June 7, 2012

By Mary Kay Barton, Letter to the Editor, The Daily News Online

Thanks to the New York State Association of Counties going to bat on behalf of all New York citizens to the state Public Service Commission (PSC), the comment period for municipalities on Article 10 of the Power NY Act — regarding the siting of all energy facilities in New York State — has been extended to June 15.

All New York town boards should take this opportunity to comment on the proposed regulations on behalf of their respective municipalities. While the citizen comment period ended May 29, citizens can still get involved by encouraging their respective town boards to comment on the proposed Article 10 regulations.

What’s at stake is our long-held, Constitutional right to “home rule” — the right to decide for ourselves what we want our communities to look like 20, 40, and 60 years down the road.

Article 10, as currently written, has put the decision-making regarding the siting of all energy facilities in New York State into the hands of five (5) distant, unelected Albany bureaucrats. Neither we, nor our duly-elected local officials, will have a vote on these very important matters.

Make no mistake, Big Corporate has been lobbying the state hard to make changes to this law that best suits them and their bottom line, and completely removes our right to self-determination through Municipal Home Rule.

Comments submitted by industries who wish to exploit our resources whenever, wherever, and however they feel like, are alarming. Many industry-submitted comments argue that the PSC should allow: expedited processes, hiding real data, allowing eminent domain, and disregarding pertinent health, safety and sound studies meant to protect residents.

The first draft of the law did include C-weighting requirements for sound, which industries successfully petitioned the PSC to remove from the current draft. Professional sound engineer, Charles Ebbing’s, and the Abraham/James posted comments, discuss the importance of the C-weighting and requiring industries to abide by these requirements to protect citizens. (See all comments at: 12-F-0036)

This sad scenario — of private interests working to usurp public rights — is a serious issue that should concern all New York citizens!

Stand up — speak out! Encourage your town boards to file comments with the PSC before the June 15 deadline. Remember, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Towns who would like to comment before the June 15 deadline can send their comments via e-mail to: Hon. Jacylyn A. Brilling at secretary@dps.ny.gov.

Mary Kay Barton lives in Silver Lake

source

June 2, 2012
Cahill, Sweeney and Lavine comments to the PSC

May 29, 2012
Jaclyn A. Brilling, Secretary Public Service Commission
3 Empire State Plaza Albany, NY 12223-1350

Dear Secretary Brilling:

We are writing about the “Regulations Implementing PSL Article 10 Governing Applications to Construct Major Electric Generating Facilities” recently proposed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) (Stale Register 1.0. #PSC-15-12-00006-P). These rules add a new Subchapter A to 16 NYCRR Chapter X to implement the new streamlined permit process provided for in the “Power NY Act” (Chapter 388 of the Laws of 2011).

We previously commented (copy enclosed) (see letter#2) on a related rule proposal by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) entitled “Analysis of Environmental Justice Issues Associated with the Siting of Major Electric Generating Facilities” (State Register 1.0. #ENV-03-12-00010-P). We advised DEC that additional regulatory provisions were needed to ensure the process for siting major electric generating facilities fully effectuates the commitment we made in the Power NY Act for enhanced review of environmental justice (EJ) issues under the new Article X.

Severa! of the recommendations we made to DEC are equally appropriate for consideration for inclusion in the regulations of the Board on E!ectric Generation Siting & the Environment. The Board has incorporated numerous provisions in its proposed regulations to facilitate meaningful involvement by the public as a whole (e,g., intervenor funding, the public information coordinator), However, nothing in these regulations or proposed Part 487 provides for specific outreach or assistance to the affected members of EJ communities. It is well-recognized that members of these communities face additional barriers to active and informed participation that require affirmative efforts to overcome.

We recommend that the Board review DEC’s EJ policy (Commissioner’s Policy CP-29) and ensure that the Article X rules include appropriate provisions needed to ensure meaningful participation by members of impacted EJ communities. Among these are requirements for a targeted Dublic participation plan that actively seeks to identify and involve stakeholders in a potential EJ area, the conduct of periodic public information meetings at locations and times convenient to EJ community stakeholders. the establishment of document repositories in or near the EJ community, and periodic progress reports to ensure that the enhanced public participation plan is successfully implemented on an on-going basis. The Board should also ensure that when an application involves an EJ community, local parties within such community are included in any allocation of intervenor funds.

