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Little Tor Substation Plans

Service Sustainability the Goal

Orange and Rockland Utilities plans to invest approximately $20.5 million to build a new electric substation at the southwestern corner of South Mountain Road and North Little Tor Road in New City to address potentially serious electric service reliability issues in that area. The substation will occupy less than one acre of a 10.2-acre parcel owned by O&R.


Maintaining reliable electric service in the community is the primary goal of this proposed substation.


Basic electric service reliability — not improved reliability, not premium reliability but basic service reliability — currently is at risk in the Little Tor area and that risk is growing.


The electric infrastructure now serving the northern New City area has reached its capacity. Over the past 10 years, the electric demand in this area has grown 13 percent and it will continue to grow. That increased demand fro electricity exceeds the capacity of the equipment, and, as a result, design standards that O&R applies for reliable operation are not being met.


To help support the strained electric service reliability there, in 2012 O&R created a stop-gap solution to help mitigate this risk. As its new substation plan, which was filed in 2008, was continuing through the Clarkstown Planning Board review in 2012, O&R deployed a temporary, mobile substation to the proposed permanent substation site.


That supplemental energy source, which taps the overhead transmission wires at the site to conduct additional electricity into the distribution system, was designed to provide some temporary load relief to the strained infrastructure. The stop-gap plan called for the removal of the temporary substation once a permanent substation was built. The mobile substation has been in place on the proposed substation site since then and, the Clarkstown Planning Board review continues.


Each year, the annually increasing electric load raises the overload potential and the prospect of more frequent power outages in the area, affecting a greater number of customers in this immediate area and beyond.


Those outages also have the potential of spanning a longer period of time because such a circuit failure also could overload adjacent heavily loaded circuits, causing them to fail as well.  


O&R electric demand studies dating back to 2002 warned that such a development was possible and plans were made to avoid this situation. Those plans called for O&R to file a proposal with the Clarkstown Planning Board in 2008 to build a new electric substation for the area.


Since O&R filed its plans with the town of Clarkstown, O&R has participated in a comprehensive examination of its plans by state, county and town planning, public safety and legal officials, independent subject matter experts and the community through at least 20 public meetings and an extensive public comment period.


The result?


On December 14 last year, the Clarkstown Planning Board deemed the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) complete.


The FEIS is essentially a record that details O&R's plans for the substation construction and operations, questions raised about the plans by the Clarkstown Planning Board, its consultants and the general public, O&R's answers to those questions and the Clarkstown Planning Board’s decisions regarding those questions.


In the FEIS, the Clarkstown Planning Board made a number of key decisions concerning questions raised about the plans.


Based on O&R and Planning Board consultants’ reports, the Clarkstown Planning Board decided that there will be no significant impact to property values as a result of the project. Further, the Clarkstown Planning Board found that there will be no significant adverse environmental impacts associated with the electro-magnetic fields in the area resulting for this project.


The Clarkstown Planning Board agreed that there are sufficient fire control measures and response protocols in place for the proposed project. Further, the Clarkstown Planning Board accepted O&R’s plans for addressing a possible oil spill and storm water runoff as sufficient.


And, the Clarkstown Planning Board held that O&R's screening, traffic and lighting plans were adequate.


The Clarkstown Planning Board also decided that O&R's plans would meet noise code requirements provided O&R installs acoustical barriers around the natural gas regulator on the substation property to reduce sound levels.


O&R's proposal continues its way through the approval process, which includes review by approximately a dozen boards and agencies, including the Clarkstown Architecture and Historic Review Board, the Clarkstown Antenna Advisor Board, the Rockland County Health Department and the Rockland County Drainage Agency. Some of those reviews cannot begin until the Clarkstown Planning Board approves the project’s site plan.


The timeline for such a decision is set by the Clarkstown Planning Board based on a number of factors, including favorable review by some of the previously mentioned boards and agencies.


The solution to the heavily loaded infrastructure — a solution that would bring that infrastructure into compliance with O&R’s reliable operation standards — is the construction of a new electric substation at the southwestern corner of North Little Tor Road and South Mountain Road.