Coalition Fights Overhead Power Lines in New York
A coalition of community associations, towns, land conservancy associations and other institutions is fighting proposed new and expanded overhead high voltage transmission lines that are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “New York Energy Highway” initiative (New York Times, Register-Star). In particular, the coalition is opposed to proposed construction of new above-ground transmission lines along a 153-mile-long swath that runs right through the historic and environmentally-rich Hudson River Valley. More than 80 municipalities in 18 counties would be negatively impacted, including 24 municipalities in the Hudson River Valley.
The coalition has articulated the following concerns and positions:
1. Lines would negatively affect property values and businesses.
2. The new or expanded power lines would halt additional building projects.
3. Transmission lines should be buried.
5. Opposed to taking of land by eminent domain (expropriation).
6. Support locally-generated renewable power, other types of distributed generation, and conservation to reduce need for new transmission capacity.
7. Any new required transmission capacity should be built within existing corridors.
8. Review need for new transmission capacity based on current data about electricity supply and demand.
Other concerns raised by New York residents about the proposed overhead transmission lines include the decreased tax base resulting from plummeting land values, health risks of higher-voltage lines and loss of local tourism.
The Columbia County Board of Supervisors and the towns of Claverack, Livingston, Stuyvesant and Stockport have all passed resolutions denouncing any upgrade plans that would seize land through eminent domain or upset the bucolic or historical nature of Columbia County. The coalition opposed to the power lines as planned also includes the following: Scenic Hudson, Town of Clinton, Clinton Concerned Citizens, Dutchess County, Dutchess Land Conservancy, Farmers and Families for Claverack, Farmers and Families for Livingston, Town of Milan, Olana Partnership, Omega Institute, Preservation League of New York State, Town of Pleasant Valley, Winnakee Land Trust and No Monster Power Lines.
There has been much talk within the State of New York about the benefits of burying the transmission lines, which is a technology that has become well-developed in the past few decades, and can be as cost-effective as building above-ground, especially when the capital, maintenance and transmission loss costs are combined over the life of the lines. A former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recently pointed out that buried lines are more resilient during severe storms. He described projects in Connecticut and New Hampshire where “a compromise has been struck where some transmission has been underground at the most aesthetically sensitive places.”