The New York Regional Interconnect has been withdrawn… withdrawn in the middle of cross-examination… like WOW!

This from a missive from Troy Bystrom, Project Manager for Communities Against Regional Interconnect (CARI) just a bit ago:


Today following a mid-day break in the Article VII certification proceeding, NYRI announced it will withdraw its application from consideration by the Public Service Commission.  Counsel for NYRI explained that in the wake of a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this week, NYRI’s investors decided to end their pursuit of an Article VII Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need. Earlier this week, FERC denied NYRI’s request for rehearing in a proceeding relating to the recovery of transmission system upgrade costs.

The announcement that NYRI is withdrawing its application occurred in the midst of cross examination of NYRI Witnesses and immediately following CARI’s cross examination on demand side management and economics.

The presiding officers asked NYRI to confirm in writing their withdrawal no later than Monday, April 6, 2009.  The Judges also made clear that if NYRI were to seek approval for a similar project in the future, NYRI would be required to once again start at the beginning of the Article VII process.

Communities Against Regional Interconnect, on behalf of the counties of Sullivan, Orange, Delaware, Broome, Chenango, Madison, Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego and the Upper Delaware Council, Stop NYRI, Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition, Say No to NYRI and the Upstate New York Citizens’ Alliance, would like to thank all of those who participated in opposing this ill-conceived Power Line Project in our region.

Thank you to everyone who sent donations, wrote letters, provided testimony, attended public meetings, County planning departments, communities, legal experts, the Attorney General’s Office, DEC, Department of Public Service, consultants, media, organizations, activists, local, state and federal elected officials who all participated in this unprecedented regional effort.

Together, we made a difference. However, the work is not over! We must secure intervener funding to protect the public interest if similar projects are proposed in the future and make sure the 4th District Court’s decision regarding FERC’s authority is not overturned!

And from Scott Olson, of Susquahanna-Roseland “Route B” fame, here’s a collection of today’s news flashes about it:

* APRIL 3, 2009, 4:21 P.M. ET

NY Regional Interconnect Suspends 190-Mile Transmission Project

-By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9285; ian.talley@dowjones.com

New York Regional Interconnect, or NYRI, said Friday that it is suspending its participation in a 190-mile transmission project because it was denied a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing request for 13.5% return on equity, the firm said in a press release.

The company said in a statement that FERC’s decision earlier this week to deny a rehearing on the request “would pose an uncertain financial risk for this or any other private investment in infrastructure in New York State.”

The company said FERC’s decision was made at the urging of the New York Independent System Operator, or NYISO, which NYRI said protested the transmission project. NYRI said several of its potential competitors sit on the independent system operators board of directors.

“FERC’s March 31 ruling essentially admits that the process may be biased, but it chose not to intervene,” the company said in a statement.

Officials from FERC and NYISO weren’t immediately able to comment.

… and on the scene, from the Pike County Courier:

NYRI calls it quits — the flying horse is dead

Power line application withdrawal hailed by river council

NARROWSBURG, N.Y. — The Upper Delaware Council (UDC) is hailing the Apr. 3 decision by New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. (NYRI) to withdraw its application to construct a high-voltage, direct-current transmission line on a 190-mile path through eight New York State counties between Marcy and Rock Tavern, N.Y.

The decision would end a controversy that has been argued since Canadian developers aired the proposal in 2003. Then called Pegasus, after the mythical winged horse, it originally planned a construction corridor through the federally protected Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. The route then would have run along railway right-of-way in Lackawaxen, Shohola and Westfall townships.

The proposal drew immediate opposition locally, which grew as the proposal made its way through planning and approval processes. In press interviews at the time, project sponsors scoffed at idea of local opposition derailing the project.

NYRI counsel verbally withdrew their Article VII application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need mid-day through the 15th day of evidentiary hearings before the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) in Albany.

The UDC participated actively with the Communities Against Regional Interconnect (CARI) coalition of county governments and non-profit organizations since its inception, utilized the resources of a $50,000 state grant secured by Senator John J. Bonacic in 2006 to study and review the impacts of NYRI on the river valley, and vigilantly monitored all NYRI proceedings on a daily basis.

“This has been a long and exhausting fight since NYRI filed its original (formal) application on May 31, 2006, but the UDC has been steadfast in its position that this proposed power line did not belong in the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River corridor,” said UDC Executive Director William E. Douglass.

The surprising withdrawal action followed a March 31 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling that denied NYRI’s request for a re-hearing on the question of cost allocation voting procedures by the New York Independent System Operator.

NYRI Attorney Len Singer advised PSC Administrative Law Judges Jeffrey Stockholm and Michelle Phillips on Friday that the private company’s investors felt that the order jeopardized NYRI’s ability to recover the costs of transmissions upgrades, thereby creating too great of a financial risk.

NYRI was instructed to submit a letter of Article VII withdrawal notification by Monday, April 6, to the PSC Secretary, with copies to all of the Interested Parties in this case. NYRI must also make clear in that correspondence whether they intend to re-apply to the PSC or seek certification from FERC for this project at a future date.

If no objections are raised to NYRI’s decision by Monday, April 13, the case will be officially closed.

The NYRI application proposed to site mostly 10-story-tall overhead transmission towers between converter stations in Oneida and Orange Counties on a nominated route that largely paralleled the Millennium Gas Pipeline in this region from Deposit to Cuddebackville. That represented the second generation of a proposal made in October 2003 by NYRI predecessor, the Canadian firm Pegasus Power Systems, Inc., to transport upstate electricity to metropolitan markets downstate. Pegasus proposed to use the railroad rights-of-way alongside the Upper Delaware River for its route.

The River Management Plan for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River (1986) states that new, major electric lines are an “incompatible use” and present a “clear and direct threat” to the river corridor.

In addition to believing that NYRI would have violated the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the council was concerned about the company’s potential use of eminent domain to acquire private property for this line, its impacts on the local environment, loss of property values, and detrimental effects on tourism.

Working in partnership with the National Park Service since 1988, the UDC is the non-profit organization responsible for coordinated implementation of the River Management Plan. For more information, call 845-252-3022, or visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org.

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