Upstate Upgrade FAQs

National Grid is building a smarter, stronger, cleaner energy grid to create a more robust, resilient, and secure energy network for our customers and communities. The Upstate Upgrade involves upgrading the energy delivery network to improve resiliency and reliability, and to connect clean energy produced right here in New York. These multi-year initiatives will be located across Upstate New York and include replacing and rebuilding transmission lines, building and reconfiguring substations, and deploying state-of-the-art technologies to provide customers access to more information and choices.

The projects will improve service to our 1.7 million customers, benefit the regional economy by bringing new construction jobs and associated spending to local businesses, and support the goals of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

We also have a separate project FAQ and permitting process page with additional information.

    The Upstate Upgrade refers collectively to the dozens of National Grid electric transmission infrastructure projects across Upstate New York. These projects include rebuilding and replacing legacy infrastructure, as well as new construction to modernize, strengthen, and expand the capacity of our Upstate New York electric grid. The goal of these projects is to increase reliability and efficiency, and prepare the grid to meet future growth in electricity demand. 

    Additionally, much of this work is being done to achieve standards set by state law. New York’s Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act of 2019, or CLCPA, sets clean energy goals for the state.  

    Today’s electric grid works around the clock to deliver safe, reliable power to our customers and communities, but it faces several challenges. Climate change is making extreme temperatures and severe weather conditions more common, and this can increase outages and cause damage to wires, poles and other equipment that delivers energy to our homes and businesses. Additionally, today’s infrastructure requires improvements and modernization to meet the expanded electricity needs of our growing economy and to power more electrical devices and appliances than ever before. And, while the current transmission system has served Upstate New York well for more than a century, it wasn’t designed to connect and transport the amounts of wind and solar power that will be produced in our region.

    That’s why National Grid’s highly skilled workforce is building a smarter, stronger, cleaner energy grid to deliver a more robust, resilient, and secure energy network. Our work involves upgrading the transmission grid to improve resiliency and reliability, and connect clean energy produced right here in our region. These initiatives will improve electric service for our residential and business customers and benefit local economies by bringing new construction jobs and associated spending to our communities.  

    These upgrades also will help New York State meet the goals set in the New York State Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act of 2019

    The Upstate Upgrade will improve reliability and resilience for decades to come. That means outages will be even rarer and when they do occur, power can be restored quicker. Across Upstate, the effort will create over 1,700 new jobs and bring with it at least $1.9 billion in overall economic output during and after construction. The Upstate Upgrade also will create thousands of additional jobs through resultant economic growth, which will bolster our growing economy for future job creators and will attract new innovators to our communities. 

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    Locally, each construction project will improve reliability and resilience and bring economic activity into the community before, during, and after construction. While each project will have a different impact based on size and scope, communities may see a benefit in everything from jobs created to build and maintain upgrades, to increased spending at the local shops and businesses those workers frequent. Below are some examples. Visit our Project Hub to find out more.

    • Reliability and Resilience – These projects will reinforce and upgrade infrastructure, while providing greater resilience and reducing outages in the face of increasingly frequent extreme weather events. For example, our work in Central New York and the North Country alone will increase system capacity by 2,400 megawatts – that’s enough to power almost 10% of the state’s peak power needs. This prepares the grid for future demand as customers’ electricity needs grow and change.
    • New, Local Jobs – These projects will bring new jobs in construction and infrastructure development. They will employ over 1,700 workers, the majority hired locally. These workers will patronize local businesses; construction teams often stay for extended periods in local hotels and motels, shop at local stores, dine at local restaurants, and fuel their vehicles at local gas stations.  
    • Strengthen New York’s Economy – The Upstate Upgrade will enable economic growth by meeting the electric demands of new and growing industries like semiconductor manufacturing that are revitalizing the Upstate economy, which in turn encourages new business investments in New York and creates new jobs. These investments are forecasted to generate a total of up to 2% economic growth in the host counties through 2030 and generate thousands of additional jobs even after construction is completed.
    • Enabling New Technology for Homes and Businesses – These upgrades will make it possible for more New Yorkers to adopt electric vehicles, heat pumps and other emerging technologies at their homes and businesses. As these businesses grow, so will the demand for a workforce to install and maintain these devices, providing new jobs for future generations.
    • Environmental Health – These projects will support new renewable energy generation, which will create healthier air for children and families by reducing pollution associated with legacy electricity production. More renewable energy means lower greenhouse gas emissions, furthering New York’s efforts to lead in the fight against climate change and the extreme weather it brings.
    • Clean Energy Independence – These upgrades will advance the state’s efforts to achieve 70% renewable electricity by 2030 by adding transmission capacity and providing New Yorkers with greater access to clean power produced in-state, enabling our clean energy independence. As a result, we’ll replace out-of-state fossil fuels with clean electricity produced here, increasing control over our own economic and energy futures. 

