Protect Ghent update 06.26.2014

6-26-2014 3-23-11 PM

We have created an interactive Google map to show the proposed 34.5 kv lines of the low voltage alternative, based on data received from NYSEG.

A few notes on the map:
This proposed line would be built in stages. The first stage will be based on current need. Future lines will be built if and only if the load increases and the need arises. Much of the low voltage line consists of improvements to existing distribution lines, rather than new lines. Most of the time, those current lines would be rebuilt with taller poles in the same locations. (For a good example of what a rebuild looks like, you can drive down Leggett Road, where they have recently replaced many of the poles but have not yet removed the original poles.)

Therefore, with our map, you can add layers based on which of the proposed low voltage lines you’d like to see. The box in the upper left hand corner of the map allows you to select to see “Current Need – New Lines,” “Current Need – Existing Lines,” “Future Need – New Lines,” and/or “Future Need – Existing Lines.” You can see all categories, a single category, or multiple categories at once. You can type your address into the space to the right of the box to find your property. You can click on a line to see its attributes. You can also switch the map to “street map” or “satellite” view (with the satellite view you will be able to see that even some of the lines designated as “new” by NYSEG appear to run along existing lines).

If these proposed lines cross (or are close to) your property, you will be receiving a notice from NYSEG shortly about open houses to be held in the month of July. We will be there to answer any questions, but you can also email us in the meantime.

As we’ve said before, we fully support this low voltage alternative, and believe this proposed line will have the least impact of any alternative. From the beginning the Town of Ghent has proposed a low voltage solution, and we join them in believing that’s the best alternative for our community. Because this would be a low voltage line, running along roads, with much shorter poles than a high voltage line, these proposed lines would fit in with the existing energy grid and look normal for the area.

Also, importantly, an improved 34.5 kv line running along roads will not serve as the basis for turning our area into a utility corridor for future high voltage lines. As we’ve seen in the AC fight, once there’s a high voltage line in an area, utility companies tend to want to build more lines on that existing right of way.

Another very important thing to remember is that DPS has informed us that our current 34.5 kv distribution system needs these improvements anyway. So either these changes, or something very like them, would have to be done at some point ANYWAY, high voltage line or not.

Please email us at protectghent@gmail.com with any questions.

Big news about our power line fight

WE’RE GOING INTO SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS FOR A LOW VOLTAGE LINE!
You will soon receive a formal notice from NYSEG stating that the active parties to the Columbia County Transmission Line case (NYSEG, DPS, the Town of Ghent, Protect Ghent, Benjy Swett, Dept. of Ag & Markets and DEC) have agreed to enter into settlement negotiations focused on the DPS-proposed 34.5 kv low voltage alternative (the “Low Voltage Line”)!

It’s not over yet–there are certainly details in dispute–but Protect Ghent is cautiously optimistic. We support the Low Voltage Line and believe it will have the least impact on our community of any proposal. Plus, an added benefit of the Low Voltage Line is that it strengthens our local energy distribution grid. A low voltage solution is what the Town of Ghent proposed and has supported from Day 1, and has been advanced now by DPS Staff, with Protect Ghent’s support.

CONFIDENTIALITY RESTRICTIONS:
Please note that the settlement negotiations will be confidential, so we won’t be reporting on the exact details but will let you know all we can. You can, however, rest assured that Protect Ghent will not settle for any solution that does not comport with our mission.

NEXT STEPS:
The next step is that NYSEG will be sending out a notice to landowners affected by the Low Voltage Line, and will hold some public meetings (and we will be there as well of course). Over the summer, the active parties will have a series of confidential settlement meetings to hammer out the details. If no resolution can be found, back-up hearing dates have been tentatively set for the fall. We’re hopeful we won’t need them!

WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PROPOSED DPS LOW VOLTAGE LINE:
1 – Most of the Low Voltage Line will be on existing rights of way (either on existing poles and lines or existing poles and lines will be rebuilt and upgraded).

2 – The Low Voltage Line runs alongside roads on regular-height poles.

3 – Even if NYSEG were to build the 115 kv line it had originally proposed, NYSEG would have to implement some, if not most, of these upgrades/rebuilds for the existing 34.5 kv infrastructure anyway. In other words, the Low Voltage Line (or something very similar) would have to be built whether they build the high voltage line or not. And you may have noticed that NYSEG is actually already upgrading 34.5 kV poles in many areas of the Town, such as along Leggett Road.  The proposal currently under discussion would look very much like those upgrades.

