Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Bullet We Dodged

A reader reports that according to James Denn, of the New York State Public Service Commission, none of the proposed power line projects will pass through Hudson, but less than two weeks ago, that wasn't the case. 

On November 18, Boundless Energy revised its application to keep the entire route on the other side of the river. Prior to that revision, however, the plan was to bring the power line from Schodack to a new transition station to be built near the existing substation on Fairview Avenue in Greenport and to construct an underground line that followed the route of the ADM spur through Hudson and down to the river. This map, provided by the same reader who reported the news from Denn, shows the route through Hudson that was proposed in October 2013. 

As disturbing as the route is this assessment of Hudson, from the project's Cultural Resources Overview.
Historic Resources/Visual Sensitivity. A small portion of this area is located in the vicinity of the City of Hudson. The likelihood of impacts to historic resources is low since there appears to be few buildings within 0.5-miles of the transmission line placement. There are no NRL [National Register of Historic Places Listed] properties within or adjacent to the proposed route.
"Few buildings within 0.5-miles of the transmission line placement"? The route as it was originally proposed would have passed within a few feet of Hudson Upper Depot, cut through the Public Square, gone within a few yards of the buildings on either side of South Seven Street, bordered the grounds of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, and run within a half mile--it would seem, given that Hudson is only about a mile wide--from the houses at the end of Willard Place and all the houses on the south side of Allen Street. All these properties are part of the National Register-listed Hudson Historic District; in addition, the Dr. Oliver Bronson House is a National Historic Landmark. It's hard to see how these consultants arrived at their conclusion.

Fortunately, this isn't going to happen. Hudson dodged this bullet without even knowing it was in anyone's sights. That last part is troubling. Did anyone in City government know what Boundless Energy had in mind back in October? If the proposal had not been changed, how long would it have been before the people of Hudson got wind of what was being planned?


  1. I think we're safe in assuming that no one in Hudson government knew about this.

    Only learning of the original proposal now, how would there've been enough time for the Common Council to meet and then draft any kind of comment to the Public Service Commission before the comment period ends in mid-December?

    There's a remedy for Hudson's perpetual ignorance that's already in the works, but for the Common Council to appoint a Conservation Advisory Council, Hudson residents may have to fight for it. But why should that be?

    After unwittingly dodging this bullet, the rationale for a CAC should be self-evident. Since a CAC doesn't require a budget, it would be obtuse for politicians and residents not to prefer to be notified about such things.

  2. With the title of this post, Carole is referencing the title of my Our Town article about the cement plant fight:


  3. I was instructed by the Public Service Commission that transmission lines above 125 kV are exempt from the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA, §617.5(c)(11)). True! You can find that under Article 7 of the
    Public Service Law, adopted by the state in 1970.

    The PSC official assured me that the commission has its own "highly detailed SEQR-like process," but if the proposal's historic resources report is any indication, how many other potentially negative impacts did the company skip over or fudge in justifying the 100 mile route?

    The now-abandoned proposal didn't only go down to the river, it then skirted the South Bay. One thing this would have meant was unleashing the land-locked creosote reservoir which continuously leaks into the West Creek.

    The owners of the Basilica should be giving thanks, along with another of our bass-playing luminaries.

  4. So Hudson dodged a bullet but whats happening to the other side of the river with this line ???

  5. Vincent, the line will be buried between the Hudson River and Leeds, after which "the existing line would be reconductored with minimal or no modifications to existing tower structures. This section will extend approximately 55 miles south through Ulster County and connect to a new switchyard near East Road in the Town of Marlborough, just north of the Orange County line in Ulster County" (Panamerican Consultants environmental assessment for Boundless Energy proposal, p. 1-1).

    Instead, it's Boundless Energy's proposal between Mt. Merino to Athens that grabs my attention. We might consider supporting a plan to run the lines BENEATH the Hudson River.

