Another roadblock is being enacted to stop the federal government from overriding New York’s authority to decide whether companies can build megawatt power lines through the state, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced Monday.
Schumer plans to introduce legislation within the next two weeks to hinder the efforts of New York Regional Interconnect to seek federal approval if the state Public Service Commission denies its proposed project.
The company has proposed building a high-voltage power line from Marcy to Orange County to help provide more power to downstate communities. Schumer said terms of his legislation include:
• If the state denies a request, a power line company can only go to the federal government if it can prove the state’s decision lacked merit and justify an appeal.
• If the state delays a decision, the project must prove the delay was unreasonable before going to the federal government.
• The legislation also eliminates the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s ability to grant eminent domain.
“My legislation is designed to restore the rights of states, such as New York, to maintain their more thorough siting process, without fear that FERC will swoop in and approve poorly designed projects,” Schumer said.
Schumer supports increasing the amount of power to downstate, but said the state should have more authority over determining the best way to accomplish that. He said he believes the proposed New York Regional Interconnect project is inappropriate because it cuts through scenic areas and communities.
New York Regional Interconnect is actively pursuing the state siting process, which allows for the study of alternative routes for the power line, said William May, New York Regional Interconnect project manager.
“The (New York State Public Service Commission) will ultimately decide upon a final route that best meets the needs of all stakeholders,” May said in a statement. “NYRI is an important project because it enables renewable sources of energy, such as wind and hydropower, to serve more consumer needs with reduced environmental impact.”
The state has ordered the company to study alternative routes, he said. Those alternate routes will be submitted to the state by the end of the summer.
Mike Steiger, a member of the power-line opposition group Upstate New York Citizens Alliance, applauded Schumer’s efforts.
“Now there has to be a very legitimate reason that the state turned it down for it to go to the federal government,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., will work with Schumer on legislation to stop New York Regional Interconnect’s proposal from going forward, said Clinton spokeswoman Nina Blackwell.
U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, said he’s glad other federal officials are backing the fight against the proposed power line.
“We can prevent NYRI from running roughshod over local property owners by returning energy decisions back to the states where they belong,” he said in a statement.
By Jennifer Fusco
3 July 2007
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