League stands up in power line fight

Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:30 am | Updated: 12:18 am, Sat Mar 1, 2014.
By Adam Clayton Columbia-Greene Media


David Lee/Columbia-Greene Media
Gathered in the Omi Visitors Center under a sculpture by Janet Echelman, people listened as community organizers and elected officials spoke. Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League of New York State made the announcement of the designation of historical and cultural assets of Columbia County to be among the seven most threatened in the state for 2014-15.

The Preservation League of New York announced at the Omi International Arts Center on Monday the addition of the historic and cultural resources of Columbia County to its Seven to Save, a list of the state’s most threatened historic resources.

The addition to the list, said league President Jay DiLorenzo, was made to fully support the fight against the proposed power line slated to run through Ghent.

In 2012, New York State Electric and Gas, also known as NYSEG, proposed an 11.1-mile, 115-kilovolt high-voltage power line through the town of Ghent, intended as back-up to an existing line.

Under the proposal, the power line will weave through agricultural farmlands, including multigenerational family farms, land under conservation easement, cut through Omi’s sculpture fields, and make its way through a community filled with historic homes.  read more

EDITORIAL: Power lines affect us all

The Columbia Paper
Thursday, 27 February 2014 12:05


ICE! WHO NEEDS THE STUFF? OK, polar bears and penguins, but what do they know about sidewalks? Windshields? Roofs?! People old enough to refer to a season like this as “the way winter used to be” understand this. So how come last month was the fourth warmest January since people started keeping accurate records?

The polar vortex, our unwelcome guest this season, is long overdue for a one-way trip home. But the temperature data don’t lie. January’s warmth reflects worldwide measurements consistent with patterns and predictions for a changing climate. Our shocked reaction to this year’s prolonged cold and snow in our region–weather that was typical just a few decades ago–serves as a reminder of how fast the surface of the Earth is heating up and how likely it is that the trend will continue.

We media folks have focused this winter on the cost and availability of natural gas, fuel oil and electricity. The need for the first two will fade soon (let’s hope), but use of electricity peaks in summer, and if we see summer temperatures as extreme as the cold spells we’re experiencing now, the demand could strain the ability of the power grid to provide electricity. The power companies know this and are making plans to address it. Those plans involve the land of people who live in Ghent. And in Stuyvesant and Stockport, Greenport, Claverack, Livingston, Clermont and Gallatin.

The last six of these towns lie along on routes where three companies have proposed stringing new high voltage (345 Kilovolt) lines that connect upstate power producers to customers in and around New York City. Ghent is a different proposition. In Ghent the power company NYSEG is asking the state for permission to run a line across the town to serve as a backup source of power for southern parts of this county. It sounds prudent and small enough, at 11.5 miles, to be a routine project unworthy of much attention, or so the company may have hoped. But this week Ghent emerged as the case that will test whether citizens can make a large corporation and government regulators behave a little more like they live on the same planet as the rest of us.

Protect Ghent, the non-profit local group led by Koethi Zan, simply wants the company to rethink how it will get power across the town. Instead of huge poles and high cables that distort the town’s historic patterns of settlement and agriculture with new rights of way and easements that slice across the landscape, Protect Ghent has suggested better solutions. One option involves using a lower voltage cable that hangs from standard utility poles along existing highways. There may be others, including burying the line. read more

New friend buoys power line resistance

The Columbia Paper
Thursday, 27 February 2014 12:15

OMI–County residents seeking to minimize the impact of proposed high voltage power lines through as many as seven local communities enlisted a prominent new ally this week with the announcement by the Preservation League of New York State that the county’s cultural and historic resources have been added to the league’s list of “Seven to Save.”

The designation was announced Monday, February 24, to more than 50 people gathered at The Fields at Omi sculpture park visitors center in the Town of Ghent. League President Jay DiLorenzo said that being on the list signifies that valuable resources are threatened and his statewide organization will provide technical support and possibly some financial aid to the local effort to preserve irreplaceable assets.

The most immediate issue involving power lines is the proposal by the utility NYSEG, New York State Electric and Gas, to run new line 11.5 miles through Ghent to provide a backup source of electricity to communities further south in the county. The plan was introduced almost two years ago and is currently before the state Public Service Commission, which must determine whether the line is necessary and, if it is, whether NYSEG’s technical plan is the best way to accomplish the task.

A local non-profit group called Protect Ghent has embraced an alternative approach using lower voltages on conventional utility poles. read more

Protect Ghent update 01.30.2014

Protect Ghent update 01.30.2014

Over the last month or so, NYSEG engineers have met with engineers for the other parties to the case (including Protect Ghent’s engineer and PSC staff engineers) to explore the feasibility of the 34.5 kv line proposed by DPS. On February 26th, NYSEG will submit to the Judge its analysis of the 34.5 kv line along with its pricing estimates. The schedule for the hearings (or, potentially, settlement negotiations) will be set only after these materials are received.

Protect Ghent still firmly supports this low voltage alternative. Attached is a schematic diagram of this proposed 34.5 kv line. This line will run along regular-height poles, on roadways, and in most cases, will take the form of upgrades to existing lines. This 34.5 kv line (as seen on the diagram) mostly runs along Falls Road, 9H, Old Post Road, CR 22, George Road and Orchard Road – but again, this is NOT a high-voltage power line. It will look like the vast number of other low voltage power lines running along our roads.