    The New York State Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act, or CLCPA, is a law passed by the New York State Legislature and signed by the governor in 2019. The CLCPA is among the most ambitious climate laws in the nation and requires New York to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. 

    Electricity is generated from any number of sources – hydroelectric plants, nuclear, wind and solar installations, and legacy fuel-burning facilities. Electricity from these plants is sent across high-capacity wires called transmission lines. These wires are most commonly seen attached to tall transmission towers made of steel and wood.

    Transmission lines are the backbone of our electric system. These wires bring electricity to substations, which scale the power down so it can safely transfer to our distribution network. These lower capacity distribution network lines are used by National Grid to deliver electricity to your home or business. Learn more about how National Grid’s transmission system works here. 

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    In National Grid’s Upstate service area alone, we’re working to resolve overloads on 1,000 miles of electric transmission lines through modernizing and rebuilding the lines, some of which date back to the Great Depression.  We are replacing existing lines and rebuilding where current lines exist today to minimize community impacts. 

    National Grid employs thousands of people across New York. We will expand that workforce to support the design and completion of these upgrades by working with contractors, construction companies and other service providers, and intend to engage local businesses whenever possible. We remain committed to being a good neighbor in our communities as we hire for Upstate Upgrade construction jobs. 

    The initial phase of the Upstate Upgrade, which includes critical transmission projects, must be completed within the next six years. This timeline is vital to improve safety and reliability and ensure the grid can accommodate customers’ electricity demand and the renewable energy generation needed to meet the state’s 2030 clean energy goals.

    Overall, this phase of the Upstate Upgrade is scheduled to be completed by 2030. Each individual project has its own timeline that you can find at our Project Hub

    The number of people hired for a specific project is based on its size. According to third party analysis of Upstate Upgrade work by the consultancy West Monroe, National Grid expects to create over 1,700 jobs directly, including construction and engineering work. More than half of these jobs will be hired locally. Thousands more indirect jobs are expected to be created during and after the construction period in local businesses such as hospitality and restaurant staff, encouraging future economic development in the region. All told, these projects are expected to generate more than $1.9 billion in overall economic output. The analysis also forecasts the Upstate Upgrade will create up to 2% economic growth in the project areas through 2030.  

    There are dozens of projects scheduled over the next six years across Upstate. 

    As a collection of dozens of projects to modernize Upstate’s electric grid, the work neighbors will see will differ for each initiative. Visit our Project Hub to learn more about each individual project.

    Yes. With increasing demand on our electric grid, National Grid is staying ahead of the curve by upgrading to meet the expanded electricity needs of our growing economy and power more of our customers’ electronic devices than ever before. We are also modernizing and replacing long-lived infrastructure with the most recent standards for safety and reliability.  

    New York’s CLCPA mandates that the state’s regulated energy delivery companies upgrade their systems to meet statewide climate targets. In addition, electricity demand is projected to increase over the coming decades to a point where it will exceed the capacity of the current grid. Grid expansions and upgrades are necessary so that safe, reliable delivery of power won’t be jeopardized. 

