GHENT--Settlement talks will start next month in Albany aimed at finding a way for New York State Electric and Gas Company (NYSEG) to run new power lines through the Town of Ghent and some neighboring communities without disrupting local scenic, historic and agricultural.
Ghent town officials and a local group called Protect Ghent objected to the original proposal by NYSEG for a 115 kilovolt line that would run about 12 miles, most of it in Ghent, although the line would originate in Stockport and loop through Chatham. The company says in a notice published in The Columbia Paper that now "it may be possible to settle many or all of the issues in Public Service Commission Case 12-T-0248," a reference to the NYSEG proposal, which must receive approval from state regulators at the PSC.
NYSEG says it will consider a plan initially suggested by Ghent and developed by staff at the state Department of Public Service for power lines that operate at 34.5 kV. The lower power allows the company to use conventional utility poles that are already common along roadways and other cleared spaces, although NYSEG says that some accommodation for the new lines may have to be made.
This month the company plans a series of four local meetings in communities affected by the proposal where NYSEG representatives and officials and members of all the groups involved will answer questions about the latest proposals. The meetings are:
•Thursday, July 10, 2014, 4 to 8 p.m., NYSEG Chatham Service Center, 31 Dardess Drive, Chatham
•Thursday, July 17, 2014, 4 to 8 p.m., West Ghent Volunteer Fire Station, 74 Bender Boulevard, West Ghent
•Thursday, July 24, 2014, 4 to 8 p.m., NYSEG Chatham Service Center, Chatham
•Thursday, July 31, 2014, 4 to 8 p.m., West Ghent Volunteer Fire Station, West Ghent.
Koethi Zan, executive director of Protect Ghent, said this week that she is "cautiously optimistic" about the prospects for a settlement that addresses the concerns of her group. She said those interested in the proposals and where the lines would run can visit the group's Facebook page, where there are interactive maps and documents with more information about the project; www.protectghent.com.
Mark D. Greenberg, special counsel for the Town of Ghent in connection with the NYSEG proposal, officially called the Columbia County Transmission Project, responded to a question from The Columbia Paper, saying, “The town believes that an alternative that reinforces the existing 34.5kV system is workable and in the best interests of the residents of the Town of Ghent. We look forward to working with NYSEG to put in place a plan that will protect the Town’s resources and improve the provision of electricity to residents.”
The NYSEG contact is Melany Putman, NYSEG manager of Community Outreach and Development, 518 664-9534, extension 350 or
. Anyone wishing to participate in the settlement negotiations that begin August 14 should contact her no later than August 4, 2014.
Andrew C. Davis is the state Department of Public Service staff contact, 518 486-2853 or