NYRI power line withdrawal hailed by river council

LACKAWAXEN, NEW YORK - The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) has hailed the recent decision by New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. (NYRI) to withdraw its application to construct a high-voltage, direct-current transmission line on a 190-mile path through eight New York State counties between Marcy and Rock Tavern, N.Y.

The decision ended a controversy that once threatened Pike’s northerly river boundary and has been argued since Canadian developers aired the proposal in 2003. Then called Pegasus, after the mythical winged horse, it originally planned a construction corridor through the federally protected Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. The route then would have run along railway right-of-way in Lackawaxen, Shohola and Westfall townships.

The proposal drew immediate opposition locally, which grew as the proposal made its way through planning and approval processes.

In press interviews at the time, project sponsors scoffed at the idea of local opposition derailing the project.

NYRI counsel verbally withdrew application during hearings before the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) in Albany.

The UDC participated actively with the Communities Against Regional Interconnect (CARI) coalition of county governments and non-profit organizations since its inception, utilized the resources of a $50,000 state grant secured by Senator John J. Bonacic in 2006 to study and review the impacts of NYRI on the river valley, and vigilantly monitored all NYRI proceedings on a daily basis.

“This has been a long and exhausting fight since NYRI filed its original (formal) application on May 31, 2006, but the UDC has been steadfast in its position that this proposed power line did not belong in the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River corridor,” said UDC Executive Director William E. Douglass.

The surprising withdrawal action followed a March 31 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling that denied NYRI’s request for a re-hearing on the question of cost allocation voting procedures by the New York Independent System Operator.

NYRI Attorney Len Singer advised PSC Administrative Law Judges Jeffrey Stockholm and Michelle Phillips that the private company’s investors felt that the order jeopardized NYRI’s ability to recover the costs of transmissions upgrades, thereby creating too great of a financial risk.

The NYRI application proposed to site mostly 10-story-tall overhead transmission towers between converter stations in Oneida and Orange Counties on a nominated route that largely paralleled the Millennium Gas Pipeline in this region from Deposit to Cuddebackville. That represented the second generation of a proposal made in October 2003 by NYRI predecessor, the Canadian firm Pegasus Power Systems, Inc., to transport upstate electricity to metropolitan markets downstate. Pegasus proposed to use the railroad rights-of-way alongside the Upper Delaware River for its route.

The River Management Plan for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (1986) states that new, major electric lines are an “incompatible use” and present a “clear and direct threat” to the river corridor.

In addition to believing that NYRI would have violated the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the council was concerned about the company’s potential use of eminent domain to acquire private property for this line, its impacts on the local environment, loss of property values, and detrimental effects on tourism.


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