    All of New York’s regulated energy delivery companies are undertaking similar upgrades in the regions they serve. 

    Yes. Each upgrade will bring new, modern materials and technologies to legacy systems that will increase reliability and efficiency across the grid. 

    By reinforcing and upgrading infrastructure like transmission lines and substations, the Upstate Upgrade will provide greater resilience in the face of increasingly frequent extreme weather, such as blizzards, tornadoes, and storms with high winds, which are destructive to grid infrastructure. That means fewer outages in the future and, when outages do happen, power can be restored quicker.  

    Much of Upstate’s energy infrastructure was built in the first half of the 20th century. Those investments have served generations of New Yorkers and were critical to Upstate’s economic growth for decades. 

    Since then, greater demands have been put on the electric grid to power computers, mobile devices, and home and business appliances. Increasing adoption of electric vehicles and heat pumps place greater demand on our network. Upgraded power lines also will help meet the electric demands of industries like semiconductor manufacturing that are revitalizing the Upstate economy and creating new jobs. National Grid conducts in-depth research to determine the best, most efficient, and cost-effective ways to transmit power to customers across New York.

    These lines will help meet our customers’ needs today, as well as the next generations to come.  We are replacing existing lines and rebuilding where current lines exist today to minimize community impacts. 

    National Grid plans to invest more than $4 billion in the Upstate Upgrade to rebuild or modernize more than 1,000 miles of our transmission system to improve reliability and resilience. Our work includes:

    • Reinforcing/rebuilding the high-voltage backbone of Upstate New York’s electric grid
    • Upgrading or building 45+ substations
    • Installing state-of-the-art technologies to improve reliability & resiliency.

    In addition to transmission line upgrades, the Upstate Upgrade will include:

    • The replacement of wooden transmission poles with larger steel poles. The new structures are sturdier and better able to withstand the punishing effects of Upstate New York winters. They also have the ability to carry longer lengths of wire over greater distances, reducing the number of poles that need to be installed.
    • Technologies like dynamic line rating, which monitor the line and weather conditions to maximize the amount of electricity that can be transmitted.
    • Advanced security measures to safeguard our assets from external threats. 

    Safety is the first priority in every National Grid project. Our current electric grid is safe, but it requires upgrades to continue to safely connect and deliver the additional power needed to meet future customer demand. Our upgrades will expand our network’s capacity, allowing additional electricity to safely flow from the point where it is produced to your home or business. 

    National Grid’s control centers monitor our networks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our encrypted systems enable us to detect and protect our network to keep energy flowing. We work closely with government, industry partners and regulators to protect our network from current and future threats. We also undergo rigorous security audits administered by multiple federal agencies as well as our state regulators.  

    Our upgrades will enable an even more robust, resilient and secure grid that reliably delivers power in the face of more extreme weather and other threats by hardening our physical infrastructure, securing our networks and data, and continuously maintaining the system to identify and prevent potential issues. 

    Each project is unique, and will fall into one of three permitting categories, depending on the project scope. For some of our smaller projects, like an upgraded or new substation, local permitting will be required. Depending on mileage and voltage, transmission line projects will be permitted under either Part 102 of the Public Service Commission’s rules, or Article VII of the Public Service Law. Both processes include Public Service Commission review and approval of the project design and environmental impacts, and construction of the project is overseen by the Department of Public Service. Other permits may be required, like a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting, or local highway permits. Learn more about the permitting process

    National Grid either owns or holds the rights to a significant amount of real property across the state, which supports our current infrastructure. In some instances, completing these projects will require the surveying and potential acquisition of additional property rights. When this is the case, National Grid’s real estate group will contact and work directly with landowners to negotiate any required property rights. Our commitment is to work with property owners and the local community to achieve reasonable, cost-effective solutions while disrupting the property owners and the community as little as possible. 

