A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT: Pearl River woman comes out guns a’ blazing against Champlain Power Express

To the Editor,

The Champlain Hudson Power Express (abbreviated CHPE, pronounced “chippy”), is a 333-mile, 1000-Megawatt transmission facility to be built by Transmission Development Inc. (TDI). This proposed transmission facility would bring 1000 megawatts of electricity generated from Canadian mega-dams to Queens, NY, where it would power about 1 million homes. The project is touted as providing “clean energy” that would help to replace energy lost when Indian Point closes, but in fact the energy provided is not “clean”, and the transmission facility will not be online when Indian Point shuts down in 2021.

The Canadian hydropower transmitted by CHPE is not clean. This hydropower would not originate from free-flowing streams but from artificial impoundments (i.e., dams) which would be constructed by Hydro-Quebec after large areas of forest were clear-cut and flooded. After the land is flooded, methane would be released from rotting submerged vegetation. Both the loss of forests and the methane emissions exacerbate climate change. Furthermore, the flooded lands would release significant methylmercury, which is a neurotoxin and which moves into the water and animals, magnifying as it moves up the food chain. This makes the toxin especially dangerous for indigenous communities living near hydroelectric projects.

Electricity transmitted by CHPE is not needed to replace Indian Point. Since 2013 there have been a number of reliability studies and statements confirming that reliable replacement power for Indian Point is already in place. Most notably, in November 2013, the Indian Point generation contingency proceeding (PSC Case No. 12-E-0503) determined that no new generation would be needed should IP permanently close. And in December 2017, the NYISO IP Grid Reliability study determined that no new/additional generation is needed should IP close immediately. Further, according to TDI spokesperson Jen Laird White, construction would not be completed until 2022, one year after Indian Point is closed.

Other important things to know about this project:

The number of New York jobs that would be created is not clear. The Champlain Hudson Power Express website makes statements about “more than 1,500 direct full-time jobs”, “1,100 secondary jobs during construction”, “800 additional long-term jobs”. But the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Vol. 1) approved in August 2014 says “Approximately 26 direct, full-time employees would be hired to operate the proposed CHPE Project…”.

Route changes in North Rockland would disrupt travel and affect businesses along the 9W corridor. The transmission line is planned to proceed from Canada through Lake Champlain and the Hudson River but it would come ashore in North Rockland in order to bypass the environmentally sensitive Haverstraw Bay. The original route through these communities met with substantial opposition, so the line is now planned to be buried in the Route 9W right-of-way. Businesses and residents will be affected due to excessive noise, dirt, and difficulty of access. Some businesses might move out and not return. In addition, the new route would go through the Tilcon site in Tomkins Cove near a 285 ft. coal ash pile, a potential source of serious pollution. In January 2018 officials in the towns of Stony Point, Clarkstown and Haverstraw and the villages of Haverstraw and West Haverstraw signaled a change of heart about the project by signing Memoranda of Understanding with TDI. Under these agreements the municipalities would receive millions of dollars to make infrastructure upgrades and for improvements and repairs following construction along Route 9W. It is not clear whether residents and business owners who would be affected by the 9W construction support the new route. It is also not known if any cost-benefit analysis has been made public.

CHPE is a direct link connecting dammed rivers in Canada to New York City, with no access along the route for NYS generated energy. Upstate New York generates substantial renewable energy already, but would not be able to use CHPE to transmit this energy to other parts of the state.

This project would undercut the implementation of better options for meeting the state’s energy needs. Gov. Cuomo has already announced aggressive plans for solar and offshore wind farms. Other options include transmission upgrades and increased energy efficiency measures, such as those in place in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Importing Canadian hydropower would diminish the need and incentive to develop these better options.

So what can we do?
Make your opposition known. Spread the word – talk to your friends and neighbors. The project has already been approved by the New York Public Service Commission and has obtained the necessary permits from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, but comments can be submitted to the PSC regarding the permit modifications that are required for the altered route through North Rockland. Write/call Gov. Cuomo and ask him to stop this project. Contact your representatives in the state legislature and the Rockland County legislature. Contact officials in the North Rockland communities to express your opposition.

Sincerely,

Laura Burkhardt
Pearl River