We are hopeful that NYSEG will conduct a fair analysis of this alternative, and will recognize that, in our case, the 34.5 kv line would spare our community from a new high voltage power line on untouched, scenic rural lands–a line that would seriously damage, if not destroy, our property values, our view shed, and our farmlands. A low voltage alternative in this case would also be consistent with Governor Cuomo’s proposed incentives for high voltage lines to be built only within the three dimensions of existing rights of way.

We will update you as soon as we receive NYSEG’s analysis.

In the meantime, please SAVE THE DATE: February 24 at 2 pm. Protect Ghent and Art Omi will be hosting an event at the Visitors Center (on County Route 22) for an important announcement. Please join us for refreshments, special guests, community spirit, and some good news.

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


Update on web cast/teleconference
The public is invited to tune into these hearing via the web cast/teleconference but only those parties proposing routing are allowed to comment.

On 11/20/2013 there is a Public Service Commission hearing in Albany on the technical aspects of alternative routing proposals. This hearing will be web cast and teleconferenced.

If you plan to view the 11/20/13 web cast regarding Case 12-T-0248 (NYSEG/Columbia County Transmission Project) please see the instructions listed below. The web cast will start at 10:15 a.m.

To view the web cast:

1. Go to this website:
2. Then find: DPS 11/20/2013 and click on it.

Please use the following telephone bridge information:
Toll-free dial-in number:

Conference Code:
69328 46892 #

Protect Ghent update 11.04.2013

On October 29th, the PSC staff, Ag & Markets, Protect Ghent and Benjy Swett submitted alternative routes for the proposed power lines. The Judge has scheduled a conference call for November 6 for the parties to have a preliminary discussion of these proposals and on November 20 there will be a technical conference for the parties and their respective technical experts to discuss which of the possibilities are feasible. Then site visits will be scheduled for the alternatives in play, and the current schedule calls for hearings beginning in January, during which the parties will put on their direct cases in support of the alternatives they have proposed.

Here is a breakdown of the alternatives (with links to maps and descriptions of the proposed alternatives):

1- PSC Proposals:
The PSC has proposed a low-voltage alternative, and, as a back-up, some changes to the original 115 kv plan. 

PSC Staff’s Low Voltage Proposal
If the low-voltage (34.5kv) alternative is selected, this would mean regular-sized utility poles would run along the map shown.  View PSC Staff’s Low Voltage Proposal.

The PSC staff has stated that this low voltage alternative actually provides more reliability and flexibility than NYSEG’s 115kv proposal.  We are studying this proposal at Protect Ghent, and having our experts take a look at it as well. At first glance, this proposal looks very promising. Although there will be new lines, they will be regular poles and will have much less of a negative visual and environmental impact.

PSC Staff’s 115 kv Alternative
If the Judge determined that a 115kv system is required, the PSC has proposed a back-up alternative, which makes slight changes to NYSEG’s original proposal: Protect Ghent would oppose this proposal, as it is only slightly different from NYSEG’s proposal. View PSC Staff’s 115 kv Alternative.

2 – Ag & Markets Proposal: 
Ag & Markets has proposed a slight variation on the NYSEG proposal. Their sole objective is to minimize impacts to farmland – they do not have the directive to take into account other issues (environmental, view sheds, historical resources, etc.).  Therefore, their proposal moves the line slightly, but leave it basically intact: Though we appreciate the improvements made for the benefit of farmers, Protect Ghent would oppose this proposal as well as it is only slightly different from NYSEG’s proposal and does not address the other resources the line would have an impact on. View the Ag & Markets Proposal.

3 – Protect Ghent’s Proposals:
Protect Ghent has proposed three alternatives below:

NYSEG’s original plan to provide more reliability and backup to the Churchtown-Craryville line, was to create a connection between the Klinekill substation in Chatham and the Valkin station in Valatie.  Protect Ghent would like that proposal reconsidered, because most of the route follows the existing CSX railway easement (and therefore will not require new rights of way and will fall within the cargo rail line).  It does require a mile and a half of new rights of way, which could be short enough to make undergrounding the lines cost-effective. NYSEG had abandoned this proposal because of congestion at the Valkin substation, but we believe this congestion could be handled through upgrades to the existing substation. View Protect Ghent’s Proposals.

Double-Circuiting Churchtown-Craryville
Double-circuiting (which is basically adding another line to run alongside the existing Churchtown-Craryville line as backup) was another of NYSEG’s original alternatives.

Low-Voltage Alternative
Protect Ghent also proposed a reconsideration of the original low-voltage proposal advanced by the Town of Ghent’s engineers at the beginning of this process.

4 – Benjamin Swett’s Proposals:
Benjamin Swett has proposed replacing a failure-prone segment of the current Churchtown-Craryville line under the Taconic with a better line or an overhead line and increasing capacity with a Klinekill-Valkin line.  He also suggested donating the money to build the line instead to a project to buy solar panels as backup electricity. View Benjamin’s Proposal.

We will provide another update after the November 6th conference call.

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