By: AKIKO MATSUDA |
The developer of the proposed 1,000-megawatt transmission line project emphasized an overall benefit of the project during a hearing Tuesday, but opponents weren’t buying it.
The state Senate Energy and Telecommunication Committee conducted a hearing on the project, which would bring Canadian energy to the New York metropolitan area, to determine its impact on northern Rockland.
One of the questions raised among residents was whether the project would use eminent domain to bury the high-voltage direct-current cables along the CSX tracks in Rockland County.
State Sen. George Maziarz, chairman of the energy committee, went right into that question as Donald Jessome, president and CEO of Transmission Developers Inc., testified before a panel of state representatives, including state Sens. David Carlucci, D-Nanuet, and William Larkin, R-New Windsor, as well as Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, R-Blooming Grove, and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, D-New City.
“Is there any way, shape or form that your company considers using eminent domain if they cannot negotiate a settlement with a land owner?” Maziarz said.
Jessome said the project, known as Champlain Hudson Power Express, would not require condemnation because cables would run along Canadian Pacific and CSX rail line right of ways if not buried underwater in the Hudson River or Lake Champlain.
“We have painstakingly worked to ensure that we are on no residential properties,” he said.
But a group of Stony Point residents, led by Susan Filgueras, who has organized a campaign titled “Just Say No! to the Champlain Hudson Power Express,” didn’t believe it.
While showing a project route map, Wellington and Rebecca Casscles of Stony Point told the panel that contrary to the developer’s statement, the power line would go right through the couple’s property on Beach Road.
“I am not interested in negotiating. We are not interested in settling. We just don’t want this,” Rebecca Casscles said. “We have enough power in this state to take care of ourselves. We do not need power from a foreign country.”
Her statement was echoed by testimony from other speakers such as Arthur “Jerry” Kremer, chairman of the New York Affordable ReliableElectricity Alliance.
“If approved, CHPE would jeopardize the viability of numerous in-state power generators, lead to thousands of lost jobs, and send billions of New York dollars to Canada every year for a product that we can better and more efficiently make here,” Kremer said. “This project only stands to benefit its developers and Hydro-Québec who will be given direct access to the downstate New York power market.”
Stony Point Supervisor Geoffrey Finn and Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips agreed, saying both towns have been suffering from a drastically shrinking tax base as the Lovett generating station got demolished and the Bowline station remains as a peak plant.
“Let’s create our energy here. Let’s put our people back to work. Let’s stimulate our economy here,” Finn said. “We certainly don’t need a (power) line coming from Canada all the way to New York City with no benefit to us.”