March 27, 2009, utica Observer-Dispatch: NYRI power line hearings thick in detail

NYRI power line hearings thick in detail

Now, about that 'mass-impregnated non-draining cable'

Posted Mar 26, 2009 @ 08:38 PM
Last update Mar 26, 2009 @ 10:36 PM


 Nine hours of hearings Thursday about the proposed New York Regional Interconnect power line application were pronounced “difficult” by a lawyer representing the main power line opposition group.

“Difficult for all parties,” said John Klucsik, an attorney for Communities Against Regional Interconnect.

The power-line company wants to move electricity from Marcy in Oneida County to the downstate New York area. Residents along the route have protested the plan for nearly three years.

On Thursday, a five-member panel of experts from NYRI was cross-examined on issues relating to possible power line routes.

NYRI President Chris Thompson was on the panel, but he spoke only a couple of times, and briefly each time.

Sometimes the discussions became highly technical. For example, several minutes were spent on the merits of “mass-impregnated non-draining cable.”

Under the proposed route, the line would go along the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway tracks through local communities including New York Mills, South Utica and Chadwicks.

CARI opposes the construction of the line, but is also trying to show that if the state Public Service Commission deems the line must be built, there are other viable routes.

Burying it along the route of the existing Marcy South power line, or along the Thruway, are among the opponents’ suggestions.

In numerous instances Thursday, the NYRI witnesses said certain decisions hadn’t been made yet or research wasn’t complete:

-- They said they didn’t know how many rivers and streams the line would cross on either the proposed route or the Marcy South alternative route.

-- They were unable to point to existing testimony that proved they had discussions with the operators of a downstate passenger railroad about burying the line beneath the tracks in certain places, despite having said they might want to do that.

-- They had not done detailed research on what other underground utilities they might encounter in areas where they proposed to bury the line, such as
South Utica.

Asked after the hearings about the occasional delayed response times of his winesses, Thompson said that was normal.

“There are I forget how many thousands of pages of documents you have,” he said. “It’s difficult to find the specific details people are asking for.”

There were plenty of times when the NYRI panel did have its facts in order.

Klucsik tried to pin NYRI witness Richard Bucci down on whether the line would be affected by maintenance problems more if it were underground or above ground.

While Bucci conceded that both underground and above-ground lines were reliable, he added that a given mile of above-ground line would need repairs once every 205 years.

“In either case, we won’t be around to verify,” he joked.

The hearings have been going on since March 16 and will continue into April. The commission wants to make its decision by early August.

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