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New power line proposed for county

By: Nathan Mayberg |

New high voltage power lines with 95-foot high towers stretching across have been proposed for Columbia County and Greene County.

Representatives from NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida-based company, met with the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Wednesday to discuss plans for building the electric transmission lines, which would run from Oneida County to Dutchess County.

Supervisors were not overly enthusiastic with the proposal, with several making statements about how the electricity would be benefiting consumers in New York City and Long Island, but not in Columbia County.
The proposal is separate from another controversial power line proposal which would connect lines in Ghent and Chatham.

Supervisor John Porreca, R-Greenport, expressed concern about electromagnetic radiation from the lines.

Monique Brechter, executive director of development for NextEra Energy, said that would be studied.

“We will study that so we don’t expose people to (electromagnetic radiation), so we don’t expose people in schools and hospital,” Brechter said.

“This is somebody else’s electricity,” Supervisor Robin Andrews, D-Claverack, said Wednesday following the proposal.

“We really won’t have much say,” Andrews said.

Brechter said the New York Public Service Commission will be asking questions and looking for input when they review the application for the lines.

Supervisor Ron Knott, R-Stuyvesant, while skeptical of who would benefit, said the electric lines could raise the assessments of the land on which they sat.

“They want to keep building in our backyard,” Supervisor Thomas Garrick, R-Gallatin said. Meanwhile, plants downstate are being shut down, he said.

Maps passed out by project manager Tara Morgan, showed two different proposals for the lines.

One line, called the New Scotland-Leeds-Pleasant Valley 345kB Route, would pass through the towns of Greenport and Livingston.

The other, called the Knickerbocker-Pleasant Valley 345kB Route would go through the Columbia County towns of Stuyvesant, Stockport, Ghent, Claverack, Livingston and Gallatin.

It is not clear if the company would have to buy property to build the power lines, or owns any.

“We don’t steamroll over people. We work with people,” Brechter said. The towers will be 10 to 15 feet higher than the electric line towers currently throughout the county.

The company is one of two proposing to build high voltage lines throughout Columbia County in response to an initiative by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to build more transmission lines for electricity throughout the state.

New York Transco, a conglomerate of National Grid, Central Hudson, Niagara Mohawk, NYSEG, the New York Power Authority and Long Island Power Authority are applying to take on 18 transmission line projects, including the construction of a 40-mile line through Columbia, Dutchess and Greene counties.

A report issued by Transco on its plans show that it would have to receive local zoning code approvals, as well as a long list of state zoning regulatory hurdles. The permit process is estimated by the company to take three years.

A message left with New York Transco was not returned.

Andrews said she had not heard about the proposed projects which could run through her town until Wednesday’s meeting with the NextEra group. “We have not received anything from them.” She said the company’s have applied to the state to build the lines but no information from the state has been received yet.

“It’s very helpful to know that the project’s happening,” she said. “We’ll make sure that it doesn’t slip under the radar.” Andrews said she wants to find out more information.

A message left with Gov. Cuomo’s office requesting information was not immediately returned.