New York Regional Interconnect now proposes running its power line underground through key Oneida County population centers including South Utica, New Hartford and much of the Sauquoit Creek Valley.
The power line would still run above ground in rural areas and through villages well south of Utica including Waterville and Sherburne, according to a New York Regional Interconnect legal notice publishing early this week in the Observer-Dispatch.
The revised details come as the power-line company prepares a new filing with the state Public Service Commission, which reviews such proposals.
“Lines underground are always better, but there are still a number of things that need to be reviewed in their application,” Mohawk Valley EDGE President Steven DiMeo said Saturday.
He’s concerned the proposed route still runs above-ground through the Marcy Nanotech site where EDGE hopes to lure a high-technology company that could employ hundreds of people.
“The proposed route is still unacceptable,” DiMeo said.
The possibility of high-voltage power lines running on transmission towers hundreds of feet tall through city and town neighborhoods has galvanized Mohawk Valley leaders and residents like few other issues.
Scores of residents posted anti-power-line signs in their yards after the plan was announced in spring 2006.
Later that year, the state told New York Regional Interconnect to start its planning over again because of flaws in its proposal.
In its new proposal, New York Regional Interconnect talks of burying the power line on the proposed route and also outlines two alternate routes:
* Along the New York State Thruway.
* Along the existing Marcy South power-line route, which starts in Marcy and cuts through portions of Herkimer County on its way south.
The 1,200-megawatt power line would run from Marcy to downstate Orange County in order to supply the growing New York City area with more electricity. It would also have the impact, however, of raising energy costs in Upstate New York, local leaders say.
The key change in the newly proposed route involves burying the power line where it would run closest to homes and businesses in and around Utica and Norwich.
New York Regional Interconnect says the power line would go underground at Greenman Avenue and stay buried through New York Mills, New Hartford, South Utica, more of New Hartford and some Sauquoit Creek Valley communities including Chadwicks and Sauquoit.
The line would go above-ground on the outskirts of Clayville, and run on transmission towers through Waterville and Sherburne before going underground again near Norwich.
“I feel like they are making a token effort to quiet down resistance to something that is still a flawed project,” Chris Rossi of the Madison County community of Hubbardsville said. Rossi, co-chair of the STOP NYRI citizens’ group, said the ultimate effect would still be to harm area communities and damage property values.
New Hartford Town Supervisor Earle Reed questioned whether the power-line company would really pay the added expense of burying the power line.
“I don’t think they would ever do that,” he said. “I think it would cost them too much money. I’d love to know the cost analysis of underground versus overhead – you see most of them are overhead.”
Reed said the best answer is to place the new power line on existing power lines, and to encourage construction of generating plants in the southern part of New York state.
State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, noted the possibility that burying the power line in some communities, but not others, could be a divide-and-conquer strategy on the part of New York Regional Interconnect.
“I still maintain that this project is a bad project,” Griffo said. “We should stand united and fight this proposal regardless of what they recommend – it is an ill conceived concept from start to finish.”
The New York Regional Interconnect has now proposed portions of the planned power line be built underground.
The underground portion begins in Whitestown near Greenman Avenue and continues through New York Mills, the town of New Hartford, city of Utica and town of Paris.
The line transitions overhead at the outer edge of the village of Clayville and then through Waterville, Sangerfield and into Madison County.
A newly proposed Marcy South alternative route runs overhead paralleling a current power transmission line, expect for the first 7.7 miles when it is underground.
It passes through Deerfield, Schuyler, Frankfort and Litchfield before continuing downstate.
By Mike Kilian and Jessica Ryen Doyle
9 February 2008
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