NYRI update

It’s been a long time since the last update, but that doesn’t mean that developments on the NYRI front haven’t been happening. The latest is a good-news, bad-news type of item that is likely to be spun heavily by both sides in the fight: the federal government’s General Accounting Office has completed a review of high-power transmission line proposals like NYRI’s, and concludes there are, surprise surprise, pros and cons to the deal. The GAO’s full report is available online, but the main points can be found here:

    The report found potential advantages of a high voltage, direct current line include:
    * Decreased congestion and lowered costs to consumers. [Yeah… for SOME! —Ed.]
    * Lower transmission costs over long distances.
    * Easier construction and maintenance when built along existing transportation routes, like a rail line or highway.
    Potential disadvantages, the GAO found, were:
    * Lower property values along the route.
    * Reduced incentives to conserve energy.
    * Some safety or security risks in having power lines so close to transportation routes.

With the news that Syracuse and other Upstate cities are getting increased federal anti-terror funding, maybe some bright individual at the GAO would also have figured out that situating major power lines next to railroads is also a bit of a terrorism risk too. If only people would understand that the bigger a terror target is (i.e., New York City), the bigger a terror plot has to be; and the bigger a terror plot is, the more that can go wrong with it… such as premature explosions in accidental places on the way. (See: Shanksville, Pennsylvania.) If I were an anti-NYRI spokesman, I would be hammering this point hard right now. (Here’s a good, brief overview of the anti-NYRI view on the report.)

Recent news about the NYRI controversy hints that both sides are losing hope for absolute victory. Still, if pressed to assign “up” and “down” arrows to the two sides, I’d be tempted to give NYRI a slight down arrow at the moment. There is a somewhat similar powerline project in the works in northeastern Pennsylvania. NYRI has become an example for other companies selling power lines about how not to do things. There’s news in this story, about NYRI’s plans to resubmit its PSC application, that the company is now thinking about burying the line in some places along its desired route. This brief report courtesy of Stopthepowerlines.com also is a sign that NYRI is getting wearier of facing a determined group of assailants. NYRI has been ridiculously trying to demand that the PSC “prove” it has the right to approve the project. They’re behaving as if they’re running out of shot as well, and are stuffing silverware into their own cannon.

And the lawsuits keep on coming, most recently from a coalition of environmental groups in New York and Pennsylvania suing the Department of Energy over the National Interest Energy Transmission Corridors (NIETCs). State money continues to reach the anti-NYRI groups, courtesy of your friendly and self-interested state Senate majority.

All of this continues to take place against a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty, as we head into an election year that may very well see even Downstate growth areas affected by Wall Street woes (which will no doubt make them feel more pinched by their current energy bills), and a new regime in Washington. It should be an interesting year in the Mohawk and Delaware valleys.

13 thoughts on “NYRI update

  1. Mrs. Mecomber

    Bah. What an antiseptic list.

    * Lower property values along the route. -???

    They mean NO properties along the route. Whole communities will be wiped out because many houses (and families) must be displaced. This should be a big enough “disadvantage” to kill the whole plan.

    * Reduced incentives to conserve energy. -??

    I’d say so, especially when this energy is coming off the backs of Upstaters.

    * Some safety or security risks in having power lines so close to transportation routes. -??

    “Some” safety risks? So close to “transportation routes”? How about so close to people– to families– who are so close to the lines. How about health risks to these people, like leukemia?

    The entire NYRI is a scandal, and I cannot see how anyone in his right mind might even consider it.

    I’ve said before, I have NOTHING against New York City getting more power. I don’t even mind them getting “some” power from Upstate. BUT BUT BUT they must look into their own area for a resolution FIRST. If there is no other recourse, any power lines should NEVER kill off Upstate communities or displace people from their homes or damage their health.

    See, this is what makes me very suspicious. Why would they ram such a monstrosity right under our noses? Why not follow the Thruway or other non-invasive route? No, they picked THE most invasive route they could think of– the railroad route that runs through hundreds of small helpless communities, displacing thousands of people AND raising their own energy rates at the same time. It’s tyranny.