    Our infrastructure initiatives have been designed to maximize the use of National Grid’s existing rights of way and minimize impact on local communities and the environment. These projects focus on rebuilding existing transmission lines where they already are, further minimizing any impact. In the event there is no alternative route, we will work collaboratively with what is expected to be a limited number of landowners along the construction corridor near the existing line and offer fair compensation for any parcels of land required for these projects. Using eminent domain is a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. 

    Electromagnetic Fields, or EMFs, can arise from many sources including household appliances, electrical distribution and transmission facilities and equipment, mobile phones and tablets, and radio transmission devices. Research shows that there is no data that demonstrates a correlation between adverse health impacts and the typical electric and magnetic fields created by electric transmission lines. The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted comprehensive reviews of EMF health-effects research and existing standards and guidelines. The WHO website for International EMF Project states: “[T]he main conclusion from the WHO reviews is that EMF exposures below the limits recommended in the ICNIRP international guidelines do not appear to have any known consequence on health.

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    For the first phase of projects approved by the Public Service Commission, the monthly bill impact for a typical residence in National Grid’s territory is expected to be about that of a candy bar. These projects will address near-term reliability needs and will generate real-time economic benefit, while readying the grid for clean energy. 

    By increasing our transmission capacity and efficiency, National Grid is preparing for the next generation of electrification. With new and improved transmission infrastructure we can transmit more power more efficiently to customers to meet increased energy demand from new businesses and technologies like electric vehicles and heat pumps, as well as connect and deliver cleaner energy. A smarter, more efficient grid also reduces the amount of energy that is lost in the process of transmitting it across long distances. And by offering consumers more choice and options to help them save energy and manage their energy bills, this delivers a win-win for customers and the environment.  

    Yes. National Grid’s upgrades support current and future electricity demands on the grid, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and connecting clean energy produced right here in Upstate New York. We conduct an in-depth survey for each project to carefully examine environmental impacts and determine how we can minimize disruption to ecosystems. 

    Smart Path Connect, part of the Upstate Upgrade, is a multi-phase portfolio of projects National Grid is undertaking together with the New York Power Authority that includes the rebuild of more than 100 miles of transmission lines in the Mohawk Valley and Northern New York and the upgrade of multiple substations. National Grid is responsible for the project’s Southern Alignment, a 55-mile section of the project between the Village of Croghan and the Town of Marcy. When completed in 2025, Smart Path Connect will allow for increased power transfer capacity, enable the flow of more renewable energy, and enhance reliability and resiliency of the state power grid. 

    Project neighbors will be informed of local projects as they progress and will have opportunities to provide input along the way. Typically, projects will be introduced, and updates provided via direct mail (letters and postcards), as well as on project websites. A neighbor can expect to receive about two to four mailings per year regarding a project, from permitting to construction. Direct contact information for the project team will be available on these mailings so neighbors can ask questions at any time. Some projects, including those that go through the most complex permitting processes, will have increased notifications, highlighting opportunities for the public to provide comment, like at an open house. Neighbors will be informed at least two weeks prior to the start of construction. Customers also can use this website to learn about current and upcoming projects that support the Upstate Upgrade.

    National Grid invites comments from the public at any time during project development, construction and operation phases. There are numerous avenues to provide feedback, including through our dedicated phone line: 800-390-6634 and email: [email protected], one-on-one discussions and public information sessions. Our infrastructure investments and improvements will take a highly coordinated effort and we are committed to working with all of our partners, including customers, communities, government and industry to ensure success. 

    Many projects were originally identified to meet local reliability and resilience needs. As we modernize our system, National Grid has designed these and other projects to increase the amount of clean energy and power that can be generated and delivered to all New Yorkers.  

    These projects will improve power flow not only locally, but between multiple regions of the state, including Western New York, the Mohawk Valley, the North Country and the Capital Region. Overall, these projects enhance different parts of the statewide transmission system. This includes improving deliverability of power from Upstate – supporting its unique renewable energy potential for all New Yorkers.