New York Regional Interconnect might consider bypassing portions of certain communities along the route of its proposed 190-mile power line, company representatives said Thursday during a meeting with Gannett News Service.
“What I want to suggest is you stay tuned,” Project Manager William May said when asked specifically about Clayville and South Utica, two communities in the line’s proposed path.
May said the company is open to changes in response to community concerns in some places, although he wasn’t more specific. But some residents said moving the line in a few places won’t change their minds about the project, which would lower downstate electric rates but raise them upstate.
“They are going to destroy up here with those poles and then we’ve got to pay for New York City?” said Lila Abigese, who lives on Higby Road in South Utica. “And how about the companies that are having trouble staying here as it is?”
Utica Mayor Tim Julian called the line a “bad deal for everyone in New York state,” no matter where it goes. But, he added, “As mayor of Utica, I would say if it could bypass Utica, it would be preferential.”
The proposed line would run from Marcy to Orange County downstate. Its route along the New York Susquehanna and Western Railroad would run through numerous communities, including New York Mills, Washington Mills, Chadwicks, Sauquoit, Cassville and Waterville.
May said his team is moving forward with the application for the $1.5 billion plan, although its future is by no means certain.
Residents and government officials have mounted a stiff resistance to the plan, but May said the power line would benefit the entire state by creating opportunities to access clean energy produced upstate.
“We are all sharing the planet,” he said. “This is about more than just New York.”
He said if the line is built, it would become a conduit for wind energy and hydropower from upstate, and it would be an incentive for the construction of clean-energy plants.
“Those types of resources need very large sites and transportation infrastructure,” May said of clean coal and other potential clean-energy plants. “That only exists in upstate. It does not exist once you get into the heavily urbanized areas downstate.”
He also said such projects could offset any initial increase in local energy rates.
State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, said he doesn’t think modifying the route would change his views.
“Any route they are going to propose will be unacceptable,” he said. “Their project is ill-conceived and poorly presented, and as far as I am concerned, unacceptable for upstate.”
May also told GNS:
* If the line is approved, the company would pay property taxes on the line in full. He estimated that would be around $30 million a year to communities along the proposed route.
* He expected the power line to be operational by 2011, if it’s approved.
* New York Regional Interconnect’s application to the state Public Service Commission was sent back for revisions when it was submitted in 2006. May said he hopes to have the revised application ready by this June.
* The company wanted to work with the state rather than try to get a designation within a U.S. Department of Energy’s National Electric Transmission Corridor.
By Elizabeth Cooper
Gannett News Service
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