  2. Ellen

    Boggles the mind that this is the first time NYRI has actually been represented by a human being in a newspaper (as opposed to a press release). Who taught these guys PR?

    Oh, and I loved this conclusion by the dude… “the founding fathers recognized the need of a few to sacrifice for the majority. ” Don’t forget that George Washington always said that it is a good and noble thing to lose one’s humble home so that people in Westchester can keep their six-bedroom, seven-bathroom McMansions fully lit.

  3. Mrs. Mecomber

    OH I caught that part by the NYRI “dude” as you call him, haha! Yeah, that’s somewhere in one of our amendments! The right to bear McMansions despite the rights of law-abiding property owners. Thus saith Washington and Hamilton. I love how suddenly the Founders are SO terribly important when it comes to “eminent domain” and the DEC but are conveniently forgotten when it comes to nation-building and trampling our rights with their “Patriot” Act.

    Two things:

    Isn’t the NYRI company owned by Canadians?

    They sure are banking on the people’s ignorance of the Constitution, aren’t they?

  4. honkcronk

    It is very nice that no homes will be taken for the power line. A nice play on words.

    NYRI plans on taking as little property as possible because that would force them to purchase it.

    They are paying for a lease on the Railroad property which should lessen the property they need to acquire.

    From what they told me at one of their first public meetings, they would try to lease any additional property from the landowners. So if a backyard or two was needed, a right away through a lease would be done rather than a purchase.

    The two routes they have already mapped would be the most financially beneficial to them.

    They have always planned to bury the powerlines near the federally protected areas on the Delaware River. They have verbally stated this since they proposed the project. They do not intend on burying any more lines than they are forced to. They intend on using towers near the river in Hancock, NY as those lands are not federally protected. At least this is what they told me at the meeting in Deposit, NY.

    So why don’t they want to use the Thruway corridor? Most of the reason is financial.

    Would New York State let them use the Thruway corridor? This is not likely to happen.

    They are proposing DC lines. We keep forgetting this in all the discussions about NYRI. DC power lines are a whole new ballgame for our state. There are no DC powerlines in NY. These would be the first.

    Going back to my meeting with NYRI, I asked about the specification of putting DC lines next to electrical lines (AC). They said they have to be sited 100 feet away from the power lines and they take up another 100 feet or so. So that is a path of 200 feet or more (I think one of the figures was 120 feet).

    Do we have an extra 200 feet of unused space along the New York Thruway corridor? Has anyone looked to see if this is available? What would it cost to come up with this amount of right of way from Utica to Albany and then down to Orange County along Rt 87.

    Can anyone convince me this is a real alternative? Or is it just a fairytale so our government officials can just put off the reality of the real NYRI proposal.

    I do not seriously believe that NYRI DC powerlines can be built any other place than what they have proposed.

    And one last thing — the safety issues are answered if they build the line from Utica to Binghamton along the RR tracks. Most of miles of this line are now officially abandoned by Norfolk Southern. The line from Waterville to Chenango Forks no longer have any running trains and are no longer in use.

    The security and safety risks would be far greater along the NYS Thruway.

    I want to believe the Thruway corridor in a good alternative. I can’t see any DC lines getting approval along a major roadway that is already siting other electrical lines.

  5. Ellen

    And PS. re my Westchester crack: I’m well aware that people live below the poverty line in that county. But they also have some of the biggest most wasteful properties around.

  6. Mrs. Mecomber

    I don’t care if the proposed NYRI plan is the “most efficient” or whatever. I don’t care if you think that some people “waste” their land. Private property should still mean something in this country. NYRI wants to plow through hundreds of properties that DO NOT BELONG TO THEM. Plowing through the proposed railroad route would destroy towns and displace thousands of people. This fact is unavoidable and inexcusable.

