Three state senators held a joint press conference to speak out against the Champlain Hudson Power Express, a project that would provide wind and hydro power to New York by cables running underground from Quebec to New York City.
The three spoke in Stony Point at the Rho Building, as there was a public hearing at the building as well after their press conference so the senators and members of the public could ask questions of a representative from Transmission Developers, Inc. (TDI), the company developing the plan. The senators at the press conference were David Carlucci (D-New City), Bill Larkin, a Republican senator in Orange County, and George Maziarz, a Republican senator in Niagara County. Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun also joined the three senators at the public hearing.
“This is a top priority in our senate, in our body, in terms of talking about how do we make sure that we have a reliable source of energy here in New York?” Carlucci said. “How do we make sure that we start to lower the cost of energy? We pay some of the highest utility rates in the nation right here, and it’s so important that we get the right answers.”
Maziarz is also the chair of the state senate’s energy committee.
“We cannot allow this line to go forward for several reasons,” Maziarz said.
Maziarz added that some of those reasons are:
- it will kill jobs all across New York state
- it will negatively affect property owners here
- it will cost, he thinks, far more than advertised
The 333-mile transmission line is expected to cost $2.2 billion, according to the TDI site. Maziarz said he and others think it could cost as much as $11 billion. He added that the Hudson Transmission Project constructed by the New York Power Authority, runs across the Hudson River and cost almost $1 billion.
“That line runs about three miles,” Maziarz said. There’s simply no way that a line that is  miles longer could cost only $1 billion more.”
Donald Jessome, president and CEO of TDI, was at the public hearing to defend the plan. He said the $11 billion figure is incorrect and the plan will cost $2.2 billion. He added the $11 billion might be factoring in the building of facilities, but the project itself should cost $2.2 billion.
Jessome said the project will create construction jobs per year for the estimated three-and-a-half years the project would be under construction. He said that with savings on energy costs could lead to an additional 1,200 jobs created per year during the construction.
Questions were asked by the officials about the jobs, specifically who they’ll go to, as the project spans two counties. Jessome said 90-plus percent of the jobs will go to American workers, and they’ll look for union workers and local work forces for the positions. He added that there will be a few positions to operate the facilities once the construction is done, but those jobs will be “minimal.”
Jessome added the project is expected to reduce power prices by $650 million a year, and the generate more than $20 million a year in tax revenue to the locations where the transmission lines through, which includes Rockland.
The panel also questioned Jessome about the affects the project will have on the surrounding areas. In Stony Point, the transmission line will come out of the water and go onto the shore. There are concerns that will hurt property owners in Stony Point, as well as the historic Waldron Revolutionary Cemetery in Stony Point.
“We treat private property rights with the upmost respect,” Jessome said.
The panel also asked if the company will use eminent domain for the project, as in the past there was confusion over whether or not the project would. Jessome said there isn’t a plan to use eminent domain and they will negotiate with private property owners instead.
Maziarz said he agrees with the New York Power Authority’s assessment that the project’s benefits are overestimated and costs are underestimated. He added that the Public Service Commission believes that the rates might lower in New York City but they will go up everywhere else.
“We want to help New York City, but we can’t destroy upstate New York,” Larkin said. “We can’t destroy the jobs.”
Jessome said he will meet with the public on Nov. 7 at the same location at 7 p.m. to speak with them more about the project.