We hope these comments are helpful in developing the final version of these regulations. Please feel free to contact us if you require any further information on these comments.

Very truly yours,

Kevin A. Cahill, Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Energy
Robert K. Sweeney, Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation.
Charles D. Lavine, Assembly Chair, Administrative Regulations

Letter #2

Melvin Norris
NYSDEC Office of Environmental Justice 625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-1500

Dear Mr. Norris:
We are writing about a recent rule proposal by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) entitled “Analysis of Environmental Justice Issues Associated with the Siting of Major Electric Generating Facilities” (State Register I.D. #ENV-03-12-0001O-P). These rules add a new Part 487 to Title 6 NYCRR to implement the commitment made in the “Power NY Act” (Chapter 388 of the Laws of 2011) that a streamlined permit process for electric generating facilities would not diminish the review of environmental justice (El) issues, but would in fact provide for enhanced EJ reviews. While there may be other improvements that could be made to proposed Part 487, these comments focus on one significant omission in the proposal that we believe would render the analysis of EJ issues under Article X much less meaningful than those undertaken under the provisions of the State Environmental Quality Review Act and DEC’s own EJ policy.

The proposed rules establish standards for determining whether the impact study area includes one or more EJ communities. If so, the preliminary seoping statement must include a preliminary evaluation of any potentially significant and adverse disproportionate impacts, the proposed measures to avoid, offset or minimize these impacts, and describe any additional studies or program of studies the applicant proposes in support of its final EJ analysis. The proposed rules also set forth lhe process for completing all required studies and require the application to include a statement of environmental justice issues discussing why the remedial measures it proposes were chosen and how lhey can be verified.

An of the above requirements omit a key element of environmental justice: nowhere is there any affirmative requirement to ensure meaningful involvement of the EJ community in the process. While it is true that the statute contains several provisions to facilitate meaningful involvement by the public as a whole (intervenor funding, the public information coordinalOr), nothing in the statute or proposed Part 487 provides for specific outreach to the affected members of EJ communHies. As the Office of Environmental Justice well knows. one basic tenet of environmental justice is that government must work actively to overcome barriers that have all LOO often resulted in decision-making without the active and informed participation of minority and low-income communities.

Environmental justice 1S not something that is “done to” or even “done for” an EJ community, To be effective, it must be done with the community members. DEC’s own EJ policy. Commissioner’s Policy CP- 29, recognizes this by requiring an enhanced public participation plan that actively seeks to identify stakeholders in a potential EJ area; provides for information to be distributed to the EJ community that is written in an understandable manner, including in other languages where appropriate: calls for holding periodic public information meetings at locations and times convenient to EJ communi[y stakeholders; establishes document repositories in or near the EJ community; and requires progress reports to ensure that the enhanced public participation plan is successfully implemented on an on-going basis. With the exception of the provision for appropriate translation of documents (and a plain language requirement that only applies to the final EJ analysis), none of these very important components of the EJ process would be required to occur in an analysis under Part 483.

Requirements for meaningful public involvement and broad public participation are necessary and important, but such requirements extend to not only EJ community members, but also to other residents of the impact study area and of any alternate location, and to other residents of the affected municipalities. Outreach and engagement of EJ community stakeholders is necessary so that their voices are not subordinated to those of other affected communities with more resources, and also to ensure that the analyses and recommended mitigation measures are not developed in dry studies that are detached from their knowledge and insights on the needs of their community.

