Massena, N.Y., Local 2032 members work on transmission lines in the state’s northern region. Once modernized, the new lines will be able to transport more clean energy to the population-heavy downstate area.  

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to rebuild almost 80 miles of transmission line, and it will be done by IBEW members.

It’s an effort to strengthen grid reliability and bring renewable power from the energy-rich North Country to the heavily populated southern portion that includes New York City.

“This critical upgrade will help strengthen our clean energy economy in every corner of the state, and help New York reach its nation-leading clean energy standard,” Cuomo said in a statement released July 21. “By investing in the long-term sustainability of our state’s energy infrastructure today, we are helping to ensure New Yorkers will have access to a cleaner, greener future for years to come.”

The clean energy standard mandates that 50 percent of New York’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030. The standard also provides credits to the state’s nuclear plants, three of which are located upstate along Lake Ontario, for their production of clean energy, making them more economically viable. IBEW members were crucial in the lobbying effort that created the standard.

“Gov. Cuomo has been diligently working to upgrade the grid ever since he got into the office," said Massena, N.Y., Local 2032 Business Manager Bill Brown Jr. "We’re proud to support him in his efforts to provide clean and reliable energy throughout the state."

Called the Moses Adirondack Smart Path Reliability Project, the $440 million rebuild will follow the existing lines that begin in Massena, located near the Canadian border along the St. Lawrence river, and head south, ending in the town of Croghan. The new lines will be capable of transmitting up to 345 kilovolts of energy, an increase from the current 230 kilovolts.  

The project, set to begin in 2019 and take four years to complete, is expected to create 2,000 full-time jobs, most of which will go to IBEW members, Brown said.

“A lot of lineworkers will have an opportunity for good work close to home,” Brown said.

In addition to the maintenance the Local 2032 utility workers will do, Syracuse, N.Y, Local 1249 members are expected to do the construction.

Local 1249 Business Manager Mark Lawrence said that once the contracts are issued, his members will likely build the new transmission lines as well as relocate and tear down the existing ones, including working on access roads, clearing, matting, drilling and pouring the foundations.

“This project has been in the works for years. Our guys are ready to go,” Lawrence said.

Originally constructed in 1942, the transmission lines are due for an upgrade, Brown said. Outages are increasing and it’s getting harder to fight the aging infrastructure. In some places, the lines are still supported by outdated wooden poles, which will be replaced with new steel structures.

“We’ve been maintaining these lines for decades. It’s time to modernize,” Brown said.