Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) need to hear from you right away. Tell them there is no need for a project that would cost ratepayers $1.2 billion and damage the Hudson Valley’s beauty, environment, farms and more.
The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition (HVSEC) includes municipalities; environmental, cultural, historic and land preservation organizations; businesses; and residents who support creation of a modern, comprehensive energy plan for the Hudson Valley and New York State. HVSEC members are especially concerned about the potential negative impacts on the environmental, visual, historic, cultural and economic resources of the Hudson Valley from proposed projects, driven by Gov. Cuomo’s 2012 Energy Highway initiative, to erect higher overhead transmission lines bisecting 25 communities in seven counties.
The HVSEC contends that the state has yet to demonstrate a compelling need for the lines since the beginning of the proceeding. Independent experts agree with our assessment and have published reports that
support this position. Recently, the PSC’s staff issued a recommendation that the PSC use a procedural move that would allow them to proceed without an actual demonstration of need as they once defined it, changing instead to a vague “public policy” rationale that contradicts other strong, established state policies. To make matters worse, the staff recommendation calls for eliminating the proposals that the HVSEC and PSC had determined would have the lowest impacts to communities and key resources.
A major goal of the Energy Highway is to reduce electricity costs in New York City and the surrounding Metropolitan Area by increasing transmission capacity to relieve a “a bottleneck” that makes it expensive to carry power from central New York to downstate customers.
The bottom line: Annual expenses to operate and maintain the proposed transmission lines would very likely be higher than savings they generate. With ratepayers covering 100 percent of project costs—Hudson Valley and downstate ratepayers paying 90 percent of construction costs (up to $1.3 billion) and 80 percent of cost overruns—developers would receive a return on investment with almost no risk. Homeowners and businesses would pay the cost with no benefit.
Expert independent analyses, commissioned by the HVSEC, of the project’s environmental and visual impacts clearly show that all proposals pose potential impacts to historic sites (including Frederic Church’s Olana and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Sites) and prime ecological resources (including sensitive wetlands and endangered species habitats). The analyses also conclude there are several proposals that, based on their environmental and visual effects, should be eliminated from further consideration.
The bottom line: The project is expensive, unnecessary and jeopardizes the very assets that make the Hudson Valley so special and are the foundation of its rebounding economy. Ironically New York State (along with groups like Scenic Hudson) has invested millions of dollars in protecting many of the resources—popular parks and historic sites, farms supplying fresh food to local and New York City markets—now imperiled by this project.