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Democrat Photo By Ted Waddell

NYRI lawyer Leonard Singer, center, addresses the panel at last Thursday’s public meeting in Ferndale. He is flanked New York State NYRI representatives Bill May and Robert Malecki.

NYRI Plan Sparks Local Opposition

By Ted Waddell
FERNDALE — August 25, 2006 — New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI), Inc. wants to build a series of 85-130 foot 400kV direct current electric transmission line towers stretching about 190 miles from Oneida County through parts of Sullivan County to Orange County.
As it affects the residents of eight counties along the proposed route, opposition is mounting, and in the wake of several NYRI informational meetings and grassroots gatherings to block the $1.7 billion project, on Thursday, August 17, NYS Assemblyman Paul D. Tonko, chairman of the assembly’s energy commission, chaired a public hearing at CVI headquarters to hear witness testimony for and against the NYRI project.
Several critical issues were brought to the table: how the proposed HVDC transmission line will address the state’s current energy needs and if it’s consistent with the state’s energy policy; public participation in the mandated Article VII application review process; potential impacts on electric consumer bills; effects on homeowners and businesses along the proposed route; environmental and health concerns associated with the transmission lines, including the impact on areas of special environmental significance, such as designated along the Upper Delaware River (in 1978, 73.4 miles were included in Wild & Scenic Rivers Act of 1976).
In addition, the spectre of a private company taking privately-owned land through the power of eminent domain by preemption of states’ rights based upon a provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 were discussed during the public hearing.

Eminent Domain Fears

What has a lot of local folks up in arms is the idea of a privately-owned, Canadian based corporation seizing their property by way of eminent domain if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decides to override any NYS and/or United States Department of Energy (DOE) rulings to the contrary, if FERC determines it’s in the nation’s best interests to provide a reliable source of electric energy.
At NYRI’s turn at bat during the lengthy hearing, NYRI counsel Leonard Singer said in response to the issue of the possibility that if their request is denied by NYS energy regulators, and they turn to the feds to get the go ahead in the name of providing a source reliable electricity, “I suspect that we would go forward.”
“We believe this project is important for the state of New York,” he added. “We want the opportunity to bring these benefits to the state.”
The DOE recently released a report listing the energy corridor between NYC and Washington, D.C. as one of the two worst “choke points” in the country’s complex power grid.
“Deregulation has taken us back to the 1920’s,” said Tonko. “The watchdog has been taken out of the equation.”
Look for the second part of this article in the Tuesday, August 29 edition.

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