May 28, 2012
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.
Robert E. Aliasso, Jr. – Member COAX
+1 (315) 771-9753
8748 State Route 178
Henderson, NY 13650
May 25, 2012
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.
May 15, 2012
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.
May 11, 2012
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.