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.