out clear paths to high-quality careers for low-income and disadvantaged New Yorkers. The next Request for Proposals as part of the GEF is set for early 2024 and will be focused specifically on training and development programs operating outside of New York City.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Bringing clean energy to the nation’s largest city is a key part of transforming New York State’s electricity grid, and this converter station represents a critical milestone in that effort. The Champlain Hudson Power Express will not only reduce pollution and improve air quality in our most historically vulnerable communities—it also builds on our state’s progress toward realizing a just, equitable, and livable clean-energy economy while supporting the achievement of our ambitious Climate Act goals.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line is accelerating New York’s transition to a cleaner, greener future by delivering reliable energy from Hydro-Québec in Canada to New York City. Thanks to Governor Hochul’s leadership, this milestone to celebrate Climate Week is part of a series of significant investments to advance renewable energy technology in the state, ensure we meet our climate targets, support local jobs, and deliver clean and cost-effective energy to consumers across the state.”

Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said, "I applaud Governor Hochul's steadfast commitment to projects such as Champlain Hudson that reinforce and strengthen the backbone of our energy system. In addition to ensuring a clean-energy future, projects such as these are strengthening the safety and reliability of the transmission system. Champlain Hudson will play a key role in our comprehensive plan to modernize our state's transmission system so that it delivers clean energy to all New Yorkers, while advancing our climate goals and creating clean-energy jobs."

United States Department of Energy Deputy Secretary David Turk said, “The Champlain Hudson Power Express will deliver cleaner and lower cost power to the people of New York, create clean energy union jobs of the future, and support the Biden-Harris administration investments towards a carbon free power sector by 2035 and decarbonized economy by 2050. I applaud Hydro-Quebec, Transmission Developers, Inc., and all community and government partners on this momentous step forward.”

United States Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia said, “EPA is playing a major role in our clean energy transition by encouraging projects similar to this that reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels for alternatives that foster new economic opportunities, create jobs, and reduce emissions. President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is helping to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments.”

Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke said, “I am proud to attend this construction kickoff to represent the important role that my Mohawk community of Kahnawà:ke has played in this project as co-owners of the transmission line on the northern side of the border that will transport clean renewable electricity to the people of New York. Over the past century, our Mohawk ironworkers have helped build up the New York City skyline. And now we have an opportunity to contribute in a different manner as stewards of the environment. As such, Kahnawà:ke is grateful to contribute to New York’s continuing transition towards green energy.”

Premier of Québec François Legault said, “I am proud to inaugurate the converter station which is part of a very important project to reduce GHGs in North America: the Champlain Hudson Power Express. This historic partnership between Hydro-Québec, TDI, the Mohawk Community and the State of New York will link Québec to New York City to export our hydroelectricity for the next 25 years. New York has some of the most ambitious decarbonization targets in the United States, and Québec is proud to help New Yorkers achieve them. Today's inauguration proves that we are reliable and serious as a leader of the energy transition in North America.”

TDI CEO Justin Sauber said, "The start of construction on our New York City converter site is not only a major step forward for the project's construction but also a representation of how crucial CHPE is to decarbonizing our grid and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels to power this great city. Building a zero-emissions converter on a site that once housed millions of gallons of oil is no small feat and we are so grateful to our many partners who have helped us get to this point. We look forward to continuing with construction and bringing CHPE online in 2026."

Hydro-Quebec COO Serge Abergel said, "We often talk about fighting climate change in terms of our ambitions for the long term, but today with construction on the Champlain Hudson Power Express well under way, we are talking about delivering big results in less than three years. Broadening the clean energy conversation was critical to our shared success, and will be essential to building future renewable projects. Hydro-Quebec's commitment to continuing this conversation with New York communities will be ongoing for the next 25 years and more."

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest Environmental Justice Director, Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright said, "CHPE is one of the most exciting developments in New York City since the Ali/Frazier fight. And speaking of fights, CHPE will be a key tool in our collective fight against a quintessential climate crisis that continues to admonish the world through sets of increasingly devastating cataclysms that disproportionately impact the communities I serve with NYLPI. CHPE is going to deliver a shot in the arm of clean, renewable energy that will allow New York to live up to its climate commitments like shutting down dirty, profligate peaker plants that choke out Black, Brown and poor people throughout the City and State. CHPE is a demonstration of HydroQuebec’s commitment to environmental justice, and it shows through their process that included communities from the outset, which serves as a model and refutation of political actors who believe we need to sacrifice community participation and early engagement with workers for expedience. NYLPI is so pleased to support CHPE and honored to consider HydroQuebec friends and partners in the fight against climate change, and ipso facto environmental injustices.”

Con Edison’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cawley said, “Con Edison is a proud supporter of the Champlain Hudson Power Express because it is clear to us that climate change poses a real and urgent threat. The clean energy transition is critical for New York’s future which is why we’re expanding and strengthening our energy system to meet the region’s growing demand for electricity. Today’s milestone also serves as great example of how the transition from fossil fuels to renewables creates jobs and contributes to a robust economy.”

Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York President Gary LaBarbera said, “If New York is to maintain its leadership in green infrastructure, it is critical that we can continue to invest in development that not only spearheads these initiatives, but also creates good paying union careers in the process. Progress on yet another important phase of the CHPE project represents critical progress in this key initiative that will act as a stimulus for New York’s economy and achievement of our clean energy goals. We look forward to continuing our work with CHPE and the State to provide a workforce of highly skilled union tradesmen and tradeswomen who will effectively complete this project with the opportunity to support their families and pursue the middle class.”

Blackstone Senior Managing Director Bilal Khan said, "This project will deliver large scale economic benefits, new clean energy jobs and increased reliability and resilience to New York’s power grid. We are proud to be a part of this transformative energy transition project for New York."

Hitachi Energy CEO Claudio Facchin said, “It is exciting to see construction get underway on this important project where global standards, new business models, and collaboration have been vital for speed and agility. Interconnections like Champlain Hudson Power Express that reach across borders and between different regions will facilitate the kind of power grid infrastructure that is so critical to the clean energy transition, as it enables a more sustainable, flexible, and secure energy system. Hitachi Energy is proud to play a role in bringing this project to execution, which brings the US closer to a future with nation-wide interconnections across borders, regions, and time zones.”

Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said, "Replacing New York City's fossil fuel dependency with renewable energy is a challenging and complicated process, however, that is exactly what is happening. We are excited and grateful that clean, safe hydropower will be on its way to New York City in a few years. This is a significant project that provides a meaningful advancement of redirecting New York City's damaging reliance on dirty fossil fuel to a cleaner, healthier future. We congratulate Governor Hochul and the whole Champlain Hudson team for meeting the challenges of implementing this project and we are thrilled to celebrate this milestone."

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2021 and over 3,000 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with nearly 400 registered and 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.