On August 13, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released an order creating a new electrical “capacity zone” that merges the Hudson Valley region with New York City. The capacity zone, which is to take effect May 1, 2014, will raise rates as part of a scheme to attract investment in new power generation and repowering of existing plants, with the goal of producing more power for downstate users. According to Central Hudson-Fortis, the new capacity zone is unnecessary and will lead to price hikes of 8% (residential) and 15% (commercial). The increases will not be prevented by the terms of the Central Hudson-Fortis merger, in which—partly as a result of the strong public opposition to the takeover—Central Hudson-Fortis committed to freezing rates for two years. The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) also opposed the new capacity zone.
At the same time, the PSC is reviewing plans for extensive transmission upgrades, in line with Governor Cuomo’s 2013 New York Energy Highway Blueprint. The upgrades are designed to address the same capacity issue by increasing the reliability and voltage of the transmission lines that bring electric power from upstate sources to downstate customers, thus relieving the congestion in our region that currently prevents power from reaching New York City. Four competing proposals have been put on the table to upgrade transmission from Marcy to Pleasant Valley, including three in Dutchess and one that would go through Ulster County. The Dutchess County proposals involve large increases in tower height and right of way and have aroused intense public opposition there.
CLP and the Towns of Marbletown, Rochester and Rosendale will hold an informational forum on these two separate but related issues, “New Power Grid Issues in the Hudson Valley: How the New Capacity Zone and Proposed Transmission Upgrades Impact Our Communities.” The event will take place at the Marbletown Community Center, 3564 Main Street (Rte. 209), in Stone Ridge, on Wednesday, January 29, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Panelists will include representatives of the Public Service Commission (PSC), the NY Independent Systems Operator (NYISO), Central-Hudson-Fortis, Boundless Energy, and the Town of Milan, one of the Dutchess County communities fighting upgrade proposals in their communities. The PSC and Central Hudson-Fortis oppose the new capacity zone; Central Hudson-Fortis is part of the utility group Transco, which seeks PSC approval for its proposal to upgrade transmission lines in Dutchess County; Boundless Energy is an independent company based in Connecticut that proposes to achieve the same result with a less invasive upgrade that would use existing transmission towers through towns including Catskill, Hurley, Newburgh, New Paltz, Plattekill, Rosendale, Saugerties, and Ulster.
Rochester Town Supervisor Carl Chipman will moderate the Forum, and Jen Metzger of Citizens for Local Power will provide an overview of the issues in the context of local communities’ desire to increase local control over the direction of our energy future.