About a year ago, NYSEG started having discussions with local towns about a possible new transmission line in our area of 115KV, with 75’-90’ poles with 150’ wide right of ways (to be obtained via eminent domain). There was a little local press coverage, but it was vague and for the most part indicated NYSEG’s willingness to work with the communities to come to a mutually satisfactory solution. The news articles didn’t present the specifics of the line location.
Over the next several months (we believe from Spring 2011 through late Summer or early Fall of that year) the Towns of Ghent and Kinderhook met with NYSEG many times. Engineers working with the Town of Ghent demonstrated that NYSEG can achieve its technical goals by upgrading the existing lines rather than building a new one. NYSEG rejected this alternative, saying that it was more expensive. We have also heard, but not confirmed, that NYSEG can get a rate increase if they build a new line, but it is more difficult for them if they merely upgrade the lines.
Recently, a group of us learned about this proposed power line for the first time. We found out that NYSEG rejected the Town’s proposed solution (i.e., upgrading the lines) and that NYSEG presented a plan to the Town Board last October, proposing the line shown on this google map.
In January, NYSEG sent a letter to the Town Attorney for Ghent stating that it planned to move forward with its plans to build this line, and it has since rejected any attempts made by the Town Board for further meetings.
To build a high voltage power line, NYSEG needs to obtain certain governmental approvals, depending on the length of the line. If the line is over 10 miles, NYSEG needs the approval of the New York State Public Service Commission (“PSC”). If the line is under 10 miles, the Town will be the so-called “lead agency” with the power to regulate the line, and therefore, theoretically, could reject the high voltage line and insist on a plan that requires an upgrade of the existing lines in lieu of a new line. The current line, which is drawn in a zig zag fashion, is over 10 miles, but if the line were straight, it would be less than 10 miles. NYSEG plans to file an application to the PSC for approval of the line. The Town has indicated that it will oppose the PSC’s jurisdiction on the grounds that the line could be less than 10 miles, and that NYSEG drew the line in a zig zag fashion simply to avoid the Town’s jurisdiction.
If the project moves forward before the PSC, there will be public hearings in front of an administrative law judge, and other agencies either must approve or have a consultation right with respect to the line. For example, DEC will have to approve the plan from an environmental perspective, and the State Historic Preservation Office will advise the PSC on the historic resources impact of the line. Once the application is filed with the PSC, we (as a citizens group) can file to be named a party in the case, and we will then receive notices and have a chance to present our perspective to the PSC.
WHERE WE ARE NOW:
NYSEG has not yet filed an application, but we expect them to do so soon. We have asked the Town to notify us when the application is filed (they will get written notice), but they have not committed to do so. Until then, we should check the Register Star because NYSEG is required to publish notice of its intent to file, and we can check the PSC website.
In the meantime, we have created a facebook page for updates. The map is there too for easy reference. Please “like” it, there will be more information coming up soon.
If you have any questions, comments, thoughts or ideas please let us know. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please add your name to our mailing list and suggest to others that they do the same.
Thanks to you all for your interest, concern and commitment. This could be a long and hard fight, but if we all pull together we believe we have a chance at winning!!!