News

NYRI is gone: Sponsor withdraws application

By
April 03, 2009 2:13 PM

New York Regional Interconnect is history.
The much-opposed 190 mile long power line that would have sliced through this region withdrew its application from the Public Service Commission Friday during the hearings that were to determine its fate.
The reason, according to NYRI and an Orange County man at the Albany hearings, was a ruling this week by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that NYRI could not recoup the $2 billion investment that would have been passed to consumers.
That March 31 decision “created an unacceptable financial risk for NYRI’s investors,” said NYRI in a statement. “Even if the NYRI project were to be sited by the PSC, NYRI would face the prospect of being unable to recover transmission costs from the ratepayers who would benefit from the project.”
Noel Arnold, who attended the hearings and whose Orange County home would have sat in the shadow of the 10 story tall line, said NYRI’s move “shocked” the room.
“Apparently, the investors told NYRI during lunch that they weren’t continuing,” said Arnold, who added that the judge then adjourned the hearings until Monday when NYRI’s lawyer will notify the PSC in writing.
Arnold is one of scores of NYRI opponents who fought the project from the shores of the Delaware River in Sullivan County through the Village of Otisville and on to the Town of Windsor in Orange. Many literally screamed with joy when they heard the news.
“This is like David beating Goliath,” said Otisville’s Gail Heatherly of SayNo2NYRI, one of several grass roots groups from Utica to New Windsor that have battled NYRI with rallies, petitions and in court over the past few years. “This proves that it was all nonsense when they said they were doing it for the state. Once they couldn’t make money, they went away.”
Local, state and federal politicians, who were unanimously against the line that would have cut through farm fields, hillsides and villages, cheered the latest, and apparently final, bit of bad news for NYRI, which recently learned it could not bypass the state to win federal approval.
“One word: victory,” said State Senator John Bonacic, who sponsored legislation that prohibited NYRI from using eminent domain.
“It was never about power, it was about money,” said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
“Ding Dong the witch is dead,” said US Senator Chuck Schumer.
But Friday, the people along the route who feared they would lose their land and homes cheered the loudest.
“Now I feel all the work was worth it,” said Elaine Allen, a retired resident of Hamptonburgh, whose home would have been dwarfed by the lines. “Going to Albany, hosting meetings, standing in the hot sun getting petitions, it was all worth it.”
Allen just had one more anti NYRI task Friday.
“I’m going to get on the phone and tell everyone the good news.”
sisrael@th-record.com