Utility companies can re-submit plans

The Enterprise--Lisa Nicole Viers

Power lines stretch across fields in rural Albany County. Two horses are grazing near the lower right side of the photo.

ALBANY COUNTY — Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement in January of incentives for utility projects that stay within the existing utility corridor was welcome news to many, especially Albany County residents.

Only a couple of months before, four different companies proposed plans to bring power from the North down to New York City using new sets of power lines that could hurt the aesthetics of the area, and the health of its residents.

Transco (National Grid), NextEra, Boundless Energy LLC, and North America Transmission all submitted proposals to the Public Service Commission in October 2013.

But, because the selection process for these proposals was already underway, the governor’s incentive of expedited approval for projects staying within the utility corridor did not apply.

Even before this realization, activism against the projects was roiling, with community groups popping up throughout the Hudson Valley, where the initial proposal routes implied the possibility of eminent domain, where the government can take private land for a price. Also, companies can buy the rights to build on private land without owning it.

New Scotland has also been at the center of the “energy Superhighway” project, as it is home to a power substation and some of the widest portions of the existing utility corridor.

Recently, the PSC gave the companies a chance to resubmit their proposals — with the incentive put forth by the governor in January.

The companies are not required to submit new proposals that stay within the height and width of the existing utility corridor, or right-of-way, but New Scotland Town Board member Daniel Mackay expects that they will.

The PSC saw the political activism surrounding the energy Superhighway, Mackay said, and “read it appropriately,” responding with this new opportunity for the utility companies.

“Until we see the new projects come in,” he said, “we don’t really know what we’re dealing with.”

There is no hard deadline for submissions yet, said Mackay, who is also the director of public policy for the Preservation League of New York State, but he expects more detailed proposals to be seen in late summer to early fall.

 “The [selection and approval] process has been delayed significantly because of this,” he said, “and I think it’s been delayed appropriately.”


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