Regional Coalition Submits Expert Reports Showing Proposed Power Lines Would Have Environmental and Visual Impacts Including Impairment to Roosevelt National Historic Site

Regional Coalition Submits Expert Reports Showing Proposed Power Lines Would Have Environmental and Visual Impacts Including Impairment to Roosevelt National Historic Site

i Jul 7th Comments Off by

HVSEC looks forward to upcoming two-part technical conference

HUDSON VALLEY—The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition (HVSEC) on July 6 submitted to the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) a series of reports by expert consultants. These reports indicate potential major environmental and visual impacts from a current proposal for high-voltage power lines in the Hudson Valley. Research shows some of the proposed projects would threaten the farms and orchards in the heart of the valley’s agricultural region as well as the most-visited natural, cultural and historic sites, including the Roosevelt National Historic Site, where Franklin Roosevelt lived from boyhood through his presidency. The lines proposed under the state’s Energy Highway initiative could reach a height of 120 feet and cut through 25 communities in seven Hudson Valley counties, impacting businesses and regional assets that are the foundation of the region’s economy.

The expert reports will serve as the basis of HVSEC presentations in a PSC Technical Conference on Monday, July 20, to discuss environmental, visual and other impacts of the proposed transmission line projects. The HVSEC also has recently been informed by the PSC that its Department of Public Service staff will require more time to analyze need for the proposed high-voltage power lines, so the part of the Technical Conference that addresses need will be postponed until a future date.

Visual impacts could be damaging to FDR sites, Olana and other job-creating attractions

HVSEC engaged Dr. Richard Smardon, professor emeritus at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, to evaluate potential visual impacts from the transmission line projects. Dr. Smardon found that there was potential for significantly increased visual impacts in the Hudson Valley from some of the project proposals. Agricultural areas in Columbia County are particularly vulnerable to any increase in height or number of transmission towers, due to the significant distance over which lines can be seen on the agricultural landscape. Farms are a major part of the local economy in Columbia County. Agriculture and tourism in Columbia County are responsible for more than 1,400 jobs, and $115 million in spending annually.

In addition, a number of designated Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance would be traversed by the proposed power lines, which could be visible from the Olana State Historic Site and the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, both of which are facilities attracting tens of thousands of visitors per year—and contributing strongly to the local economy—in part due to the scenic beauty of their natural surroundings.

One proposed project would create a new utility corridor directly adjacent to the FDR Home and Library and through the Roosevelt Farm Lane property and Val-Kill. These National Historic Sites are key destinations of the regional tourism economy in Dutchess County that brings in $475 million in spending yearly and is linked to more than 8,400 jobs. New transmission lines towering nearly 100 feet over the bucolic Roosevelt historic sites would detract from the beauty and integrity of these places. The Farm Lane—historically part of the Roosevelt estate and frequented by FDR during his lifetime—was sold by descendants of the president after his death. When Scenic Hudson preserved the land in 2007 and transferred it to the National Park Service, then-U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne termed it “the most important expansion of the Roosevelt National Historic Site that will ever happen.” The construction of new transmission lines through this key link between two National Historic Sites would be a major blow to the integrity of the properties and regional heritage-tourism economy.

Environmental impacts should be of concern to communities and local economies

HVSEC engaged CC Environment & Planning of Batavia, N.Y., to evaluate potential environmental impacts from the transmission line projects under consideration by the PSC. The firm found that all of the proposed projects would likely result in some permanent environmental impacts to wetlands, water resources, and/or sensitive habitat areas within the Hudson Valley. Projects that propose to use a new transmission right-of-way had high potential for significant impacts, and generally projects that consist entirely of reconductoring would have comparatively less impact. Numerous state-designated Significant Coastal Habitats, Significant Natural Communities and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation classified wetlands could be compromised by one or more of the proposals. Two of the proposals involve entirely new transmission rights-of-way that would impact the state-recognized Illinois Mountain Biologically Important Area in Ulster County.

In addition to Hudson Valley and other downstate utility customers paying 90 percent of the projects’ costs—which could exceed $1 billion—as well as 80 percent of any cost overruns, Hudson Valley residents also could lose one of the regional economy’s most important resources—the unique scenic and environmental qualities that attract visitors, companies and skilled workers.

Important environmental, scenic and agricultural lands are the cornerstone of a sustainable Hudson Valley economy. By maintaining scenic working landscapes, rural heritage and quality of life, preserving farmland also helps drive economic growth. A study by The Trust for Public Land notes that executives looking to relocate or start firms rank quality of life—including an abundance of parks and open space—higher than housing, cost of living and good schools. Further, conserved farms safeguard wildlife habitat and environmentally sensitive areas, including local aquifers and drinking-water supplies.

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “While Governor Cuomo has stated his policy preference for projects that stay within existing utility corridors, the Energy Highway continues to attract projects that cast a shadow over the very assets of the Hudson Valley that are generating jobs and contributing to the region’s quality of life. Proposals that could cost ratepayers over $1 billion without demonstrated need and damage heritage sites such as the place where President Roosevelt guided the nation through the Great Depression and World War II should be relegated to the wastebin of history.”

