ALBANY — If the powers behind the huge power line proposed for our region think new routes or promises of economic benefits will silence their critics, they should think again.
New York Regional Interconnect, which aims to build a 190-mile line from Utica to New Windsor, yesterday unveiled a revised proposal that was required by the state Public Service Commission. As first reported in the Record, it offers several alternate routes, including one along the existing Marcy-South line; another one beneath — not above — the western Orange County village of Otisville; and one more that moves away from the Delaware River and is “barely visible” from the water, although it does cross the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway above Long Eddy. The alternates don’t include the Thruway since, NYRI says, state and federal law prohibit power lines along the highway if another route is “feasible.”
The proposal also claims the power line will bring cheaper, cleaner power from upstate to the energy-starved New York City metropolitan area. That means lower rates, says NYRI President Chris Thompson, citing studies by NYRI consultant Charles River Associates.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is opposition to the power line that would cut through Sullivan and Orange counties.
“It sounds like smoke and mirrors,” says Otisville’s Gail Heatherly, a board member of SayNo2NYRI and a representative to the statewide anti-NYRI group, Communities Against Regional Interconnect. “It’s not that it’s good for New York; it’s good for NYRI or they wouldn’t be doing it.”
Heatherly, who lives across from NYRI’s downtown route, points out that power for local residents still can’t be tapped directly from the lines. And although underground is “better” than 10-story towers, there would still be blasting and digging for months, she said.
Another NYRI opposition leader, Troy Bystrom of the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition, is also skeptical of the project that will now bury the lines near Utica.
“I doubt that much has changed,” he says of the line that now costs $2 billion. “They still haven’t proved that the state really needs the power.”
Still, Bystrom, like other NYRI opponents, wants to study the complete PSC submission — four binders, each 4 inches thick, Thompson says.
It is posted on the PSC Web site. It should be available at the new NYRI Web site, http://www.nyri.us, and at the towns intersected by the line within the week.
But NYRI opposition is still so strong, some see the new NYRI site — and the entire PSC submission — as a PR move.
“They’re just trying to get a whole new image out there,” says Nina Neighmond of the Town of Wallkill, which would still be sliced by NYRI.