December 16, 2008, The Oneonta Daily Star: PSC prefers parallel NYRI route

By Tom Grace

Cooperstown News Bureau

December 16, 2008 04:00 am

link to full article is here:

If the $2 billion, 400,000 volt NYRI power line must be built, paralleling the Marcy South line would be preferable to following the company's preferred route, according to staff at the state Public Service Commission.

Marcy South is a controversial 345,000 volt power line, operating since the late 1980s. It runs through the towns of Richfield, Exeter, Burlington, New Lisbon, Laurens, Oneonta, Franklin, Delhi, Colchester and Downsville on its way from Oneida to Orange counties.

NYRI Inc. has a preferred route that runs through Chenango and Delaware counties, and an alternative that roughly follows Marcy South. In a letter dated Nov. 26, PSC attorney Steven Blow wrote that the staff has refined a route based on NYRI's Marcy South alternative and believes it is superior to both options the company has offered.

The PSC staff's alternative would deviate less from Marcy South than the company's alternative, and might allow more owners to sell residences than if the project were built along the company's alternative route.

``Briefly stated, we believe an alternative route that includes these segments is more reasonable than both NYRI's proposed route and its Marcy South Alternate,'' he wrote. ``The deviations away from and then back to the Marcy South right-of-way proposed by NYRI result in `islanding' these residences just to avoid taking them, possibly by eminent domain.

``It is the DPS (Department of Public Service) staff position that the affected property owners should be given the option of selling their property to NYRI. Only if they decline should NYRI's proposed deviations be used.''

On Monday, Anne Dalton, PSC spokeswoman, noted that routes come into play only if the commission decides the project is needed, which it has not.

NYRI's proponents say the 190-mile line from Oneida to Orange counties will reduce transmission bottlenecks and improve the flow of electricity to the New York City area. Opponents say the project is destructive and if downstate needs more power, generating facilities should be built close to where the power is needed.

In an e-mail Monday, NYRI spokesman David Kalson said the company would accept running its line along its Marcy South alternative or its original route.

``As you know, the PSC ultimately is responsible for choosing the route,'' he wrote.

Earlier this month, the Otsego County Board of Representatives went on record as opposed to the project. Previously, county board Chair James Powers, R-Butternuts, has said the county and its municipalities will vigorously resist NYRI.

Monday, Rep. Betty Anne Schwerd, R-Burlington, whose house lies in the shadow of Marcy South, said ``I knew they were going to try this. This whole route game is just a bait and switch routine.''

Nearly two years ago, Schwerd predicted that when NYRI was ready to be built, regulators would looking at Marcy South.

Ann Law of Route 357 in Franklin lives next to Marcy South and the last thing she wants to look at is another power line.

``I regret it every time I see it out the window,'' she said.

When Marcy South was built by Power Authority of the State of New York, the preferred route would have come near Otsego Lake and the Davenport home of U.S. Senator Daniel P. Moynihan. Groups formed to fight the preferred route and the line ended up being built along its present course, a path of lesser resistance.

Law said it seemed that a historical pattern is poised to repeat.

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