Ending a Tale of Two Power Grids

New York Today

It’s Tuesday. We’ll look at two big transmission-line projects that will bring clean energy to New York City. We’ll also look at a statue of Theodore Roosevelt that is going from Manhattan to North Dakota.


Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Clean power is being generated in upstate New York, but it is not reaching New York City, the area that relies most heavily on power from fossil fuels.

That is because New York effectively has two separate electrical grids: one upstate, where most of the state’s growing clean-power supply is generated, the other in and around New York City. The transmission lines that connect the two cannot carry more power.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced two massive transmission-line projects to help bridge the divide and deliver renewable energy directly to New York City. Environmental advocates hope the two projects are a sign that she is stepping up the state’s efforts to address climate change.

The clock is running. By law, New York has just nine years to bolster the share of the electricity it uses that is generated from wind, sun and water to 70 percent, from less than 30 percent today.

As my colleagues Anne Barnard and Grace Ashford write, reaching that target will require unifying the state’s electrical grid — and reshaping it to work less like a one-way transmitter and more like an ecosystem. On blustery days it should be able to send surplus wind power from turbines off Long Island to consumers upstate. In the summer it should be able to send energy south from rural solar farms to the city.

[Can New York Really Get to 100% Clean Energy by 2040?]

Together with recently approved offshore wind projects, the transmission lines put the state on track to meet its 2030 goal. The path to a tougher target — drawing 100 percent of the state’s energy from renewable or nuclear sources by 2040 — is less clear.

One of the new transmission lines, called Clean Path New York, will stretch 179 miles from Delaware County in the Western Catskills to a substation on the East River. It will tap the state’s growing wind and solar energy supply, carrying it, mostly underground, along routes where the state already has the right to build power lines.

The private developers on the project include global energy developer Invenergy, which is building many renewable-energy projects upstate, and the real estate developer Related. The transmission line will give Related energy credits that it can sell to help offset penalties it expects to owe, under a new city law, for the fossil-fuel energy its buildings use — even its newest, most energy-efficient ones.

The other new line, the Champlain Hudson Power Express, will be almost twice as long, a buried cable from Canada down the Hudson River to the city. It will pull down enough hydropower to deliver 20 percent of the energy New York City uses on an average day. Sophie Brochu, president and chief executive of Canada’s state-owned utility, Hydro-Québec, which will supply the power, called it “an umbilical cord” between dams in the far reaches of Québec and Queens.

In the 10 years since the line was proposed, its promised output has grown by a quarter as technology has improved. The route has changed as well, stretching and twisting in response to local opposition. In Canada, some Indigenous groups contended the export violates their territory and environment.

Transmission Developers, the Blackstone-backed company that will build and own the line, says it has worked closely with opponents to find safe solutions. And Hydro-Québec has offered a partnership stake with the Mohawk tribe, said a leader, Mike Delisle, although the details have not been worked out.

For Ms. Hochul’s administration, the benefits of the project — 1250 megawatts of reliable, renewable hydropower, delivered straight to New York City, with most permits already approved — outweighed any potential backlash.

“This is the place where the clean energy revolution is happening,” she said recently, breaking ground for another clean-energy project, in Genesee County, later adding: “It’s going to be an all-the-above approach.”


The early afternoon brings a mix of scattered flurries, with light rain showers and temps in the low 40s. Expect a partly cloudy evening in the mid-30s.

alternate-side parking

In effect until Dec. 8 (Immaculate Conception).


Credit…Caitlin Ochs for The New York Times

Scaffolding is going up around the statue of Theodore Roosevelt in front of the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History, the first step in moving it to a new home.

The statue, which shows Roosevelt on horseback with a Native American man standing on one side and an African man on the other, is going to the new Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, located near Roosevelt’s former Badlands cattle ranches in North Dakota. The library is scheduled to open in 2026 in the tiny town of Medora (population 129).

The statue became a target as a painful symbol of territorial expansion and racial discrimination. Some consider Roosevelt an imperialist, but he is difficult to label or categorize. “He can appear as a reformer, a nativist, an imperialist, a trustbuster, a conservative and a progressive — often at the same time,” according to the author Clay Risen.

As our writer Sarah Bahr noted, the library will put some distance between the statue, the place it has occupied in front of the museum since 1940 and the city, which owns the statue. In June, the city’s Public Design Commission decided that it had to come down. The museum had proposed removing it after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. At the time, Ellen V. Futter, the museum’s president, said that the museum’s proposal had to do with the statue — specifically, its “hierarchical composition” — rather than with Roosevelt. Mayor Bill de Blasio also expressed his support.

The statue is leaving New York on a long-term loan. The library said in a statement that its board considers the statue “problematic in its composition” and indicated that the statue would go into storage while the library decides how to display it. The design commission will have final approval over how it is to be shown.

The website Native News Online quoted tribal leaders as saying they had not been consulted about moving the statue to North Dakota. Leander McDonald, the president of United Tribes Technical College and a former chairman of the Spirit Lake Tribe, repeated that to me on Monday. He also talked about visiting New York City and seeing the statue.

“I didn’t feel too good about it as a tribal person,” he said. “I thought it put us down. I thought it showed the white man as superior to the Native person. It’s a different cultural perspective than we have as Native people.” He added that if the statue could be installed in a way that told “the true story of the Europeans coming into these lands and what happened to the tribal people and what happened to our African-American relatives,” then “maybe there’s some usefulness for it.”

But the statue has its defenders. “I would have left it the way it was,” said Jeffrey Kroessler, a professor and interim chief librarian at John Jay College who wrote an opinion piece in The Daily News last year headlined “In Defense of the Teddy Roosevelt Statue.” “That is who we were and what we thought, and with it gone, we will not know what New Yorkers once thought and believed.”


Dear Diary:

We ventured out one afternoon to test my wife’s stamina while she was recovering from hip-replacement surgery.

After walking with a cane for a block or two, she became faint and started to breathe heavily. We found a seat and some shade in Richard Tucker Park, between Columbus Avenue and Broadway.

A woman who was sitting nearby offered her assistance, a generous vendor provided a bottle of water and my wife began to revive somewhat. She soon began to falter again, however, and I called 911.

Several firefighters responded, followed soon after by E.M.T.s. As my wife began to recover in the E.M.T.s’ vehicle, a woman came over and asked that they turn off the engine so she could eat her sandwich in peace while waiting for the downtown bus.

After politely explaining that would not be possible, one of the E.M.T.s smiled and said, “Bon appétit.”

— Tom Houlihan

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

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James Barron