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.