“Large industrial-scale towers are incompatible with the Hudson Valley’s growing agritourism, which is a bright but fragile emerging upstate economy,” said Will Yandik, deputy supervisor of the Town of Livingston and fourth-generation farmer. “Increasingly, viewsheds and scenery are commodities that farmers capitalize on as much as the fresh fruit and produce they raise on their lands.”

Omega Institute for Holistic Studies Chief Executive Officer Robert “Skip” Backus said, “Every so often a decision comes in front of a community that can have impact for generations. For the Hudson Valley the proposed power line development is one of those decisions. The scenic beauty of the region is the foundation of our economic and social well-being and one of the main reasons we chose to call the valley home. My hope, given that we now know there is no need for this project, and the significant negative impact it will have on the region’s environment, is that we will act as stewards of the future and not proceed with the proposed development.”

“The Hudson Valley is one of the finest jewels in New York’s crown and the unique and speciality agriculture that the Hudson Valley has become known for needs to be nurtured and grown rather than be negatively impacted by the shortsighted, archaic and unneeded plan of more and bigger transmission wires to deliver electricity from upstate to downstate,” said Greg Quinn of Walnut Grove Farm. “Don’t downgrade the blooming agriculture industry and burgeoning agritourism in the Hudson Valley with this ill-conceived Energy Highway ‘upgrade.’ ”

“We depend on two major drivers for our economy in Columbia County—tourism and agriculture,” said Farmers and Families for Claverack leader Ian Solomon. “If a project comes along that threatens both of those drivers, we need to step back and take a look at why it’s being proposed, how much it might cost and what the benefit would be to area residents and businesses. So far we’ve been completely unsatisfied with the answers we’ve discovered.”

Coalition remains eager to demonstrate lack of need for proposed power lines

HVSEC also has engaged experts to evaluate whether the proposed transmission lines are needed at all. The PSC has postponed the part of the technical conference that would focus on this issue, so its staff can evaluate new power generation capacity expected to come on line, further reducing the rationale for the transmission solutions. The HVSEC is prepared to present its case on this issue when the PSC is ready to proceed.

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; 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. More information available at www.hvsec.org.

Physicist to Discuss Need for Major Power Lines Projects

i Jun 26th Comments Off by

Saturday, July 11 – Event at Pleasant Valley Town Hall

HUDSON VALLEY—Following rave reviews—from the public and press—at presentations in Columbia and Dutchess counties last fall, an independent research physicist will come to Pleasant Valley to showcase his findings that existing power lines can meet our region’s peak electricity-demand needs well into the future. The presentation will be hosted by members of the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, a broad-based collaboration of community groups and officials partnered with Scenic Hudson in working to protect Hudson Valley communities from potential negative impacts of new high-voltage power lines. The coalition is interested in innovative energy systems that don’t damage community assets. The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is seeking to expand 150 miles of transmission lines that would pass through 7 counties and 25 towns in the Hudson Valley, ultimately reaching their destination in Dutchess County.

The upcoming presentation will be held Saturday, July 11, from 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon in the Pleasant Valley Town Hall, 1554 Main St., Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County.

The presentation—to feature supplemental findings not included in the fall presentations—will be by Bard College Research Professor of Environmental Science and Physics Gidon Eshel, Ph.D., a geophysicist with expertise in data analysis and efficiency metrics. As a credentialed, professional researcher, Dr. Eshel has prepared a scientific analysis of the consumer-demand issue related to the proposed transmission lines. Members of the Hudson Valley Smart Energy coalition will be in attendance and able to provide information about the proposed high-voltage power lines and how citizens can be involved in the regulatory review process being managed by the PSC.

Wide participation sought for presentation

All interested parties are invited to attend to learn about the only independent model to date created to assess electricity-demand need before potentially locking ratepayers into a long-term obligation. Among the attendees sought are state and local representatives, municipal officials, members of the state PSC and New York Independent System Operator, ratepayers concerned with implications of a $1-billion project, and citizens concerned with potential impacts to scenic, historic, farming and general economic assets of the region.

Town of Milan Town Board Member Marion Mathison stated, “Dr. Eshel and the coalition seek scientific review and discussion with the PSC, NYISO, state energy officials, FERC and any and all responsible agencies and scientists. The time to discuss and debate need is now.”

“The Energy Highway threatens the beauty and farmland of the Hudson Valley with towering new transmission lines,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “Governor Cuomo has launched another initiative to reform New York’s power grid through innovation and conservation. Gidon Eshel’s compelling presentation demonstrates new transmission lines are not needed. As a result we can immediately begin the transition to a 21st-century energy system, putting New York in the national vanguard and saving the beauty and economy of the Hudson Valley.”

“Dr. Eshel’s analysis is a game changer. This countywide presentation at Pleasant Valley Town Hall on July 11 is a must for anyone living in, and concerned about, the Hudson River Valley,” said Town of Clinton Supervisor Ray Oberly.

Greg Quinn of Walnut Grove Farm said, “Before entering into a potentially billion-dollar project, we as ratepayers and communities deserve a hard look at whether it’s necessary. We are fortunate to have such an accomplished scientist willing to take on a study such as this, and it will be good to let people know the issue hasn’t gone away, but has perhaps become even more urgent.”

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; 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. More information available at www.hvsec.org.

