NYRI is blasted at state hearing
By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
November 07, 2008 04:00 am
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NORWICH _ Residents of Chenango and its surrounding counties took aim at NYRI on Thursday afternoon during a hearing held at the Council of the Arts auditorium in Norwich.
The hearing was held by the state's Public Service Commission.
NYRI, short for New York Regional Interconnection, has proposed a 400,000-volt, 10-story tall direct-current power line that would run from Marcy in Oneida County to New Windsor in Orange County. Various proposed routes could take the line through sections of Delaware, Chenango and Otsego counties.
Proponents say it would help relieve the high price of electricity in the New York City area, improve the state's electrical grid and foster ``green'' projects such as windmill farms.
Opponents, like Dr. Glenn Stein of Norwich, see the project purely as a scheme to enrich investors. Stein, who testified Thursday, told two administrative law judges, ``The only thing green about NYRI is the money they're going to make.''
To laughter and cheers from a crowd of about 130, Stein read from NYRI's application in which ``they had the unmitigated gall to write that `overhead transmission lines may have a positive effect on property values.'''
Included in that application are photographs that show the firm has gone to great lengths to minimize the project's effect on the landscape, he said.
``This project is bad economic policy and bad energy policy,'' he added, comparing it to running a long extension cord down the state when what may be needed is a generating facility near the city.
With NYRI President Chris Thompson, spokesman David Kalson, attorney Leonard Singer and others from the firm listening, Lisa Oristian of Hubbardsville said that people are tired of defending themselves from ``obscenities like NYRI.''
The 190-mile-long, $2 billion project, which has been deemed unnecessary by the New York Independent System Operator, is essentially ``a home invasion,'' Oristian said, warning that ``when people are pushed, they shove back.''
Several speakers at the session also noted the opposition of the ISO, which operates the state's electrical grid, as well as that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has guaranteed ratepayers, not investors, will have to pay for the project.
State Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, whose 107th District would be bisected by the line, characterized NYRI as ``merely a group of investors seeking to make a profit at the expense of upstate residents.''
Personal stories heard
Some residents spoke of the personal hardships the project would cause.
Jackie Angelino, who lives on county Route 33 in Norwich, said the power line would run through her yard near the $200,000 house she just built.
``If this goes through, I'll lose all my equity,'' she told the presiding administrative law judges, Michelle Phillips and Jeffrey Stockholm.
Kenneth St. John of Norwich said NYRI's line ``would go through the middle of our property, and I don't believe there's a need for it. The only people who will benefit from this are the people behind it and maybe some politicians.''
Restaurant owner Candy Ramer of Sherburne said she and her neighbors haven't felt the need to lock their doors, but ``lo and behold, now we have a burglar in the valley who wants to take everything we hold near and dear.''
Cancer risks associated with power lines were the subject of comments from William Au of Sherburne, and also in written comments jointly submitted by Au; a clinical pharmacologist, Dr. Lawrence Rosenblum; a Norwich radiologist, Dr. Tom Holmes; and Les Roberts, an epidemiologist.
``There is a strong and well-documented association between high-voltage AC power lines and childhood leukemia, and an association between workplace DC electrical exposure and leukemia and brain-cancer risks in adults,'' they wrote.
Stockholm responded to Au's comments by saying the PSC would consider any cancer risks the project poses.
Perry Owens of Norwich said he and his wife had conducted a study and determined 1,097 properties in Chenango County would be directly affected by the project.
``There will be mass evictions through eminent domain; it will be a disaster,'' he said.
The hearing continued through much of the afternoon and was scheduled to be followed by an evening session, the last of the PSC's public comment hearings on this project.
Chris Brunner of Norwich, who testified against the line, said outside the hearing that the PSC is slated to consider new possible routes for the project in the next few weeks.
Anne Dalton, PSC spokeswoman, said people who want to comment by mail may send letters to Jaclyn Brilling, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350. Comments should note that NYRI is case number 06-T-0650. Comments may also be registered by calling (800) 335-2120 or online at www.dps.state.ny.us.
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