The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

January 18, 2014

In Our Opinion: Power to the people ... but where?

The Daily Star

---- — A proposed high-voltage transmission line has become the latest political football in the eternal struggle between upstate and downstate New York.

A company called North America Transmission is proposing building a $250 million to $290 million power line that would run mostly parallel to the existing New York Power Authority Marcy South grid, cutting through Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego and Delaware counties.

It’s estimated that the new line would expand the width of the existing corridor by about 150 feet. That doesn’t sound like much, but it could cause no little inconvenience for those with an acute concern for the environment or whose property might be needed to complete the process.

A public meeting on the project will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the New Lisbon town hall, according to Barbara Monroe, the environmental control officer for the town of Milford and the land-use officer for the town of Laurens.

Those at the meeting will presumably be asking why the company has designs on another swath of upstate New York

The answer is that the power line would presumably reduce the cost of electricity in New York City.

Well, fine, but what’s in it for us?

That question also occurred to state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, who told The Daily Star last week that he has “significant questions and concerns” about the project.

“Is there going to be an impact on our costs for electricity here upstate?” Seward said. “That’s one of my concerns.”

It’s not just electricity, of course, that causes strife between rural and city denizens. Our reservoirs provide clean, fresh, unfiltered water to those who live downstate, and because of that, restrictions — if not total bans — have been placed on natural gas drilling in the watershed areas.

On the other hand, statistics from 2010 show that New York City contributes more than 45 percent of the state’s taxes and other revenues while getting back only 40 percent from the state. Upstate counties — excluding the Capital region — account for 24 percent of the state’s taxes and revenues but receive 35 percent of the state’s largess.

The license for the Indian Point nuclear reactor — the source of 25 percent of the metropolitan area’s power needs — is set to expire in 2015. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he wants to reduce the state’s four-year approval process for power-line projects that use existing utility corridors.

When it comes to representing the concerns of local residents about this project, it’s important that Seward and other upstate leaders do their utmost to make sure the needs of the many living downstate don’t supersede the needs of the relative few here in upstate New York.