Regional Coalition Provided Opportunity to Show Lack of Need for Proposed Power Lines

i May 29th Comments Off by

HVSEC will use upcoming PSC technical conference to demonstrate how unnecessary high-voltage lines would cost communities, consumers

HUDSON VALLEY—The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition (HVSEC), a broad-based collaboration of community groups and officials partnered with Scenic Hudson, is encouraged that the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) has scheduled a technical conference in July about proposed high-voltage power lines. Those lines could reach a height of 120 feet and cut through 25 communities in seven Hudson Valley counties. Based on its detailed study that demonstrates no need for the project in terms of electric system reliability, consumer rates, economics or public policy—the HVSEC has been granted an entire day during the two-to-three-day conference to make its case.

In a 39-page comment filing previously submitted to the PSC, the 16 members of the HVSEC highlighted that developers have failed to demonstrate a need for the proposed project and that new information and analysis shows there is no basis for the project. Not only is the project unnecessary, the document argues, it is likely to increase electricity costs, not decrease them.

In addition to the technical conference providing a day for the HVSEC to share expert research and analysis, the event will allow PSC staff and project developers to share information, ask questions and discuss technical aspects of the proposed power lines as well as the PSC’s review of them. The HVSEC expressed gratitude to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and PSC Chair Audrey Zibelman for their initiative in creating the conference.

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “Governor Cuomo and PSC Chair Zibelman deserve kudos for their leadership with this technical conference. The HVSEC looks forward to the chance to share strong data showing that there is no need to pursue this hugely expensive project, which threatens the Hudson Valley’s beauty and farmland. This is another opportunity show support for Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, which would upgrade the state’s power capacity through innovation and energy conservation. We should be pursuing a 21st-century energy system for New York that would put our state in the national vanguard while building on, rather than degrading, the beauty and economy of the Hudson Valley.”

“The way the system works, for-profit utilities and developers make the most profit when they can build something new,” said Ian Solomon of Farmers and Families for Claverack. “New York already has some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. We need to pump the brakes—this isn’t the time to raise New Yorkers’ utility bills for a project that is unnecessary.”

Town of Milan Councilperson Marion Mathison said, “Our residents have already been negatively impacted by this project and are deeply concerned about the possibility of three or four more years in limbo with lives on hold. They hope that this conference demonstrates Governor Cuomo’s and the PSC’s commitment to superior 21st-century energy solutions that are scientifically proven to be needed and in all ratepayers’ best interests.”

“Proposing, and worse promoting, the archaic method of building and utilizing exposed, vulnerable, property-value-destroying high towers to transmit electricity from far away is the antithesis of a modern, forward-thinking energy highway upgrade,” said Greg Quinn, owner of Walnut Grove Farm. “To forge ahead with this project, ignoring an in-depth, scientific study by a renowned professor of physics that clearly demonstrates the absence of need is unconscionable. To saddle the citizens of New York, and specifically the residents of the Hudson Valley, with a $1.3-billion increase in taxes to pay for a project that’s not needed, using what will soon be obsolete technology, further scarring the landscape, reducing property values and damaging farms will, if it’s approved, undoubtedly end up as a powerfully regrettable decision by New York State government.”

Proposed lines not a good deal if they are not needed

Citing recently released information, the HVSEC pointed out that the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) in its new draft Comprehensive Reliability Plan, issued March 30, determined by its own analysis that new electricity transmission capacity is not necessary for the reliability of New York’s electric system. This is significant because NYISO is the independent entity that operates New York’s bulk electricity grid, administers the state’s electricity markets and provides comprehensive and objective reliability planning for the state’s electric grid. In the report, NYISO considered new electricity resources as well as those returning to operation and reduced its projections for future electricity demand, even at peak loads.

Additionally, new research by Bard College Professor of Environmental Science and Physics Dr. Gidon Eshel has bolstered the findings of his late-2014 report on this subject. The earlier study demonstrated that New York has sufficient transmission and generation capacity to handle future peak demand, even if only half the projects NYISO lists as under development ever get built, and even if the Indian Point Energy Center is taken off line.

Cost for projects would fall unfairly on valley ratepayers

HVSEC again asserted concerns about the project costs, which could exceed $1 billion. The coalition continued its objection to the PSC’s plan that ratepayers would pay all project costs (90 percent paid by Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island ratepayers and 10 percent by upstate ratepayers) as well as 80 percent of cost overruns—while there is no evidence ratepayers statewide would benefit from reduced electricity bills. In fact, it is more likely New Yorkers’ rates would increase.

Coalition seeks modern solutions and a forward-looking state energy plan

The HVSEC is interested in innovative energy systems and supports creation of a modern, comprehensive energy plan for New York State. The HVSEC is concerned about major negative impacts the proposed towering, high-voltage power lines could have and is working to protect communities from these impacts. The proposed project could stretch for 150 miles, and the coalition is focused on portions of the power lines that would pass through a large swath of the Hudson Valley, ultimately reaching their destination in Dutchess County. The coalition asserts that the proposed power lines will impact prime agricultural lands, critical environmental areas and the Hudson River, economic health, scenic beauty, public parks, and cultural and historic sites. The HVSEC believes the project is not needed, is likely to cause a further increase in electricity rates and that no project with a negative benefit-to-cost ratio should move forward.

