Representatives with NextEra Energy Transmission presented their proposal for new power lines through New York state to Herkimer County legislators and residents Thursday afternoon, with some lawmakers taking the opportunity to speak out against the project.
Monique Brechter, NextEra executive director for development, said during the informational meeting that the reason for the proposal is to replace aging power lines, relieve congestion and improve reliability of the current lines.
“There’s more demands on the system. There’s a need for new power lines,” she said.
NextEra Energy Transmission has proposed two projects with different voltage that would go east to New Scotland, then south to Leeds and Pleasant Valley, running along the existing right-of-way through Deerfield and Marcy and then on to Schuyler, Frankfort, German Flats, Little Falls, Danube and Stark.
Brechter said NextEra is proposing to use the existing right-of-way for the new line either in that corridor or directly adjacent, within 100 feet, to minimize environmental and community impact. She said the exception would be seven miles of new line that would be built to avoid building in a state forest.
There are alternatives that NextEra is considering, said Brechter, but said they aren’t “cost efficient … we’re still looking at it.”
Brechter said the “preferred route” is going alongside the existing route.
The state Department of Public Service will accept proposals from power line developers until Oct. 1. The proposals are part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway initiative, which is particularly geared toward relieving congestion in two corridors between upstate and southeast New York from the Marcy substation.
Brechter said NextEra’s estimates that if awarded the bid, they will be in-service by 2017 - 2018.
County Legislator Robert Schrader, R-Herkimer, said Herkimer County already sends out its water and power.
“We see nothing in return,” he said. “I don’t see anything coming back to us. I just don’t see how it’s going to benefit us.”
Schrader added, “We don’t need it here. New York City does. I think we should stand up and demand something from them.”
Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace said the county wouldn’t have a vote on whether new power lines are built. He also said it would be too early to comment on whether the county could pass a resolution to show support for one company’s proposal over another.
Brechter said, however, the Public Service Commission “is very interested in hearing what communities have to say.”
“They’re very valid concerns … I think it carries weight,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - “Our worry is we’re being used as a conduit,” said Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono during the meeting. “If it’s not your project, it’s another one. We’re getting hit on aesthetically and environmentally.”
Legislator Peter Manno, R-Frankfort, received a letter from the state Department of Public Service in June informing him of the possibility of developers reaching out to inform affected communities of their intentions as they look to relieve congestion along transmission lines that begin in Marcy and head downstate.
“We can’t keep giving them all these extension cords,” said Manno during the meeting. “They need to come up with their own plan. That’s my opinion.”
In August, the county Legislature passed a resolution in opposition to power line proposals under review by the Public Service Commission that cut through Herkimer County.
Tara Morgan, the NextEra Energy local contact, said the project is in the “very preliminary stages.” She said NextEra representatives have already met with over 50 municipalities throughout New York state about their proposal.
Wallace said NextEra is the second energy company to present their proposals to the Herkimer County Legislature. He said they have already heard a proposal from LS Power.