The Ulster Town Board last week granted site plan approval and a special use permit for expansion plans on a Hurley Avenue substation near John A. Coleman Catholic High School owned by Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp.
At Jan. 17’s town board meeting, Ivan Hojsak of Central Hudson said the improvements were necessary to improve the flow of electricity from the substation. The substation was identified as a point of congestion following a study by New York Independent System Operator, which monitors the reliability of the state’s power system and helps coordinate the distribution of its electricity supply.
“In order to relieve that congestion we’re installing a series compensation device as part of the expansion,” said Hojsak. “Essentially, what the series compensation device is, is it acts as almost opening up more lanes on a highway. It’s going to allow us to maximize the utilization of the existing infrastructure in the area.”
The existing substation on 5.3 acres of land will be expanded by a further 2.5 acres. Upon completion the project will maximize the potential of the substation by more evenly distributing power than it does currently, with the possibility of up to 191 additional megawatts.
According to Hojsak, the new structure will reach a 77 feet in elevation, four feet higher than the current structure. “So a minimal change there,” he said.
A further structure could be 88 feet tall, but Hojsak said that the location will minimize its impact.
“Keep in mind the base elevation is at 236 feet above sea level,” Hojsak said. “The existing grade of the station is at 260 [feet] with a max height of 80 feet to the top of the tower. So it’s still going to come in below the existing dead-end station right now.”
Also included in the application are a proposed 15 “Smart Pods,” which would hold equipment, and three 65-foot tall A-frame structures that would hold 20-foot lightning masts.
Most of the materials relating to the project were submitted to the Town late last month, and Town Attorney Jason Kovacs said that it’s still in its early stages.
“This came out of the Planning Board,” he said. “This is the first step in the SEQR process.”
Caren LoBrutto, a senior planner with the Chazen Companies said there shouldn’t be any zoning issues with the project, even if there wasn’t already an existing substation on the property.
“It’s located in the office manufacturing district, where utility company structures are permitted by use,” she said.
Dave Young, also with Chazen, said that there wouldn’t be any further changes beyond what’s been identified.
“We have an access point off of Hurley Drive, but there will be no modifications on the road,” he said. “It will just be the same gravel drive that’s been there forever.”
Though Town Supervisor James Quigley III was not in attendance, councilmen unanimously approved the site plan approval and special-use permit requests.