The plan to build a 1,000-megawatt transmission line has taken a significant step forward as two hearing officers with the state Public Service Commission issued opinions recommending their agency’s approval.
New York State Public Service Commission Administrative Law Judges Michelle Phillips and Kevin Casutto on Thursday issued a 150-page decision on the Champlain Hudson Power Express application after reviewing information submitted by the developer, Transmission Developers Inc., as well as comments from different agencies, organizations, local municipalities and residents.
The judges wrote in the statement that the facility’s overall economic and environmental benefits have been demonstrated in the information provided.
Donald Jessome, president and CEO of Transmission Developers Inc., said he was pleased with the judges’ opinions, saying that the proposed facility is an “extremely positive project for New York.”
“Overall we are very pleased with the recommended decision as it provides a strong foundation to move the project forward,” Jessome said. “The administrative law judges have done an exhaustive review of this project and we are looking forward to the next steps in the review process.”
Pamela Carter, spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission, wrote in her email response to a reporter that no date has been set for the project to go before the Public Service Commission for its decision.
Meanwhile, another round of comments from interested parties is being sought, she wrote.
“The Public Service Commission can accept, reject or modify whatever is put before them,” Carter wrote.
The proposed 333-mile transmission line would be installed to bring Canadian clean energy – hydro and wind – to power homes and businesses in the New York metropolitan area.
Cables would be buried underwater in the Hudson River starting in the Village of Catskill in Greene County and heading south.
They would emerge in Stony Point to run underground along the CSX railroad right of way to West Haverstraw, proceeding along Route 9W in Clarkstown to the Rockland Lake and Hook Mountain state parks before re-entering the Hudson River.
Residents in Stony Point have expressed their strong oppositions against the project, saying that the it would devalue their homes, jeopardize the town’s economic development plans, and disturb the historic Waldron Revolutionary War Cemetery.
Susan Filgueras, who has been leading the campaign, Just Say NO! to the Champlain Hudson Power Express, said she was disappointed with the judges’ opinions.
Filgueras said the project would further shrink the tax base in Stony Point because she believed that some houses would have to be taken via eminent domain, and some areas along the river would become unsuitable for economic development.
“We will lose $1 million in Stony Point taxes alone,” while the project’s combined property-tax payment to the county, the towns of Haverstraw, Stony Point and Clarkstown as well as the school districts would be about $790,000, Filgueras said.
The judges, however, supported the project’s route, noting that it would “avoid or minimize the disturbance of natural habitat, and would use some existing and previously disturbed right of way.”
Assemblyman-elect James Skoufis, who will be representing Stony Point starting January, said he recently walked through Stony Point’s waterfront communities, which have been badly affected by Superstorm Sandy and would be affected by the transmission line project.
After observing the narrow right of way along the railroad, he was convinced that he has to request the Public Service Commission come to Stony Point, he said.
“Until you walk there … you just don’t understand and grasp what’s involved here,” Skoufis said.
Skoufis also said he has been preparing to introduce a legislation that would prohibit the use of eminent domain by an electric company to build a transmission line that originates in another country.
A similar bill is already before the state Senate, but not the Assembly.
Jessome said the project has been under review by federal agencies. The goal for the project would be to start building in 2014, he said.
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