We urge DEC to include provisions in the rules for meaningful outreach to stakeholders in EJ communities potentially impacted by an Article X application, to maXimize their ability to participate meaningfully throughout the process. We also encourage you to consider incorporating some of the newer tools currently under review by the US Environmental Protection Agency, such as community-based participatory research, to maximize the benefits of EJ community involvement.
We hope these comments are helpful in developing the final version of these rules. Please feel free to contact us if you require any further information on these comments.
Very truly yours,

Kevin A. Cahill, Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Energy
Robert K. Sweeney, Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation.
Charles D. Lavine, Assembly Chair, Administrative Regulations

Source

Hon. Jaclyn A. Brilling 

Secretary, New York State Public Service Commission
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12223-1350

VIA First Class Mail and Email (Secretary@dps.ny.gov)

Comments to the New York Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment
Case 12-F-0036 – In the Matter of the Rules and Regulations of the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment contained in 16 NYCRR, Chapter X, Certification of Major Electric Generating Facilities

Dear Secretary Brilling:

Enclosed for filing are the comments of Coalition on Article X (“COAX”), regarding the draft regulations of Article 10 of the Public Service Law. In a thorough review by COAX members, all New York State taxpayers and ratepayers, we have collected and assembled comments of the draft regulations as they relate to siting of energy facilities.

COAX is a statewide grassroots coalition, which connects municipalities on a unified position to keep “Home Rule” strong, in force and as intended by the New York State Constitution since 1894. We have connected dozens of towns and counties throughout New York State to submit Resolutions that oppose the loss of any “Home Rule.”

Since the New York State Public Service Commission is employed by and for New York State taxpayers and ratepayers, we expect the regulations for Article 10 to both enforce and strengthen the PSC posted Mission Statement, “to ensure safe, secure, and reliable access to electric… services for New York State’s residential and business consumers, at just and reasonable rates.” We also stress that justice and reason is applied to the regulations of Article 10, especially in the following areas of the draft regulations: Local Laws and Ordinances, Noise and Vibration, Decommissioning, Socioeconomic/Property Value Guarantee and Public Comment Period.

We thank you for the opportunity to express our concerns and offer comments to protect and preserve Home Rule throughout New York State.

Sincerely,
Robert E. Aliasso, Jr. – Member COAX
raliasso@twcny.rr.com
+1 (315) 771-9753
8748 State Route 178
Henderson, NY 13650

">Attachment

May 22, 2012
James Hall, Power NY Act

The New York State Public Service Commission draft (link for comments) from the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment for the proposed regulations to the Power NY Act 2011 (source), known as Article X is deficient in its mandate. Since a SEQR review for electric generation projects that fall under the new regulations is no longer a requirement, New York State is effectively writing new regulations that abdicate the oversight role of the Department of Environmental Conservation. The motive to fast track permitting approval at the expense of environmental protection demonstrates a bias in favor of developer projects. Therefore, in order to establish an equitable balance in interests, it is prudent to include a comprehensive citizen participation process within the administrative structure of the DPS.

The initial draft of the Article X regulations cite the following needs.
To ensure that the public and interested parties are fully assisted and advised in participating in the Article 10 process, an office of public information coordinator has been created within Department of Public Service.
Public information (page 9) coordination shall include:

(a) To ensure throughout the Article 10 process that the Board is fully aware of the concerns of stakeholders and that the Board’s consideration of an application is not delayed, it is the Board’s policy to require applicants to actively seek public participation throughout the planning, pre-application, certification, compliance, and implementation process. It is also the Board’s policy to encourage stakeholders to participate at the earliest opportunity in the review of the applicant’s proposal so that their input can be considered.

(b) To ensure that the public and interested parties are fully assisted and advised in participating in the Article 10 process, an office of public information coordinator has been created within DPS. Public information coordination shall include:
(1) implementing measures that assure public participation in matters before the Board;
(2) responding to inquiries from the public for information on how to participate in matters before the Board;
(3) assisting the public in requesting records relating to matters before the Board;
(4) ensuring all interested persons are provided with a reasonable opportunity to participate at public meetings relating to matters before the Board;
(5) ensuring that all necessary or required documents are available for public access on the DPS website; and
(6) any other duties as may be prescribed by the Board, after consultation with DPS.

(c) Each Applicant shall conduct a Public Involvement Program that includes:
(1) consultation with the affected agencies and other stakeholders;
(2) pre-application activities to encourage stakeholders to participate at the earliest opportunity;
(3) activities designed to educate the public as to the specific proposal and the Article 10 review process, including the availability of funding for municipal and local parties;
(4) the establishment of a website to disseminate information to the public;
(5) notifications; and
(6) activities designed to encourage participation by stakeholders in the certification and compliance process.

