On Dec. 20 the Batavia Daily News published a reader’s submission (“A loss of self-government,” Another Point of View) where the writer aired concerns about Power NY legislation and Title X siting regulations. I thank the reader for offering her views on this important subject and would like to take the opportunity to offer my own.
The new Article X creates a new regional siting process, one that brings together businesses, state regulators, and local officials. It has two main objectives: first, to promote energy independence and clean energy use throughout New York State, and second, to bring both statewide and local priorities into consideration when deciding to build a power-generating facility.
Energy issues by definition are regional issues. A power plant in any village or town affects its neighbors. Whether it is visual, noise or air pollution, increased traffic on roads during and after construction, or the use of local water sources for cooling, no locality is an island when it comes to energy production or consumption. Under the new Article X framework enacted this past June, avenues are provided for all localities to have their concerns addressed.
In addition to the two members of the siting board selected to represent local municipalities, each proposed project is required to pass a number of stringent tests in order to be approved. Under the new law; local governments are granted full jurisdiction over all proposed projects that produce less than 25 megawatts of power; the siting board must take into account local ordinances and resolutions; affected municipalities are afforded the right to appeal, that appeal is required to be heard and should it be denied, the municipality may seek a judicial review; and each application will have to demonstrate that the proposed site is the best choice among available alternatives and that steps have been taken to avoid environmental damage to the surrounding area.
Further, the developer of any proposed energy production site is required to pay intervener funds to the municipality. These funds may be spent to hire field experts, conduct studies and analyses, and to obtain legal advice associated with energy siting. This provision is very important, and will ensure that the municipality and local interests have the resources to make their case before the siting board.
The full approval process is expected to take at least one year before ground can be broken on any new projects, giving all parties involved time to identify potential problems or concerns. As referenced in the Dec. 20 submission, concerned citizens have the opportunity to register and submit comments, concerns, and opinions into public record through the Public Service Commission’s website. I too fully encourage anyone who wishes, to take advantage of this opportunity to be heard.
For years, to its detriment, New York State ignored the reality that the production, the transportation, and the consumption of energy is a statewide issue with implications for all of New York State’s 19 million citizens. Through Power NY, New York now has a clear, comprehensive, and inclusive energy strategy for the future.
I thank you for your time and attention, and sincerely hope this holiday season has been healthy and happy for you and your family. If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding this, or any other matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime, (716) 656-8544 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.