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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March 27, 2009, Kingston Daily Freeman: As bats die, feds ask people to avoid caves

As bats die, feds ask people to avoid caves

Friday, March 27, 2009 3:06 AM EDT

ALBANY (AP) — Citing an “unprecedented” crisis of bats dying off from West Virginia to New England, federal officials on Thursday asked for people to stay out of thousands of caves in states struck by “white-nose syndrome.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the request to guard against the possibility that people are unwittingly spreading the mysterious affliction when they explore multiple caves. There is no evidence that white-nose syndrome, which has struck particularly hard in Ulster County, including in caves in Rosendale, is a threat to people.

Named for the sugary smudges of fungus on the noses and wings of hibernating bats, white-nose bats appear to run through their winter fat stores before spring. It was confirmed in eight states this winter from New Hampshire to West Virginia and there is evidence it may have spread to Virginia, according to wildlife service spokeswoman Diana Weaver.

Some death-count estimates run as high as 500,000 bats. Researchers worry about a mass die-off of bats, which help control the populations of insects that can damage wheat, apples and dozens of other crops.

The advisory seeking a voluntary caving moratorium also would cover states adjacent to affected states — a swath of the nation stretching from Maine down to North Carolina and west to Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, Weaver said.

Recreational cavers, who have enthusiastically supported past white-nose control efforts, seemed bewildered by the breadth of the request. Peter Youngbaer, white-nose syndrome liaison for the National Speleological Society, said the advisory covers tens of thousands of caves and would affect everything from organized caving events to equipment sales.

“The ramifications are mind boggling, and I guess we’re all just trying figure out what to do,” said Youngbaer, who is based in Vermont.

“I think to great extent it will be followed, but there will be a lot of discussion and tweaking about it,” he said.

Researchers suspect a fungus that thrives in cold, moist caves causes white nose and that it is spread from bat to bat. But the syndrome has spread more than 400 miles from the cluster of caves near Albany where it was first observed two winters ago.

Researchers are concerned that humans could be helping the spread, perhaps through jackets or boots worn in an infected cave. Weaver noted that some of the affected caves are popular with cavers.

Federal officials also ask that cavers nationwide refrain from using gear that has been used in states struck by white nose or the adjacent states. Officials ask that everyone avoid caves and mines during the winter hibernation season so bats will not be disturbed.

On the Net:—nose.html.

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March 18, 3009: Eco Politics Daily, NYLCV: Tensions Run High At NYRI Hearings

Tensions Run High At NYRI Hearings

Submitted by Dan Hendrick on Wed, 2009-03-18 17:49.

The big guns were out in full force earlier this week for the Public Service Commission’s evidentiary hearings about the proposed New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI), a high-voltage transmission line that would run 190 miles between Marcy and Orange County.

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