A spokesman for New York Regional Interconnect Inc. said Thursday that company officials had “very productive” discussions Wednesday in Washington with staff members from the offices of New York’s U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton.
Representing the company, which has proposed building a $1.6 billion power line, were project manager William May and NYRI attorney Leonard Singer, according to David Kalson, a spokesman for the firm.
Clinton’s media staff could not be reached and did not return two telephone calls Thursday.
However, Schumer’s office sent an e-mail to The Daily Star, which reads: “NYRI’s proposed routes are inappropriate; they would cut a jagged edge through too many communities and priceless, pristine areas.
“NYRI’s Âmy way or the highway’ approach is unacceptable. With every statewide official opposed to their current plan, NYRI needs to go back to the drawing board and work with community, local, and state officials to develop alternative routes that bury lines and use existing rights-of-way like the Thruway.”
He continued, “I will continue to aggressively oppose any efforts to do an end run around the more thorough and public New York State PSC review process.”
The “end run” Schumer refers to is a provision in the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 that allows that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to override state regulators and permit the project, if it is deemed to be of national importance.
The company, which is represented in Washington by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, has sought such a ruling.
The NYRI proposal, which would run a 400-kilovolt power line from Marcy in Oneida County to New Windsor in Orange County, is being reviewed by the state’s Public Service Commission. The firm’s application to the PSC has been found to be incomplete, and no public hearings on the NYRI line have been held.
Before Wednesday’s meetings, the Associated Press did a story about NYRI’s mission in Washington, noting that May said the proposed transmission line would help promote the development of wind power in the state.
“There’s lot of wind sites that are currently being viewed for development. However, they can’t be economically developed. It’s not a suitable investment until they know there’s a path to the market. That’s where our environmental message comes in,” May said, according to the AP.
In an e-mail to The Daily Star, Kalson said May brought this message to the staffs of New York’s senators. Kalson did not respond late Thursday to a question of which wind-turbine companies had indicated they would be helped by NYRI’s 400-kilovolt line.
According to Chris Rossi, co-chairman of STOP NYRI Inc., the association of NYRI’s proposal with wind mills is, at best, misleading.
“This is not an environmentally friendly proposal, but it seems they’ll say anything to try to promote it,” Rossi said.
Rossi said she and others in grass-roots organizations are worried about NYRI’s push in Washington, although she pointed to a hopeful development this week.
Wednesday, state Supreme Court Justice James Tormey ruled that NYRI cannot block the release of information detailing its contract with the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.
NYRI and the railroad, which is headquartered in Cooperstown, have signed a contract that would allow the massive towers and wires to run from near Marcy through Sherburne in Chenango County to a point just north of Norwich.
“That’s a victory for people around here,” Rossi said, “and it may help us shine a light on what’s really going on.
“Who are the investors in this company, and how much money are they going to make? People want to know, but so far we know very little,” she said.
STOP NYRI Inc. had contacted Clinton and Schumer, both Democrats, to counter NYRI’s push in Washington.
“We know what we’re up against, and we’re going to work as hard as we have to,” Rossi said.
Marion Read, spokeswoman for Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, said May and Signer did not meet with Arcuri or his staff this week.
Arcuri has been a critic of the project, which would raise the wholesale price of electricity upstate.
“They already know where the congressman stands,” Read said Thursday.
By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
The Daily Star
2 March 2007
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