Labor leaders call for approval of new power lines

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NEWBURGH – Construction labor leaders in the Hudson Valley, Tuesday, called for community support for the construction of two power lines – the Champlain Hudson Power Express and Clear Path New York.

The building trades officials emphasized what they said was the urgency of community backing for approval of the lines.

 The underground electric lines, powered by solar, wind and hydroelectric, would bring electric power from Quebec, Canada on a route that goes from Canada to Catskill, to Ulster, Orange, Rockland and Queens counties and reduce the region’s fossil fuel use for electricity by more than 80 percent by 2030.  It could power more than one million New York homes with renewable power, and without marring New York’s scenic views as it passes through upstate New York, Orange and Rockland counties to New York City via underground lines, where 90 percent of power is currently supplied by fossil fuels.  

Speakers said that not only would it be a major breakthrough for clean energy, but it would also be clean energy produced in North America.

They also said it would mean jobs and training for New York’s labor force. Estimates are that it will create nearly 10,000 middle-class jobs in New York, many for union tradesmen and tradeswomen, and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages.  Officials said one of the benefits of the project is that it includes a $40 million for job training and workforce development, and in  a new clean energy and climate resiliency work sector. 

Hudson Valley Building Trades Council President and Laborers Local 17 Business Manager Todd Diorio said Senator James Skoufis acquired a grant for the training funds. “This will address the twofold barriers now being encountered of an unsustainable demand and collection system restraints.” 

These two projects, which are critical to moving toward sustainability, he said, are only part-way through the approval process, and the building trades and construction unions need communities to lend support and push for the approval process to be done soon, so the work can begin later this year.

Additional economic benefits to New Yorkers include 3,200 secondary jobs during construction, $400 million in family wages and benefits and $1.4 billion in tax benefits to 73 localities and 59 school districts during the project’s first 25 years.  

When the projects have been completed, the Champlain Hudson Power Express delivery cost to consumers will be fixed for its first 25 years.