State Senators James L. Seward (R-C-I, Oneonta) and Raymond Meier (R-C, Oneida County) today asked the state Public Service Commission to intervene in the proposed siting of the NYRI power line and to take an active role in its review.
Seward and Meier, whose senatorial districts are affected by the proposal, signed a joint letter to the chairman of the Public Service Commission urging "the commission to take an active role in the siting process."
"I want the public to be heard on the issue, number one, and get answers to some key questions," Seward said. "I oppose NYRI efforts to bypass the state siting process with a federal designation that will minimize public involvement, and we need to know what the effect of the line would be on our electric rates and our quality of life."
"The NYRI proposal raises serious issues regarding local environmental and economic impacts," said State Senator Raymond Meier. "The recent NYRI request for a special federal designation to speed approval of the project does not speak well to addressing local concerns. I will insist that the Public Service Commission aggressively assume its jurisdiction to review this request and protect the public's interests."
Seward noted that the default process available to the company through a federal designation involves little public participation. In addition, Seward said that no one knows the impact of the proposed line on upstate utility rates.
"Complete state review, study and involvement are essential, and that's what we will work for," Seward said. "The people of the area deserve to have answers, and we will ensure that that they are provided."
May 10, 2006
Mr. William Flynn, Chairman
1New York Public Service Commission
Agency Building 3
Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12223
Re: Proposed New York Regional Interconnection Transmission Project
Dear Chairman Flynn:
We are writing with regard to the proposed New York Regional Interconnection Transmission project, which would begin in the Town of Marcy, Oneida County and extend southerly to the Town of New Windsor, Orange County. As you are likely aware, the proposed transmission line would pass through areas we represent.
We urge the commission to take an active role in the siting process.
Our first concern is the issue of federal pre-emption of state review. New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. (NYRI) has filed an application with the federal Department of Energy for a designation of the proposed route as a "national interest electric transmission corridor." We should all be alarmed by the possibility that the proposal could be approved by the federal government if the state takes no action on it for a period of one year from the date of the application. A PSC spokesman has in fact stated that a review by the PSC will likely take more than one year to complete.
The people of the state and particularly those in the proposed path of the line whom we represent would benefit greatly from the PSC’s intervention. The default process available to the company at the federal level will entail little or no public involvement. In our view, the people of our districts and neighboring areas deserve to be heard. In addition, they are entitled to the due process afforded by an Article VII review here at the state level. The PSC would be remiss to stand by and watch the project simply be sited by default.
The second issue relates to the effect of the line, if constructed, on upstate rates. If the company proposes to divert "excess" electricity from upstate to downstate areas, our guess is that upstate electric rates will rise. We must know the answer to this question.
Last, the impact of the line on upstate must be reviewed. With electric rates high in upstate, manufacturers are not siting a business a day in our area. We increasingly rely on a small business economy and tourism-related amenities that key on the natural scenic beauty of the area. A second transmission line (Marcy-South in the mid-1980s was first) would have a negative effect on our area.
Upstate’s electric resources should not be seen as a giant car battery fueling the growth of downstate, with a set of jumper cables stretching across our rural landscape.
Again, we strongly urge your intervention in reviewing this proposed transmission project and providing the answers people need.
JAMES L. SEWARD RAYMOND MEIER
Senator, 51st District Senator, 47th District