(d) Applicants shall submit a proposed Public Involvement Program plan in writing to DPS for review as to its adequacy at least 150 days prior to the submittal of any preliminary scoping statement, except that for good cause.
In order to facilitate the objectives of the public information coordinator office, Senator Pat Gallivan submitted, S-6924-2011. The essential elements of the legislation would create a citizen advisory panel within the Public Service Commission. Highlights and functions follow.

Section 1. The public service law is amended by adding a new section 174 to read as follows:
S 174. CITIZEN ADVISORY PANEL.

1. A CITIZEN ADVISORY PANEL IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED.

2. A. THE PANEL SHALL CONSIST OF SIX PERMANENT AND THREE ROTATING MEMBERS APPOINTED BY THE CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SERVICE TO FOUR YEAR TERMS AS FOLLOWS: ONE PERMANENT MEMBER SHALL BE A RESIDENT OF LONG ISLAND; TWO PERMANENT MEMBERS SHALL BE RESIDENTS OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK; THREE PERMANENT MEMBERS SHALL BE RESIDENTS OF UPSTATE NEW YORK; ONE ROTATING MEMBER SHALL BE A RESIDENT OF LONG ISLAND; ONE ROTATING MEMBER SHALL BE A RESIDENT OF NEW YORK CITY; AND ONE ROTATING MEMBER SHALL BE A RESIDENT OF UPSTATE NEW YORK. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION:
E. IN ADDITION TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW, NO PERSON SHALL BE ELIGIBLE TO BE AN APPOINTEE TO THE PANEL WHO HOLDS ANOTHER STATE OR LOCAL OFFICE. NO MEMBER OF THE PANEL MAY RETAIN OR HOLD ANY OFFICIAL RELATION TO, OR ANY SECURITIES OF AN ELECTRIC UTILITY CORPORATION OPERATING IN THE STATE OR PROPOSED FOR OPERATION IN THE STATE, ANY AFFILIATE THEREOF OR ANY OTHER COMPANY, FIRM, PARTNERSHIP, CORPORATION, ASSOCIATION OR JOINT-STOCK ASSOCIATION THAT MAY APPEAR BEFORE THE PANEL, NOR SHALL EITHER OF THE APPOINTEES HAVE BEEN A DIRECTOR, OFFICER OR, WITHIN THE PREVIOUS TEN YEARS, AN EMPLOYEE THEREOF.

The Citizen Advisory Panel has the functions and SHALL CONSIST OF THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS:
A. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY;
B. PROJECT LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION;
C. INPUT FROM LOCAL OFFICIALS AND GENERAL PUBLIC;
D. ANALYSIS OF ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS;
E. ANALYSIS OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS;
F. AREAS OF CONCERN;
G. REVIEW OF ALTERNATIVES;
H. RECOMMENDATION TO THE BOARD; AND
I. ANY NECESSARY APPENDICES.

The purpose of incorporating a Citizen Advisory Panel within the PSC is to have access, in a timely manner to the entire database of relevant information on each project. A review of applications and stakeholder input from representatives of citizen organizations is in keeping with the Article X mandate. Recommendations by the panel have the value of experience and expertise that deserves consideration by the Article X Siting Board.

The Citizen Power Alliance is a coalition of concerned citizen organizations that have years of involvement within the electric permitting process. From the perspective of local community interest, the spirit of Home Rule will remain in practice with the support of the multi-agency Siting Board. Individual municipalities, hard pressed to engage as an intervener or challenge the new Article X application process, will benefit from a central resource function of the Citizen Advisory Panel.

As part of the stakeholder submission process, specific comments and recommendations, previously submitted, need to be included in the final regulations. Absent from the PSC draft regulations are specific minimum standards for protecting the public safety. Local communities with existing industrial wind regulations that fall below inadequate siting requirements must adopt practices that are more protective. New York State must ensure that jurisdictions without specific legislation fall under regulations that conform to manufacturer safety standards, excess noise limits, verifiable usable electric generation monitoring and fiduciary solvency of developers with guaranteed bonding for de-commissioning costs.

