New York City files formal objection to planned underground power station
William J. Kemble is reporting for the Daily Freeman the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has filed a formal objection with federal regulators to a plan to build an underground hydroelectric power station on land near the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County. The department oversees all of New York City's upstate reservoirs. The plan by Premium Energy Holdings of Walnut, Calif., has "several fatal flaws," the city department said in its April 8, filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It also said Premium should not be granted eminent-domain rights to the land near the Ashokan because it sits within New York state's Catskill Park. The land that Premium wants to use near the reservoir is "part of the Catskill Forest Preserve, for which sale, lease and development are prohibited under the New York Constitution,” according to the DEP's filing. Premium is looking to create a 2,800-megawatt power station 200 to 300 feet below ground on one of three sites — two near state Route 28, and one on the north side of the Ashokan's west basin. The station would be about 500 feet long, 125 feet wide and 150 feet high and generate 800 watts of power. The DEP also objects to the plan for a new, off-site reservoir to power the Premium operation. The department argues the new water body would siphon water from both the Ashokan Reservoir and Upper Esopus Creek, creating additional turbidity and making its levels subject to electricity demand. Kathy Nolan, senior research director for the environmental advocacy group Catskill Mountainkeeper, said Friday that she was encouraged by the city's filing. She said it should cause FERC to either reject the application or to send the applicant back to address in detail all the issues raised. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.