    Imagine the vista from the waterfront park with no power lines! Hudson would boast a nearly identical view of the Catskills which today we can only enjoy in late-19th century paintings. What a boon for us.

    If the complaint throughout the effected counties is to bury the lines, then shouldn't we actively support the burying of lines where it's already in the plan? In a way, this opportunity is being totally wasted on the likes of us. (Why are we so passive and useless?!)

    Alas, we have no "Conservation Advisory Council" to have alerted the Common Council beforehand, but if it's probably too late in the game for the council's letter of support, perhaps the mayor can be prevailed upon to recognize an unmistakable opportunity.

  6. Our friends in Athens, to date, have no indication that the line is to be run underground, rather through a populated area, much to their justifiable discontent. Past history with these companies has shown them to come and go. Let's hope they just go.


  7. All proposals near Athens take up the self-same footprint as Athens' extant transmissions lines (see: Boundless Energy and NextEra proposals).

    The greatest proposed change for Athens is that some lines would be buried. Your friends will either have to dig out that information for themselves or persist in their superstitions. I know that's rough to hear, but that's what's required wherever local officials themselves are struggling to interpret all of this information.

    But because Athenians are the kind of people who'd already adopted their LWRP when the City of Hudson was merely contemplating one, perhaps Athens will form a Conservation Advisory Council before Hudson figures out how to do the same.

    The purpose of a CAC is to combat ignorance about local resources, first and foremost among uninformed politicians.

    In the current example though, we've all behaved ignorantly. The revelations in the above Gossips post scooped everyone from City Hall to The Register Star.

    When the council finally holds its vote on a CAC for Hudson, there will be aldermen who'll wish to maintain the public's ignorance at the cost of remaining ignorant themselves. But there couldn't be a better example than the current one (pun intended) to illuminate (heh!) the need for an official information-gathering body of the kind a CAC would offer.

    Know that a CAC can be formed and appointed by a city council or town board under the statutory authority of Section 239-x of Article 12-F of the NYS General Municipal Law.

    Please contact your Hudson aldermen, and by using this example beg them to learn the value of a Conservation Advisory Council.

    Their official emails are found under their names at the City of Hudson website:

  8. The dream of Peter Jung and many of us is to see those power lines draped across the Hudson River to disappear out of sight.
    I have a 19th c painting, from a popular perspective at Olana, showing a magnificent river not hampered by those lines.
    Mankinds eyes always goes to the foreground denying the big picture.

  9. Well is there anyone who doesn't want our view to the Catskills restored?

    Unfortunately there's only enough time for the mayor to write an official letter now, since nobody else in city government thought it was important enough (and that's because residents didn't think it was important enough).

    For "Hudson DAR," navigating the documents page of the NYS Public Service Commission is a real nightmare (note the oxymoron).

    But on Monday (11/25), the NYS PSC announced that each of the company's websites are up and running after lots of problems. All company maps must be correct and updated, and I've discovered they're a whole lot easier to use than what NYS offers.

    The first three of these involve Athens. You'll have to read the proposals themselves for the details on the nature of the upgrades - such as which lines would be buried - but I'd sooner trust the NYS PSC website, and not the companies, for that kind of information.

    1. Boundless Energy:

    2. NextEra:

    3. North American Transmission

    4. Transco:

  10. CORRECTION: it's no longer Boundless Energy that would go beneath the river. That plan is now superseded.

    The only company now crossing the river is NextEra, which states that "in respect to the planned Hudson River crossing, NEETNY is evaluating both underground/submarine and aerial crossings."

    I'm done searching through each projects' supplements and updates. That's the job of a City of Hudson official, though as I've stated above we don't currently have anyone in that capacity.

    Tomorrow NextEra will get a phone call, asking whether the submarine crossing from Athens is still under evaluation.

    To call or email NextEra in Juno Beach, FL:

    (561) 694-3897

    Monique Brechter
    Executive Director, Development
    NextEra Energy Transmission, LLC