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; 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.

Regional Coalition Files Document with PSC: New Analysis Reinforces Lack of Need for Proposed Power Lines

i May 5th Comments Off by

HUDSON VALLEY—The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition (HVSEC), a broad-based collaboration of community groups and officials partnered with Scenic Hudson, has filed official comments with the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) in its review of proposed high-voltage power lines. Those lines could reach a height of 120 feet and cut through 25 communities in seven Hudson Valley counties. In the technical comments, the 16 members of the HVSEC highlighted that developers still have failed to demonstrate a need for the project and that new information and analysis shows that there is no basis for the project in terms of electric system reliability, consumer rates, economics or public policy. Not only is the project unnecessary, it is likely to increase electricity costs, not decrease them.

Proposed towering power lines not a good deal if they are not needed

Citing recently released information, the HVSEC pointed out that the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) in its new draft Comprehensive Reliability Plan, issued March 30, determined by its own analysis that new electricity transmission capacity is not necessary for the reliability of New York’s electric system. This is significant because NYISO is the independent entity that operates New York’s bulk electricity grid, administers the state’s electricity markets and provides comprehensive and objective reliability planning for the state’s electric grid. In the report, NYISO considered new electricity resources as well as those returning to operation and reduced its projections for future electricity demand, even at peak loads.

Additionally, new research by Bard College Professor of Environmental Science and Physics Dr. Gidon Eshel has bolstered the findings of his late-2014 report on this subject. The earlier study demonstrated that New York has sufficient transmission and generation capacity to handle future peak demand, even if only half the projects NYISO lists as under development ever get built, and even if the Indian Point Energy Center is taken off line.

Cost for projects would fall unfairly on valley ratepayers

HVSEC again asserted concerns about the project costs, which could exceed $1 billion. The coalition continued its objection to the PSC’s plan that ratepayers would pay all project costs (90 percent paid by Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island ratepayers and 10 percent by upstate ratepayers) as well as 80 percent of cost overruns—while there is no evidence ratepayers statewide would benefit from reduced electricity bills. In fact, it is more likely New Yorkers’ rates would increase.

If need is proven, criteria for making project as minimally damaging as possible

The HVSEC comments further stated that if the PSC should rule that one or more of the project proposals should go forward, the coalition has criteria it believes must be met. Projects that require acquisition of additional rights-of-way should not be selected to move forward, the coalition argued. The coalition believes consideration only should be given to projects that have no new visual impacts, or that would improve views, and that have the least impact on environmental resources. Each of the 20 different proposals submitted by the four developers has potential impacts to unique and sensitive Hudson Valley resources.

“There is no need to pursue this hugely expensive project, which threatens the beauty and farmland of the Hudson Valley,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “Governor Cuomo has launched another initiative, Reforming the Energy Vision, which would upgrade the state’s power grid through innovation and ongoing energy conservation. We should be pursuing that more enlightened path to providing New York with a 21st-century energy system. This approach would put our state in the national vanguard while building on, rather than degrading, the beauty and economy of the Hudson Valley.”

“The ratepayers of New York State cannot be asked to put up more than a billion dollars when neither the state nor utilities can demonstrate that these new projects would lead to better service or cheaper rates,” said Town of Livingston Deputy Supervisor Will Yandik. “New York families and small businesses are already struggling with some of the highest rates in the country.”

Omega Institute for Holistic Studies CEO Skip Backus stated, “As CEO of Omega Institute I often find myself in conversation with other business owners in the Hudson Valley. Without exception the conversation goes to the cost of electricity in the valley and the fact that the proposed plan will do nothing to lower our rates and in fact will actually increase them and compromise the environment. The proposed project makes no sense given there has been no proven need. My hope is we can come together and find a way to better serve the citizens and businesses of the Hudson Valley.”

Dan Duthie, an attorney representing four towns, two citizens groups and one farm in the HVSEC, observed, “According to analysis by the New York Independent System Operator, the cost for this transmission project would likely exceed any savings ratepayers would get from the project. Simply put, this means that the ‘solution’ is more expensive than the problem.”

Coalition seeks modern solutions and a forward-looking state energy plan

The HVSEC is interested in innovative energy systems and supports creation of a modern, comprehensive energy plan for New York State. The HVSEC is concerned about major negative impacts the proposed towering, high-voltage power lines could have and is working to protect communities from these impacts. The proposed project could stretch for 150 miles, and the coalition is focused on portions of the power lines that would pass through a large swath of the Hudson Valley, ultimately reaching their destination in Dutchess County. The coalition asserts that the proposed power lines threaten prime agricultural lands, critical environmental areas and the Hudson River, economic health, scenic beauty, public parks, and cultural and historic sites. The project is not needed and will likely cause electricity rates to go up.

The HVSEC—which includes municipal officials; environmental, cultural, historic and land preservation organizations; businesses; and residents—calls on the PSC to either provide a robust review on the issue of need now or suspend the process until need can be conclusively demonstrated using the most up-to-date and comprehensive information. Additionally, the coalition believes no project that has a negative benefit-to-cost ratio should move forward.

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; 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.

