OBSERVER Staff and wire report
ALBANY - Upstate legislators are opposing a plan to build an electricity transmission line from Canada to New York City, claiming the proposal to import lower cost hydroelectric power would cost New York jobs, including possibly closing the NRG power plant in Dunkirk.
The 13 Republicans and one Democrat say the 330-mile power line from Quebec would make New York more reliant on other countries for energy at the expense of its own power industry.
"Our state's resources should be used to create jobs in New York, rather than export them to a foreign country," the senators led by Sen. George Maziarz of hydropower-rich Niagara County wrote.
The letter to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a rare critique from within the Senate's Republican majority, which has been Cuomo's critical ally in fiscal issues. The letter also notes that Cuomo "helped us to push through" a cap in property tax growth, a victory Cuomo has counted among his top accomplishments.
The Champlain-Hudson Power Express proposal now before the state Public Service Commission is expected to be acted upon within weeks.
The $2 billion proposal by Transmission Developers Inc. promises to reduce power plant air pollution in New York City while easing energy costs in the city and making the state less bound to the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County.
Meanwhile the operators of the state's electric grid are warning that closing the two Indian Point nuclear power reactors in Westchester County could result in blackouts.
The New York Independent System Operator, or NYISO, says in a draft report that closing Indian Point would leave New York's electric grid "degraded" on summer days and other times when the system is under stress.
The report, which will be released this fall, is intended to advise the power industry about New York's energy needs.
Indian Point's owner, Entergy Nuclear, has applied for new 20-year licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for both reactors.
Cuomo opposes the new licenses on the ground that it's unsafe to have a nuclear plant in such a densely populated area. More than 17 million people live within 50 miles of Indian Point.
Environmental groups say that, additionally, the plants damage the Hudson River ecology by killing fish and warming the water. The state has withheld a necessary water use permit that Indian Point will need to keep running. Entergy is appealing.
Entergy spokesman Jim Steets said Monday that the NYISO report reaffirms the company's position that Indian Point is necessary for New York.
The state's Public Service Commission is considering the electricity transmission line from Canada to New York Cityline that would run under the Hudson River and underground to bring some of the least expensive energy to New York City, where the need for power is increasing and the cost is among the highest in the nation.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union 97 has long opposed the Champlain-Hudson Power Express proposal, saying that Upstate New York plants like NRG in Dunkirk, should be utilized instead.
The Independent Power Producers of New York trade group favors updating New York City power stations.