[Updated: May 8 (corrected "Gerald" Bunting to "Jerry" Bunting; corrected "Cappalano" to "Capuano;" added Public Service Commission affiliation in reference to Heather Bencke and Jeremy Flaum); May 12 (corrected "Bencke" to "Behnke")]
The E.J. Arthur Elementary School in Athens was the site last month of two public hearings held by the New York State Public Service Commission on the West Point Partners high voltage buried cable and DC converter station project. More than 150 people attended the second of the two hearings, held Wed., Apr. 23. Commission representatives Heather Behnke and Jeremy Flaum began the evening with a presentation about the Article VII process, then took questions. They were followed by Chris Hocker, Vice President of Planning for the Fairfield, Conn.-based private investment firm Power Bridge, LLC. Power Bridge is West Point’s parent company.
During the public hearing that followed, various community members, activists and public officials offered comments in front of Judge Kevin Casutto: PLAY (3:24). The Athens Town and Village boards are on the record in opposition to the project’s proposed route, but neither government has opposed the siting of the converter station or the project overall. A similar public hearing was held before Casutto, Fri., Apr. 30, in Cortlandt, the location of the project’s southern terminus. Andrea Smallwood and Sam Sebren attended that hearing on behalf of the Athens Citizens Development Committee. During that hearing, Cortlandt elected officials expressed unanimous opposition to the proposal.
The West Point Partners project is part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Energy Highway initiative, and is intended to deliver additional energy to New York City. According to its proposal, West Point would construct a 1,000 megawatt converter station in the town of Athens and a second in the hamlet of Verplanck. The two stations would be connected by a buried High Voltage Direct Current cable extending 80 miles, eight feet beneath the bottom of the Hudson River. Ed. note: Sebren attended and participated in these hearings. He is a founding member of the Athens Citizens Development Committee. Read more about the West Point Partners project online at newsroom.wgxc.org.
– Sam Sebren
New York State Public Service Commission Public Hearing
April 23, 2014
E.J. Arthur Elementary School, Athens
All audio recorded and produced by Sam Sebren.
Collage: Citizen comments: PLAY (3:24)
Heather Behnke and Jeremy Flaum, New York State Public Service Commission
Full presentation: PLAY (23:15).
Commission presentation Q&A
Commission permit details (John Drew); project financing (Cecilia Tkaczyk); waiver requests and local law (Sam Sebren): PLAY (15:23).
Chris Hocker, Vice President, Planning, Power Bridge LLC
West Point Partners presentation: PLAY (11:59).
West Point presentation Q&A
Size of converter station (anonymous); disruption to roads while cable is laid (John Drew); noise (Luke Weiller); alternative routes (Tina Chaden); cost and economic impact on the village (Cecilia Tkaczyk): PLAY (12:41).
Derek Apa, Athens resident, Central Hudson lineman
Speaks in opposition to the project: PLAY (3:47).
Audrey Friedrichsen, Attorney for Scenic Hudson
Speaks about the cumulative impacts on the river and on land, siting for stations, etc.: PLAY (8:17).
Gary Smith, homeowner near proposed converter station site
Zoning ordinances and noise: PLAY (1:40)
Cecilia Tkaczyk, New York State Senator
Comments on future evidentiary hearings, the impact on the village economy and school, etc.: PLAY (7:07).
Chris Pfister, Village of Athens Mayor
The need for an alternative route: PLAY (12:48).
Jerry Bunting, Athens Citizens Development Committee
Traffic disruption, economic disruption, blasting bedrock, etc.: PLAY (9:14).
Environmental and health impacts, smart growth for Athens, etc.: PLAY (7:45)
Ralph Favicchio, Athens Citizens Development Committee
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Energy Highway: PLAY (13:39).
Jacqueline Goddeau, Athens Citizens Development Committee
Safety issues, West Point requests for local law waivers, etc.: PLAY (6:21).
Al Ramm, Athens Citizens Development Committee, retired industrial electrician
Dangers of HVDC and 345,000kv, changes in the original West Point plan: PLAY (2:42).
Sam Sebren, Athens Citizens Development Committee
Questions the value and economic viability of the West Point project overall: PLAY (6:59).
Andrea Smallwood, Athens Citizens Development Committee
Potential disruption and dangers to Athens water and sewer infrastructure, station location: PLAY (3:01).
Mark Levanway, Athens Citizens Development Committee
Conflicts with new gas line, safety concerns, etc.: PLAY (3:24).
Mary Jo Wynne, homeowner on route
Disruption to daily life, quality of life: PLAY (2:09).
Ron Puhalski, Athens Citizens Development Committee
Disruption to school access and fire, police, EMS response time; no traffic studies or economic impact studies have been done: PLAY (4:00).
Joseph Capuano, Athens resident
Spoke in opposition to the project: PLAY (1:32)
No mention of the Department of Health in Article VII process: PLAY (5:07).
Plea for the Commission to help the public: PLAY (5:30).
Concerns about West Point disregard for local laws: PLAY (3:43).
Negative impacts on the historic village, concern about more projects to follow: PLAY (6:20).
Health and economic impacts, property devaluation: PLAY (3:29).
Forest Cotten, Athens Citizens Development Committee
Questions necessity for project: PLAY (5:52).
Opposition to route: PLAY (5:51).
Project belongs in an industrial zone: PLAY (4:04).
Concerns about community exploitation: PLAY (5:54).
- Video footage of the Commission hearings held in Cortlandt on Apr. 30, can be found here. (Total playing time: 4:48:04.)
- “Foes’ concerns come through loud and clear,” by Melanie Lekocevic, The Daily Mail (Apr. 25) can be found here.
- “No customers for Authority’s power: Authority deal to buy energy for NYC has quickly produced more than $43 million in losses,’ by James M. Odato, Times Union (Apr. 5) can be found here.
- To access the full record go to www.dps.ny.gov and search for Case #13-T-0292.