Power lines in Clinton. Margaret Wentworth / The Observer
Power lines in Clinton. Margaret Wentworth / The Observer

Power line proposals return to the drawing board

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The state Public Service Commission is modifying its plans for new high-voltage power lines that would travel through Dutchess County.

In a news release Feb. 20, the commission announced that project developers would be encouraged to resubmit proposals that stick solely to existing transmission corridors.

PSC administrative law judges must now come up with a process by which the applicants can resubmit their proposals with modifications or submit entirely new proposals that fit the new standards, the release said.

The PSC also announced that in the future it will be streamlining its review process to create “an expedited, 10-month review process for future transmission projects that can be built wholly within existing utility or state-owned rights-of-way.”

The two decisions are “separate but related,” according to the release, so while the transmission upgrade proposals currently under consideration will not be part of the expedited process, many of the goals will be the same under a state blueprint that seeks to relieve energy transmission congestion.

“Our efforts to achieve the objectives of the blueprint must, however, be undertaken in a manner that reflects, and, wherever possible, promotes, other important energy policy priorities,” the ruling states, noting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address proposed the idea of an expedited process for projects that stay in the existing rights-of-way.

The change creates a challenge for three of the four energy companies whose proposals would would affect Milan, Clinton and parts of Hyde Park; their plans indicated they might need to appropriate as much as 150 feet of land outside of the existing right-of-way along the planned route.

The proposals came out of a request of the Energy Highway Task Force, created by Cuomo in 2012, to produce the “blueprint” for improving the state’s overall energy infrastructure and relieve congestion in the transmission of energy from upstate to downstate.

The PSC then solicited proposals for constructing transmission lines with at least 1000-megawatt capacity along an existing 150-mile-plus route from an Oneida County substation to either Pleasant Valley or Orange or Rockland County.

Last month, PSC law judges delayed indefinitely the deadline for initial and reactive comments to the five proposals that were filed. And local groups have been busy lodging their concern about the project.

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