Proposed towering power lines not a good deal if they are not needed

Citing recently released information, the HVSEC pointed out that the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) in its new draft Comprehensive Reliability Plan, issued March 30, determined by its own analysis that new electricity transmission capacity is not necessary for the reliability of New York’s electric system. This is significant because NYISO is the independent entity that operates New York’s bulk electricity grid, administers the state’s electricity markets and provides comprehensive and objective reliability planning for the state’s electric grid. In the report, NYISO considered new electricity resources as well as those returning to operation and reduced its projections for future electricity demand, even at peak loads.

Additionally, new research by Bard College Professor of Environmental Science and Physics Dr. Gidon Eshel has bolstered the findings of his late-2014 report on this subject. The earlier study demonstrated that New York has sufficient transmission and generation capacity to handle future peak demand, even if only half the projects NYISO lists as under development ever get built, and even if the Indian Point Energy Center is taken off line.

Cost for projects would fall unfairly on valley ratepayers

HVSEC again asserted concerns about the project costs, which could exceed $1 billion. The coalition continued its objection to the PSC’s plan that ratepayers would pay all project costs (90 percent paid by Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island ratepayers and 10 percent by upstate ratepayers) as well as 80 percent of cost overruns—while there is no evidence ratepayers statewide would benefit from reduced electricity bills. In fact, it is more likely New Yorkers’ rates would increase.

If need is proven, criteria for making project as minimally damaging as possible

The HVSEC comments further stated that if the PSC should rule that one or more of the project proposals should go forward, the coalition has criteria it believes must be met. Projects that require acquisition of additional rights-of-way should not be selected to move forward, the coalition argued. The coalition believes consideration only should be given to projects that have no new visual impacts, or that would improve views, and that have the least impact on environmental resources. Each of the 20 different proposals submitted by the four developers has potential impacts to unique and sensitive Hudson Valley resources.

“There is no need to pursue this hugely expensive project, which threatens the beauty and farmland of the Hudson Valley,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “Governor Cuomo has launched another initiative, Reforming the Energy Vision, which would upgrade the state’s power grid through innovation and ongoing energy conservation. We should be pursuing that more enlightened path to providing New York with a 21st-century energy system. This approach would put our state in the national vanguard while building on, rather than degrading, the beauty and economy of the Hudson Valley.”

“The ratepayers of New York State cannot be asked to put up more than a billion dollars when neither the state nor utilities can demonstrate that these new projects would lead to better service or cheaper rates,” said Town of Livingston Deputy Supervisor Will Yandik. “New York families and small businesses are already struggling with some of the highest rates in the country.”

Omega Institute for Holistic Studies CEO Skip Backus stated, “As CEO of Omega Institute I often find myself in conversation with other business owners in the Hudson Valley. Without exception the conversation goes to the cost of electricity in the valley and the fact that the proposed plan will do nothing to lower our rates and in fact will actually increase them and compromise the environment. The proposed project makes no sense given there has been no proven need. My hope is we can come together and find a way to better serve the citizens and businesses of the Hudson Valley.”

Dan Duthie, an attorney representing four towns, two citizens groups and one farm in the HVSEC, observed, “According to analysis by the New York Independent System Operator, the cost for this transmission project would likely exceed any savings ratepayers would get from the project. Simply put, this means that the ‘solution’ is more expensive than the problem.”

Coalition seeks modern solutions and a forward-looking state energy plan

The HVSEC is interested in innovative energy systems and supports creation of a modern, comprehensive energy plan for New York State. The HVSEC is concerned about major negative impacts the proposed towering, high-voltage power lines could have and is working to protect communities from these impacts. The proposed project could stretch for 150 miles, and the coalition is focused on portions of the power lines that would pass through a large swath of the Hudson Valley, ultimately reaching their destination in Dutchess County. The coalition asserts that the proposed power lines threaten prime agricultural lands, critical environmental areas and the Hudson River, economic health, scenic beauty, public parks, and cultural and historic sites. The project is not needed and will likely cause electricity rates to go up.

The HVSEC—which includes municipal officials; environmental, cultural, historic and land preservation organizations; businesses; and residents—calls on the PSC to either provide a robust review on the issue of need now or suspend the process until need can be conclusively demonstrated using the most up-to-date and comprehensive information. Additionally, the coalition believes no project that has a negative benefit-to-cost ratio should move forward.

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; 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.

PSC to Review Need for Power Lines Project, Falls Short on Seeking Conclusive Determination

i Dec 12th Comments Off by

HUDSON VALLEY—The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition (HVSEC), a broad-based coalition of community groups and officials partnered with Scenic Hudson, today commended the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) for moving to seek more information on the need for proposed new power lines that could reach a height of 165 feet and cut through 25 communities in seven counties of the Hudson Valley. However, the HVSEC is disappointed that the PSC did not suspend further consideration of this proceeding until the regulatory agency can demonstrate conclusively that the project is needed and that the benefits to consumers outweigh the costs. The PSC announcement, made at its scheduled meeting today, comes in the wake of strong public opposition and a slew of recent information that calls into question the need for the new power lines.

The PSC today called for project developers to provide more information on their view of the need issue and committed to holding a technical conference on these issues in June 2015. However, the PSC fell short of indicating that the technical conference would provide formal participants in the process—such as Scenic Hudson and other members of the HVSEC—an opportunity to challenge the need and cost-benefit assertions and provide additional information of value to all stakeholders.

