PSC Chair Says Commission Will Be Involved In Community Meetings On Energy Plans

Nov 22, 2013

The chair of the New York State Public Service Commission is responding to calls for the PSC to become more publicly involved in the early stages of plans for transmission line projects. This comes after two state legislators in the Hudson Valley penned letters of concern to the PSC.

It all relates to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway Blueprint to look at plans and alternatives to ease transmission congestion to meet downstate power needs. The Public Service Commission is in the initial scoping phase of reviewing plans by developers to upgrade transmission lines to ease the bottleneck on the transmission system between Utica and New York City, to add some 1,000 megawatts of transmission capacity. Energy companies are filing introductory, scoping statements and initiating public outreach in communities where projects could be sited. State Senator Terry Gipson represents a portion of Dutchess County that would be affected, including the towns of Clinton, Hyde Park, Milan and Pleasant Valley. And while he has concerns about the proposals themselves, the Democrat is also concerned about educating the public, now that developers have begun holding community meetings.

He has written to the PSC, asking for a closer look into various aspects of the proposals. In addition:

Audrey Zibelman is chair of the PSC.

A spokesman for the governor says his office has not yet reviewed Gipson’s letter.

Democratic Assemblymember Didi Barrett also wrote to the PSC, with concerns about proposed transmission line projects from New York Transco and other energy companies.

She says each proposal would impact significant portions of her 106th assembly district, covering parts of Columbia and Dutchess Counties.

Both she and Gipson are concerned about high-voltage lines running overhead and want the PSC and developers to consider burying lines underground. Here’s Transco Spokesman John Maserjian.

The PSC’s Zibelman says the commission will consider the possibility of burying lines underground.

New York Transco is a partnership of New York’s transmission owners and includes Central Hudson, Con Edison, Orange & Rockland, the Long Island Power Authority, the New York Power Authority, NYSEG, and National Grid. Maserjian responds to legislators’ concerns about high-voltage lines running overhead.

The proposals filed to date are the first part of the process to build transmission facilities. Part B will be filed in the future, and will include a much higher level of detail for consideration by the PSC. The public comment period for this early phase ends December 20, though Zibelman notes that until the Commission makes any decisions, comments will be accepted. Environmental group Scenic Hudson has requested an extension of the comment period to February 18. Zibelman says a PSC administrative law judge will consider that request.