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Local News

March 29, 2014

Advocacy group gets $65K for power-grid fight

The Otsego County Conservation Association has been awarded $65,000 to assist in its advocacy on behalf of scores of property owners who would be affected by a proposed high-voltage power grid that would run through seven towns in the county and several others in Delaware County.

The decision to award the funding was made by an administrative law judge for the state Public Service Commission. The agency is reviewing a power line project proposed by North America Transmission. The 345-kilovolt line would run largely parallel to the existing Marcy South line, from Edic to the Fraser substation in the town of Delhi.

The local group is working with attorney Douglas Zamelis of Springfield, who specializes in environmental law.

“Our job is to make sure the record is informed from the perspective of those of us on the ground here in Otsego County,” Zamelis said.

Locally, the proposed new power line has met with a chilly reception from both state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and Harpersfield Town Supervisor James Eisel, a Republican and the chairman of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors.

The two are generally in favor of economic development. But in this case, they question why local landowners would have to be impacted by a project that is aimed at bringing power generated in upstate New York to New York City area ratepayers, with minimal benefit to upstate communities.

The proposed project is tied to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for an “energy highway” that would connect New York City to upstate sources of electricity and potentially cut costs for ratepayers in downstate communities.

“The siting, construction and operation of high-voltage electric power transmission lines and associated facilities such as substations and converter stations present the potential for a number of adverse environmental effects,” OCCA president Vicky Lentz and director Darla Youngs said in a letter this month to more than 200 landowners who would be impacted.

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