Opposition growing to power line project

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:41

    ALBANY, N.Y. - Kayaking on the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania/New York border last week, graphic artist Pat Carullo spotted five soaring bald eagles. Carullo fears such a sight will become a thing of the past if a power transmission company gets approval to build a 200-mile-long, high-voltage transmission line from Utica to the lower Hudson Valley. It would be capable of delivering power to more than 1 million homes, while cutting through farmland and what Carullo calls ``a scenic, pristine environment.’’ ``This is a private company and they are proposing a project that is not needed,’’ said Carullo, a member of the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition who lives in Lackawaxen. ``For us, this is a struggle which is paramount.’’ ``There is a real need for power in that area,’’ said spokesman Jonathan Pierce. ``Like any other company, inventor or entrepreneur, there is an identified problem and we intend to provide a solution to it.’’ The New York Independent System Operator, which controls the state’s power grid, estimates that in 2008 the lower Hudson Valley and metropolitan New York will need an extra 500 megawatts of capacity, either from new transmission, added generation, conservation or a combination of the three. The Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island will need 1,250 megawatts of electric capacity by the end of 2010 and 2,250 megawatts by 2015, according to the New York Independent System Operator. One megawatt is enough power for about 1,000 homes. Pierce said while the new line will not directly provide power to New York City or Long Island, it will relieve bottlenecks that keep more power from other sources heading there. The plan has stirred opposition from residents, who fear they will be forced out through eminent domain proceedings or will see 115-foot-tall utility poles running through their communities. New York Regional Interconnect maintains that without upgrading the state’s transmission grid, new power plants would have to be built in or near densely populated areas, raising more environmental and land-use concerns. The company says its $1 billion project will save consumers more than $500 million a year, primarily from improvements in efficiency. The company also says the line would help to reduce demand for electricity from fossil fuel-fired power plants by transmitting electricity from new wind and hydro sources. Pierce said developers want to begin construction in 2008 and start transmitting electricity by 2011, pending state and federal regulatory approval. New York Regional Interconnect plans to seek approval to build the line from the state Public Service Commission later this month. For more information visit: New York Regional Interconnect: www.nyri.us; New York Independent System Operator: www.nyiso.com; and Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition: http://www.udpc.net.