    And as to the baited comment “NYRI plans on taking as little property as possible because that would force them to purchase it” all I can say is they will be FORCED to buy property because people cannot live ten feet away from the power lines. Take a drive through these communities, if you dare, and you will soon see what I mean. All this land is PRIVATELY OWNED. The railroad right-of-way is too narrow for the power lines. People will be forced to leave their lands if this goes through.

  7. Mrs. Mecomber

    I will also say I strongly suspect that NYRI people read and leave comments on this blog.

    For the question: “Do we have an extra 200 feet of unused space along the New York Thruway corridor?”

    The real question should be: Do we have an extra 200 feet of unused space along the lots owned the innocent private property owners/taxpayers of New York State?”


  8. Mrs. Mecomber

    And one more thing– if you’d like a little photo op to see for yourself what these communities look like being so close to the existing railroads, take a look at these photographs. You can see how close many of these houses are to the existing railroad, and how impossible it would be to thrust power lines along this route without displacing hundreds upon hundreds of law-abiding, Bill of Rights-protected land owners. We’re not talking “backyard easements” here. We’re talking “over the chimneys and through the living room windows” here.

    Ellen, I apologize for dominating the conversation here. As you can tell, I am extremely passionate about this tyranny and have become quite outspoken against it. I apologize for my overbearing commenting. Please know that I do it because I feel it is important to quash the lame NYRI excuses and because you have provided an excellent forum for discussion.

  9. Ellen Post author

    Mrs M, I appreciate all and any discussion on the topic. And one of the reasons why I write on this subject which is of no immediate concern to my area is because I think people in other parts of the state ought to know about it.

    As for NYRI itself, I am pretty sure we don’t have any commenters from their camp, although I can say that my site seems to get occasional hits from people who have done searches on NYRI and some of these people appear to be based around Albany and Washington.

  10. honkcronk

    In reply to:
    And as to the baited comment “NYRI plans on taking as little property as possible because that would force them to purchase it” all I can say is they will be FORCED to buy property because people cannot live ten feet away from the power lines…..
    The railroad right-of-way is too narrow for the power lines. People will be forced to leave their lands if this goes through.

    I am repeating what the folks at NYRI told me at the community meetings they had at the start of the process.

    I made the same comment you did about the narrowness of the RR tracks. They said that was not a problem to them. They need a certain distance from houses (or a school ) but they can add feet vertically!!!

    That is the plan — they can raise the lines higher on the towers to get the footage then need from the homes along the route.

    That was their answer. They won’t need to buy very much additional land as long as they go vertical.

    Sorry you misunderstood my comments.

    My backyard is on the RR track, BTW.

    I live on the “alternate route”, however so maybe that does not count as being worrisome to some of the folks north of Norwich. But I am really not fighting NYRI because of the proximity of my backyard to the powerlines, although that was the big influence for my interest two years ago.

  11. Mrs. Mecomber

    Actually, my backyard is unaffected. I will not lose any property at all. I live in a town that is threatened by NYRI, but it is not a “personal” problem for me at all.

    I am sticking my neck out because it is an outrage, not to mention absolute tyranny. I cannot tolerate even the slightest degree of sympathy for this company or their decision…

    Ellen, thanks for the info, and for your constant blogging about this tragedy. I think that, even though we may not be “directly” affected as much as those whose properties and liberties are threatened, we will definitely feel the effects– not merely monetary, but against our liberties, too.

    This is no time for anyone to sympathize with NYRI, not one bit. Everything they have stated so far has been smoke and mirrors, and bald-faced lies. Grr!

  12. redwood

    I think the point is still being missed. The outrage by all DOES NOT COUNT, DOES NOT MATTER. It’s 8+ BILLION dollars and growing in somebody’s pocket. GET IT? Done deal. Fini. Caputo!

    Wait until all those abandoned RR in the Adirondacks become targets. The Mohawk Valley will look like Bronx clothesline. Malone will be the docking station for Canadian power. It’s only dollars away.

    Hang on to your seats folks. You ain’t seen nothin yet!

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