Power to the people

New York Regional Interconnect announced Friday its intent to cease participation in the state power line siting process. In a press release Friday, NYRI officials said that while NYRI " remains committed to transmission development in New York State, it is suspending its current participation in the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) Article VII process for its 1200MW HVDC project."

The move came in response to the March 31 decision of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, denying NYRI's request for review of the recently approved rules of the New York State Independent System Operator for transmission tariffs.

That denial has created an unacceptable financial risk for NYRI's investors, the release read. 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.

The proposed transmission line would run from Utica to Orange County, dissecting a portion of southeastern Madison County. The approximately 200-mile construction was expected to cost about $2 billion, a share of the cost of which was proposed to fall on local taxpayers.

Those transmission costs could mean hikes of up to 10 percent in utility expenses for local ratepayers, according to Hamilton Supervisor Walt Jaquay in an interview late last year.

"This is a real positive decision that will hopefully put the issue to rest," said Supervisor John Salka of Brookfield. "North Brookfield is thrilled. We're optimistic that the judge's ruling is going to hold."

If the project were approved, Salka said, it could mean a going-out-of-business sale for a couple of Brookfield's businesses. He said the potential for the project to harm business loomed large over the vastly agricultural town, which also is host to a large swath of state-owned property, factors that impact the town's property tax base.

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