The HVSEC is concerned about major negative impacts the proposed towering, high-voltage power lines could have and is working to protect communities from these impacts. The proposed project could stretch for 150 miles, and the coalition is focused on portions of the power lines that would pass through a large swath of the Hudson Valley, ultimately reaching their destination in Dutchess County. The HVSEC is interested in innovative energy systems and supports creation of a modern, comprehensive energy plan for the state and Hudson Valley. The coalition said the proposed project threatens prime agricultural lands, critical environmental areas and the Hudson River, economic health, scenic beauty, public parks and cultural and historic sites.

The HVSEC—which includes municipal officials; environmental, cultural, historic and land preservation organizations; businesses; and residents—calls on the PSC to either provide a robust review on the issue of need now or suspend the process until need can be conclusively demonstrated using the most up-to-date and comprehensive information.

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; 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. More information available at www.hvsec.org

Physicist’s Research Shows Power Line Expansion Not Needed

i Nov 3rd Comments Off by

HUDSON VALLEY—Following rave reviews—from the public and press—at a recent presentation in Columbia County, an independent research geophysicist came to Dutchess County to showcase his findings that existing power lines can meet our region’s peak electricity-demand needs well into the future. The presentation was hosted by members of the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, a broad-based collaboration of community groups and officials partnered with Scenic Hudson in working to protect Hudson Valley communities from potential negative impacts of new high-voltage power lines. The coalition is interested in innovative energy systems that don’t damage community assets. The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is seeking to expand 150 miles of transmission lines that would pass through 7 counties and 25 towns in the valley, ultimately reaching their destination in Dutchess County.

Professor Gidon Eishel Analysis of Need for Proposed Power Lines Upgrades from Scenic Hudson on Vimeo.

 

A crowd of over 250 people attended the presentation Saturday afternoon in the Bertelsmann Campus Center at Bard College to hear from Bard College Research Professor of Environmental Science and Physics Gidon Eshel, Ph.D. Dr. Eshel told the group that existing electricity infrastructure can handle downstate peak power loads until at least 2040. Dr. Eshel devoted over 350 hours this summer to conduct the research, analyzing data on mean and peak energy usage, electricity congestion, climate trends and regional demographics. His preliminary analyses have led Dr. Eshel to three key variables determining downstate peak loads: total downstate population, annual maximum temperatures and age distribution of the population.

“There’s simply no need for the proposed power lines at any time between now and 2040. The population rise in New York is not continuing at the pace that it has historically exhibited. In addition, the ratio of those ages 25 to 45 to those ages 45 to 70 has been steadily declining in recent decades, but this is expected to reverse in coming decades,” said Dr. Eshel, “which is important because the young use less energy per capita than the middle aged. Even assuming no energy efficiency gains or renewable energy proliferation, you still see no need for this project.”

A geophysicist with expertise in data analysis and efficiency metrics, Dr. Eshel did not take on the research project as part of a university, agency or even for the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, but as an independent researcher. His property could be impacted by the proposed power lines, and he was motivated as a credentialed, professional researcher to prepare a scientific analysis of the consumer-demand issue. While Dr. Eshel is not a member of the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, members of the coalition were at the presentation to provide information about the proposed high-voltage power lines and how citizens can be involved in the regulatory review process being managed by the PSC.

People attended the event to learn about the only independent model to date created to assess electricity-demand need before potentially locking ratepayers into a long-term obligation. Citizens also learned about potential impacts the proposed power lines could have on the scenic, historic, farming and general economic assets of the region.

“The Energy Highway threatens the Hudson Valley’s beauty and farmland with towering new transmission lines,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “Governor Cuomo has launched another initiative to reform New York’s power grid through innovation and conservation. Gidon Eshel’s compelling presentation shows new transmission lines are not needed. As a result we can immediately begin the transition to a 21st-century energy system, putting New York in the national vanguard and saving the beauty and economy of the Hudson Valley.”

Town of Milan Town Board Member Marion Mathison stated, “Dr. Eshel and the coalition seek scientific review and discussion with the PSC, NYISO, state energy officials, FERC and any and all responsible agencies and scientists. The time to discuss and debate need is now.”

Welcoming remarks at the presentation were offered by Bard College President Dr. Leon Botstein. In addressing the crowd, Dr. Botstein said, “Dr. Eshel is a rigorous man. Environmental policy is often emotional and driven by love of where we live and the desire to preserve it, but he is a stickler for evidence and a stickler for science.”

Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro in making introductory remarks said, “The State of New York needs to prove its case…don’t play politics with the environment, don’t play politics with people’s homes. Our County believes that if there is a problem to be solved and a sacrifice to be made, that it is not going to be done in a way that destroys our natural resources.”

Town of Livingston Deputy Supervisor and fourth-generation farmer Will Yandik said in introducing Dr. Eshel, “The state has not done this work yet, and so we must do it for them.”

Other public officials attending the event included New York State Assembly Member Didi Barrett and Dutchess County Legislators Gregg Pulver and Sue Serino. Representatives from the office of New York State Senator Terry Gipson also were in attendance.

Other members of the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition who were on hand for the presentation offered their thoughts.

