Another environmental concern is dams, which form a critical component of hydropower systems owned by the project’s power provider, Hydro-Québec.
“The dams that are creating the hydropower have had, historically, a huge effect on the indigenous people there,” said Shapley, speaking about damage caused to tribal lands in Canada and methylmercury in fish that live near the dams.
Environmental groups are worried about electromagnetic fields (EMF) that could have a negative impact on aquatic life in the river, including endangered and electrosensitive sturgeon. To this point, Jessome said the line would be moved out of the water and onto land to avoid the sturgeon population at Haverstraw Bay in Rockland County.
North of the border, the Champlain Hudson’s five-inch-thick cables will lie underground for about 40 miles and pass through lands owned by the Mohawks of Kahnawake, who signed a co-ownership agreement for the power line with Hydro-Québec, a longtime supplier of electricity to the state.
Hydro-Québec spokeswoman Lynn St-Laurent said the project would not lead to the building of new dams, though one dam is now under construction as part of a previous build-out plan, she said.
“As it stands, we don’t see the need for new dams in the foreseeable future,” St-Laurent said. The utility already uses solar and wind power, she added, and recently called for bids from wind power farms.
Hydro-Québec also planned to deliver electricity along a separate 1,200 megawatt power line to New England states, but Maine voters rejected the project in a referendum on Tuesday. Its fate is now unclear.
President Joe Biden cited hydropower in his COP26 messaging this week. But this brand of renewable electricity also has an uncertain future in Biden’s reconciliation bill, as federal lawmakers haggle over tax credits for modernizing outdated facilities.
New York’s newest hydropower endeavor includes a $40-million fund to provide training for jobs in the green-energy sector and a $117-million environmental fund to benefit Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. Final approval for the Champlain Hudson Power Express project by the New York Public Service Commission is expected early next year.