NYS needs to demonstrate environmental leadership and resist acting as an agent that facilitates developer interests.

source

Letter to the Editor, Watertown Daily Times
MONDAY, MAY 14, 2012

Article X of the Power NY Act draft regulations are up for public comment until May 29. Siting power plants of 25 megawatts or more of all types— nuclear, gas, coal, solar, wind, biofuel, etc. — is now in the hands of a board of five people, all Albany political appointees. The siting process takes one year. It includes transmission lines.

The regulations being drafted by the Public Service Commission need to be scrutinized by all who have worked to remove conflicts of interest and create updated comprehensive plans and zoning regulations to protect people, local and national economies, and the environment.

In general, the issues that have been fought over like setbacks for sound, occupied residences or property lines, low-level vibration, what is an economic study and what comprises decommissioning will be fought out again; but this time the decisions will be made by this new board, not our town boards. Local laws already can be overruled if deemed “unreasonably burdensome” to the developer. Now developers are pushing for all local laws to be pre-empted entirely.

These are some additional points I feel are unacceptable.
While the Art X regulations state they expect towns to defend their local laws, the intervenor fund cannot be used for litigation. Time periods for public response are inadequately short. Economic impact and property values are ignored. Bird and bat studies happen in less than one year. Decommissioning is only a vague description.
This new draft raises the possibility of eminent domain. Environmental justice is simply a “consideration.” Citizens cannot appeal when a certificate is granted, although developers can appeal if denied.

Given that the regulations say “the needs of or costs to ratepayers “ outweigh the local laws of the host community, the decision of the board becomes a political decision to proceed with a power plant or not. Making new local zoning laws may help us, but it is imperative that we all weigh in now and try to protect what we can.

Hester Chase
Cape Vincent
source

Watertown Daily Times Letter to the Editor
FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2012
Perry White’s column regarding efforts by Upstate New York Power Corporation to sell wind-generated power to Fort Drum was revealing.
He reveals the pitfalls of selling energy from an intermittent energy source to a local consumer, the abandonment of underwater transmission from Galloo Island and an antiquated electrical grid, thus exposing the increasingly tenuous nature of the wind industry as they face the loss of taxpayer subsidies.

The fact that an aging grid bottles a significant portion of the intermittent power that wind does generate, as well as the abysmal 25 to 30 percent of nameplate capacity generated at peak operation, shows where the real Achilles heel for the industry is. They can’t operate or compete with current electrical rates, and raise a profit for their shareholders, without subsidies.
Without the capacity for storage, wind-generated power is subject to the intermittent nature of the source. Backup power, from traditional sources, is required, adding costs for the ratepayer.

So without subsidies or an upgraded smart grid, most municipalities, and surely, New York State Energy Research Development Authority and state government should recognize that this industry is revealing itself for what it is — self-serving and sustainable only at the public’s expense, all the while posturing as green and renewable.

Unfortunately, this appears not to be the case. Local land- use regulation under home rule has been removed from the powers granted to municipalities under Article X Power NY legislation (involving power projects generating over 25 megawatts), passed by the Cuomo administration at the 11th hour of the last legislative session.

Assemblywoman Addie Russell, state Sen. Patricia Ritchie, and Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush voted against this anti-home rule legislation.

I urge you to familiarize yourself with the travesty this legislation proposes: support of a failing technology, and more importantly, a wholesale removal of the ability for municipalities to form their own siting criteria to protect the health, safety, welfare and property values of their constituents. So far, 12 counties, including St. Lawrence and Jefferson, as well as many towns have passed resolutions opposing this legislation.

Are you content to let the posse in Albany make conditions and decisions that your community will have to live with? Our region’s self-interests will never see the light of day, let alone get a fair, transparent hearing.

The Article X legislation and its particulars are up for public comment. A copy of the legislation can be found at the Public Service Commission’s website: http://www.dps.ny.gov under electric generating facilities. The deadline for public comments is May 29.

David Duff
Macomb

source

April 28, 2012
Click on “source” below to read the comments that were filed by Iberdrola Renewables with the NYS Public Service Commission regarding issues they have with the Article X Draft Regulations.
source

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