“Dr. Eshel’s analysis is a game changer. Anyone living in, and concerned about, the Hudson River Valley needs to become aware of this issue. People also need to get active through a no-cost membership with the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition,” said Pam Kline of Farmers and Families for Livingston.

Ian Solomon, with Farmers and Families for Claverack, said, “Before entering into a potentially billion-dollar project, we as ratepayers and communities deserve a hard look at whether it’s necessary. We are fortunate to have such an accomplished scientist willing to take on a study such as this, and it will be good to let people know the issue hasn’t gone away, but has perhaps become even more urgent.”

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; environmental, 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. More information available at www.hvsec.org

Physicist to Discuss Need for Major Power Lines Projects

i Oct 28th Comments Off by

Eshel-header-rev_640

Nov. 1 – Bard College event to follow big turnout at Columbia County venue

HUDSON VALLEY—Following rave reviews—from the public and press—at a recent presentation in Columbia County, an independent research physicist will come to Dutchess County to showcase his findings that existing power lines can meet our region’s peak electricity-demand needs well into the future. The presentation will be hosted by members of the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, a broad-based collaboration of community groups and officials partnered with Scenic Hudson in working to protect Hudson Valley communities from potential negative impacts of new high-voltage power lines. The coalition is interested in innovative energy systems that don’t damage community assets. The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is seeking to expand 150 miles of transmission lines that would pass through 7 counties and 25 towns in the Hudson Valley, ultimately reaching their destination in Dutchess County.

The upcoming presentation will be held Saturday, Nov. 1, from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Bertelsmann Campus Center Multipurpose Room at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.

The presentation will be by Bard College Research Professor of Environmental Science and Physics Gidon Eshel, Ph.D., a geophysicist with expertise in data analysis and efficiency metrics. Dr. Eshel did not take on the research project as part of a university, agency or even for the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, but as an independent researcher. His property could be impacted by the proposed power lines, and he was motivated as a credentialed, professional researcher to prepare a scientific analysis of the consumer-demand issue. While Dr. Eshel is not a member of the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, members of the coalition will be in attendance and able to provide information about the proposed high-voltage power lines and how citizens can be involved in the regulatory review process being managed by the PSC.

Wide participation sought for presentation

All interested parties are invited to attend to learn about the only independent model to date created to assess electricity-demand need before potentially locking ratepayers into a long-term obligation. Among the attendees sought are state and local representatives, municipal officials, members of the state PSC and New York Independent System Operator, ratepayers concerned with implications of a $1-billion project, and citizens concerned with potential impacts to scenic, historic, farming and general economic assets of the region.

Town of Milan Town Board Member Marion Mathison stated, “Dr. Eshel and the coalition seek scientific review and discussion with the PSC, NYISO, state energy officials, FERC and any and all responsible agencies and scientists. The time to discuss and debate need is now.”

“The Energy Highway threatens the beauty and farmland of the Hudson Valley with towering new transmission lines,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “Governor Cuomo has launched another initiative to reform New York’s power grid through innovation and conservation. Gidon Eshel’s compelling presentation demonstrates new transmission lines are not needed. As a result we can immediately begin the transition to a 21st century energy system, putting New York on the national vanguard and saving the beauty and economy of the Hudson Valley.”

“Dr. Eshel’s analysis is a game changer. This countywide presentation at Bard College on November 1 is a must for anyone living in, and concerned about, the Hudson River Valley,” said Pam Kline of Farmers and Families for Livingston.

Ian Solomon, with Farmers and Families for Claverack, said, “Before entering into a potentially billion-dollar project, we as ratepayers and communities deserve a hard look at whether it’s necessary. We are fortunate to have such an accomplished scientist willing to take on a study such as this, and it will be good to let people know the issue hasn’t gone away, but has perhaps become even more urgent.”

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; environmental, historic and land preservation organizations; businesses; and residents who oppose outdated power lines and support creation of a modern, comprehensive energy plan for the Hudson Valley and New York State. See this page for additional information and directions.

Physicist to Discuss Need for Major Power Lines Projects

i Oct 10th Comments Off by

HUDSON VALLEY—Two presentations by an independent research physicist will showcase his findings that existing power lines can meet our region’s peak electricity-demand needs well into the future. (more…)

Coalition Criticizes New PSC Plan for Power Lines Proceeding

i Sep 4th Comments Off by

Contact: Jay Burgess, Scenic Hudson, 845 473 4440, Ext. 222, jburgess@scenichudson.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 4, 2014

Coalition urges citizen action to show continued public opposition, says scheme unfairly burdens Hudson Valley

HUDSON VALLEY—The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, a broad-based coalition of community groups and officials partnered with Scenic Hudson, today signaled major problems with the state’s Department of Public Service staff recommendations concerning proposals for expansion of more than 150 miles of transmission lines. The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition is focused on portions of the proposed lines that would pass through 7 counties and 25 towns in the Hudson Valley, ultimately reaching their destination in Dutchess County.

