Protecting rivers and their communities by resisting megadams and their transmission corridors
Controversy over Blackstone’s NY transmission corridor
The proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) is a 333-mile long 1,000-megawatt high voltage direct current (HVDC) power line consisting of bi-directional cables — two cables side by side running to and from Quebec to New York City.
Lucien Wabanonik is an elected councilor with Lac Simon’s band council in Quebec. Lucien’s community has been heavily impacted by megadam development.
Here is his message to New Yorkers and elected officials that are considering hydropower imports.
Tell New York and Governor Kathy Hochul to not procure Canadian hydropower extracted from Indigenous lands in Canada.
Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private equity and hedge fund firms is the developer. It has created limited liability corporations and calls the developer “Transmission Developers Inc.” (TDI). The $3 billion project will create only 26 direct, full-time jobs for New Yorkers according to Blackstone’s 2014 environmental impact statement. The electricity will be generated by Hydro-Quebec at its 63 generating stations in remote areas of Quebec and Labrador. Hydro-Quebec is government-owned and one of the largest utilities in the Western Hemisphere.
In 2013, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a permit called a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the 333-mile cable. See the permit here: CHPE NYS PSC Case 10-T-0139 Since then, Blackstone has amended the permit three times. The project no longer resembles the project the PSC approved in 2013.
Blackstone cannot start construction of CHPE without a 25-year contract with a buyer for 75% of the electricity. At this time, no contract has been announced. Blackstone had used Brattle Group to solicit offers of interest for CHPE.
Since Earth Day Day 2019, Mayor de Blasio and his administration have been secretly negotiating to buy electricity from Blackstone via CHPE. We call on the Mayor’s administration to withdraw from negotiations with Hydro-Quebec and Blackstone and instead pursue energy efficiency and renewable energy options locally in New York City. The New York City building decarbonization law, Local Law 97, allows for building owners to procure Renewable Energy Credits (RECS) instead of actually reducing their emissions. NAMRA does not support this provision which will promote Renewable Energy Credits from megadams.
On May 5, 2021, the Innu First Nation of Pessamit, the Atikamekw First Nation of Wemotaci, and the three Anishnabek First Nations of Pikogan, Lac Simon, and Kitcisakik sent a joint letter to New York City Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan denouncing and condemning the detrimental effects that CHPE would have on human rights, ancestral territories, climate change, and ecosystems. New York City is obligated to respect the rights of First Nations, their ancestral territories and obtain free prior and informed consent.
“Not a single impact assessment has been carried out for the construction of thirty-three (33) power stations in our traditional territories, which generate 36% of Hydro-Québec’s total installed capacity.”
On July 12, 2021, Hudson Riverkeeper sent a letter to former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo regarding the state’s selection process for projects to receive Tier 4 renewable energy credits. Riverkeeper urged Cuomo to take into full account the impacts of proposed projects on the Hudson River and at their source. CHPE would be a disaster for the Hudson River as well as its ecosystems and communities. The source of the power that CHPE would carry are Canadian megadams which damage rivers, violate human rights, and release potent greenhouse gases.
On May 5, 2020, NAMRA signed onto the Peoples Climate Movement of New York released an open letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Borough Presidents Adams, Brewer, Diaz Jr., Lee, and Oddo, Council Speaker Corey Johnson and All Members of the NYC Council on the connection between the COVID-19 crisis, the climate crisis, and the bold next steps forward for the economic crisis. This letter asks New York leaders to commit to fighting the climate crisis in a fair, just, and equitable way.
On October 8, 2020, NAMRA joined the Center for Biological Diversity and the Innu of Labrador in filing a formal notice letter with the U.S. Department of Energy over its failure to fully address the environmental impacts of CHPE. This project would threaten endangered Atlantic Sturgeon Habitat in the Hudson River and also threatens Indigenous communities in Canada and their environment.
CHPE is not a fair, just, or equitable solution to the climate or economic crisis that New York faces. It places the burdens of American electricity use on the backs of front-line, Indigenous communities in Canada where this power is being produced by megadams.
July 12, 2021: Hudson Riverkeeper Letter to Governor Cuomo urging New York to protect the Hudson River and oppose CHPE:
May 5, 2021 letter from a coalition of five hydro-impacted First Nations to the Deputy Mayor of New York regarding the Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) transmission corridor and Canadian hydropower
On April 22, 2019, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio announced a Green New Deal for the City which includes negotiations towards Hydro-Quebec power from Canada. In a simultaneous press release, Hydro-Quebec embraced the chance to get the stalled CHPE project going.
CHPE is fraught with problems and NAMRA opposes the project on environmental and social justice grounds. Unfortunately, most of the permits are in place.
The $2.2 billion that will be invested in the Blackstone CHPE project is money that should be spent on local energy efficiency and renewable energy projects thus creating local, long-term, and sustainable jobs. Locking in this infrastructure for destructive Canadian hydropower creates a disincentive for innovative, local energy solutions. CHPE is a greenwash and climate disaster.
November 17, 2020: Religious Organizations Along the River (ROAR) objects to CHPE.
November 18-19, 2019:Northeast U.S. Speaking Tour – held the third annual Megadams = Megadamage Speaking Tour this past November. This tour brought Indigenous and allied speakers from hydro-affected communities in Canada to the Northeast United States to speak with the general public and key decision-makers on the topic of Canadian hydropower and transmission corridors such as NECEC and the detrimental effects that these have on their communities and the environment. To view recordings of the tour, click here.
November 18, 2019:Hudson Riverkeeper withdraws support for CHPE.