January 23, 2009, Utica Observer Dispatch: State power authority opposes Marcy South NYRI line plan

State power authority opposes Marcy South NYRI line plan

Posted Jan 23, 2009 @ 08:42 PM

New York Power Authority President Richard Kessel doesn’t like the idea of having the New York Regional Interconnect power line run along his Marcy South line.

“The issue from my perspective is that building NYRI adjacent to or close to or within our right of ways would create problems in terms of maintaining and running and upgrading our line, which is a critical backbone in the state’s transmission infrastructure,” Kessel told the Observer-Dispatch.

NYRI wants to run a power line from Marcy to Orange County downstate. Its preferred route runs along the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway line through numerous local communities, including New York Mills, South Utica, Sauquoit, Clayville, Cassville and Waterville.

The staff of the New York state Public Service Commission, which is evaluating NYRI’s application, has recommended the line instead follow the route of the Power Authority’s existing Marcy South line, which also runs from Marcy to downstate.

The commission does not have to follow the staff’s recommendation.

NYRI spokesman David Kalson said the company would abide by the commission’s decision on the route.

“NYRI is interested in building a line from point A to point B, and the actual route is the domain of the Public Service Commission,” he said. “They are the choosers of the final route.”

Gerald Norlander of the Albany-based Public Utility Law Project energy policy think tank said the Public Service Commission certainly would listen to the power authority’s views.

“I think it would be given considerable weight,” he said.

Kessel called the NYRI proposed route “extremely difficult and problematic,” though he declined to take a position on that route himself.

“I think there is a tremendous amount of discomfort with it along the route,” he said. “I just don’t see that happening.”

Steve DiMeo, the local representative on the multi-county NYRI opposition group Communities Against Regional Interconnect, pointed to part of the power authority’s testimony in the commission’s NYRI evaluation that seemed to indicate that Marcy South could be converted to direct current, or DC, transmission, which may be more efficient.

“(New York Power Authority) has said they can convert their Marcy South line to DC, and in their testimony they pointed out a number of reasons why that would be better than NYRI,” he said. “We believe NYPA has proposed an alternative to NYRI.”

The proposed NYRI line would be a DC line.

The power authority’s Thomas McDermott said converting Marcy South would not require any additional right of way.

Kessel declined to comment on the testimony.

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