MAP OF LOW VOLTAGE LINE:
You can view the current proposals here. The key at the bottom of each map indicates which segments are new vs. existing vs. upgrades, and which segments are anticipated to be built in the short-term and which might need to be built in the future.

For a quick snapshot view, we have created a combined map with all segments on which we’ve isolated the NEW segments of Low Voltage Line right of way (marked in yellow). All other segments of the proposed line (based on current mapping) would be built on existing poles and lines OR the existing poles and lines would be rebuilt and upgraded (but would be substantially similar).  Also take note that in some cases (such as along Route 9) there is no existing power line, but there are existing poles and lines for telephone/cable etc. It is possible that the new 34.5 kv line would be able to be placed on those poles, or those poles could be upgraded and all utilities could exist on those lines.

The feeder maps were provided by NYSEG. We have requested shape files which will allow us to create an interactive Google map showing these proposed lines.

Please let us know if you have any questions:  protectghent@gmail.com.

Crossing Wires

Addendum item 50

Efforts to protect the agricultural landscapes of Columbia County from proliferating power lines are now a statewide concern

Metroland
by Ann Morrow on March 6, 2014

Columbia County is widely famed for the beauty of its bucolic farmland, historic houses, and verdant Hudson Valley vistas. These vistas, and the county’s identity—its most important activities are agriculture and tourism—could be adversely impacted by a proposed 11.1-mile high-voltage power line that would run through the town of Ghent, bisecting multigenerational farmsteads and woods and streams, and marring the region’s picturesque viewshed. It would intrude on Art Omi’s 150-acre public sculpture park, and detract from a house dating to 1760. The 115-kilowatt transmission line would also require an unknown number of towers throughout the area. A grassroots advocacy group, Protect Ghent, was formed in opposition to the power line in 2012, when New York State Electric and Gas first proposed it.

On Feb. 25, local efforts to preserve the scenic rural character of Ghent went statewide when the Preservation League of New York State announced the addition of the historic and cultural resources of Columbia County to its 2014 Seven to Save list. The annual list designates the most threatened properties in the state. Preservation League president Jay Lorenzo made the announcement at a conference held at Omi International Arts Center, which is situated amid rolling hills and fruit orchards.

The meeting included state representatives and local residents; the director of the Columbia County Land Conservancy; Koethi Zan, executive director of Protect Ghent; and Erin Tobin, the league’s regional director for technical and grant programs. read more

Protect Ghent update 03.04.2013

Last week, NYSEG submitted the first part of its analysis* of the low-voltage alternative. Today, DPS staff filed comments to the NYSEG analysis.

NYSEG’s highly technical analysis includes an engineering review, NYSEG’s proposed routing for the low voltage alternative, and a cost comparison to the proposed 115 kv line. On the engineering front, the gist of their assessment is that the low voltage alternative will work, with some changes they suggest. In the DPS response, DPS staff questions many of the suggested changes proposed by NYSEG.

On the routing, keep in mind these are regular-height poles running along roads, often on existing lines. And, as you review them, note that most of the lines as drawn are not anticipated to be needed or built, but are lines that could be built out in the future if load growth exceeds what is projected. In contrast, the DPS map of the low voltage alternative is here.

On the cost front, the low voltage alternative has been divided into two phases, Phase I and Phase II. NYSEG has acknowledged that Phase I is all that is needed for the foreseeable future in terms of load growth. They have priced the high voltage alternative at around $39 million, Phase I of the low voltage alternative at around $35 million, and the combined Phase I and Phase II of the low voltage at around $58 million. DPS questions many of the cost estimates included in the NYSEG analysis, indicating that NYSEG has overestimated costs for the low voltage line.

NYSEG is scheduled to deliver additional materials relating to their evaluation in April. DPS has proposed April 21st for an on-the-record procedural conference. We’ll keep you posted on the scheduling when finalized.

The upshot of all of this is that the low-voltage alternative is still very much in the running, and we remain cautiously optimistic as we move forward. We are very grateful for DPS staff’s thorough and careful review of these materials.

* additional filing documents can be viewed at the PSC website

Please let us know if you have any questions: protectghent@gmail.com.