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PSC holds hearings on West Point Partners plan

Sep 16, 2014 7:23 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="218"] West Point Transmission
(Courtesy westpointproject.com)[/caption]

Hearings on the West Point Partners application were held before the state Public Service Commission last week in Albany. The project is intended to run from an AC to DC converter facility built in the Athens Flats, underground through the village of Athens and then buried 75 miles in the Hudson River to Cortlandt.

During the course of the four-day hearing, the project was examined by attorneys for more than ten affected parties, including the town and village of Athens and the Athens Citizens Development Committee. West Point was questioned about the environmental impacts the project will have on terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The state Department of Public Service pointed out that laying the cable in the Hudson River will churn up vast amounts of sediment immediately adjacent to the drinking water intake pipes for various municipalities, including Rhinebeck and Poughkeepsie. Questioning also revealed that the project, purportedly able to provide power during blackouts, is in fact not designed with "black start capability," a required feature to provide power during emergency blackouts. A noise expert requested West Point's plan for noise buffering in the town of Cortlandt and the company was unable to do so. During questioning by the Athens Citizens Development Committee, West Point vice president of planning Chris Hocker said the planned cable route through the village of Athens is no longer the preferred route. During the course of the hearing it became clear West Point made no effort to consult with state agencies responsible for reviewing and approving the application. In a letter to Commission Judge Kevin Cassuto, the New York Department of State said West Point has failed to provide the required data for the necessary review of coastal zone policies. West Point cannot obtain an Army Corps of Engineers review without a Department of State coastal zone review.

The proceedings will continue into the fall, and further hearings will be held in early 2015. Hearing documents and letters are available on the PSC site. Go to: http://www.dps.ny.gov/ and search for case number 13-T-0292. Transcripts of the full four-day hearing will be posted at that location in coming weeks.

Ed. note: Sam Sebren is a founding member of the Athens Citizens Development Committee.

-- Sam Sebren