In official comments submitted yesterday to the Public Service Commission (PSC), members of the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition criticized the regulatory agency’s proposal for:

  • failing to demonstrate need for the proposed project and failing to call for an independent study of current electricity demand, technological innovations and efficiency efforts such as demand-side management;
  • lacking any consideration of a multitude of current electricity projects that are further along in the regulatory process and likely to answer demand and reliability issues;
  • failing to require projects to conform to existing rights-of-way to minimize environmental and landowner impacts;
  • proposing a lengthy process for project applicants that will leave property owners and businesses suffering economic harm from decreased property values and stifled business opportunities while also providing limited time for groups or citizens to study and comment on proposals moving forward;
  • proposing that consumers—including ratepayers in areas of the Hudson Valley that would be hardest hit by negative impacts from the proposed transmission lines—pay for cost overruns associated with the projects.

Coalition calls for suspension of process until need is proved and alternatives studied

For these reasons the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition called on the PSC to suspend consideration of the transmission project proposals by the four project applicants until the threshold question of need for the project can be answered, as well as analysis of alternative solutions that would meet the state’s energy needs without damaging unique community assets. These potentially threatened assets include scenic beauty, productive farmland, tourism and agricultural economies, municipal tax bases, cultural/historic assets, critical wetlands and wildlife.

Other projects not considered that would provide solutions without new Hudson Valley power lines

The PSC has not considered the many pending transmission and generation projects that would alleviate the same transmission constraints and congestion costs that the proposed power line projects seek to resolve. For example, the following projects have received all necessary regulatory approvals—the Champlain Hudson Power Express, the CPV Valley Energy Center and the Transmission Owner Transmission Solutions projects proposed in the Indian Point Retirement Contingency Plan. The Danskammer generating station also plans to restart operations in the coming months. While the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition does not endorse any of these projects, all could have an impact on transmission congestion in the corridor. While there is no certainty they will all be constructed, these and other projects must be considered before the PSC determines the need for new transmission lines that would damage the Hudson Valley.

Cost structures for projects are greatly unfair to Hudson Valley residents and over-generous to developers

In its recent recommendations, the state’s Department of Public Service has recommended that 90 percent of costs be borne by customers in the Hudson Valley and downstate and 10 percent of costs by upstate customers. Further, it recommended that cost overruns be split 80/20 so that consumers cover the 80-percent share.
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “We’re very disappointed with the latest ill-conceived Department of Public Service staff proposal—which continues to unfairly burden Hudson Valley property owners and ratepayers. The PSC is laying the groundwork for proposals as high as $750 million without demonstrating if the project is necessary. The PSC is continuing to solicit business-as-usual technologies and ignoring less expensive approaches that could spare our region long-term harm. The latest proposal recommends sticking ratepayers in our region with the big-ticket expenses and major exposure on any developer cost over-runs. Worst of all, the PSC is moving to lock our region and state into an outdated approach to electricity for generations to come. Citizens, municipal officials and conservation and preservation groups have been citing these issues all along in the process, and it appears all these concerns have been ignored.”

“This proposal really fails to take into account the governor’s preferred policy preference of no longer, no wider and no higher for new transmission infrastructure. I was especially disappointed to see a recommendation from the PSC’s staff that developers be reimbursed for even their unsuccessful project applications, while farmers, businesspeople and property owners are still required to shoulder all of the loss of income and property value caused by the proceeding,” said Ian Solomon of Farmers and Families for Claverack.

Current transmission line proceedings out of step with governor’s vision for state being an energy leader

The Department of Public Service staff recommendation is out of step with the PSC’s announced intention to create a 21st-century power grid that will enable New Yorkers to better manage and reduce their energy costs while protecting and preserving the environment. The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition supports this goal, but the current PSC transmission proceedings cut against that important effort. While the PSC’s vision for a modern state energy system calls for a substantial transformation of utility practices that would result in energy conservation, locally generated renewable energy sources and consumer choice, the Department of Public Service staff recommendation on the transmission proceeding seeks to lock in and potentially exacerbate the burdens associated with the existing outmoded transmission system.

Coalition launches membership drive and petition to signal rising call for smarter energy solutions

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition encourages concerned citizens to join those standing up for a better energy future by signing up as members at www.hvsec.org. Members can access information about the coalition’s campaign and will be alerted to opportunities to help move the state toward advancing a modern energy system that fuels community and economic progress and avoids technologies that damage communities and haven’t advanced in nearly a century.

As part of its efforts to promote energy solutions that won’t permanently damage communities, the coalition has created a petition. Launched on Aug. 28, the petition already has generated 2,000 signatures of people who will only support electricity systems that honor the beauty, natural integrity and historical legacy of the Hudson Valley; that reflect state-of-the-art technology and execution and which include greater emphasis on energy efficiency and conservation; and that include a clear cost-benefit analysis and outline a specific independently proven need.

“In addition to the online petition signatures, we have gathered more than 1,500 handwritten signatures from people at farmers’ markets and other events. In just the first two weeks, we are hearing the voice of the Hudson Valley being raised through a petition designed to allow the citizens and friends of all the towns in the Hudson Valley to come together with an aggregated message saying new high-voltage power lines are not welcome,” said Sharon Kotler, founding member of No Monster Power Lines.

About the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition

The Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition includes municipal officials; environmental, historic and land preservation organizations; businesses; and residents who oppose outdated power lines and support creation of a modern, comprehensive energy plan for the Hudson Valley and New York State.