Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Clear Cutting Transmission ROW Again - this time its O&R in Orange County!

A resident of Chester, NY reported:

In the last week I have seen my property go from a picturesque country scene to the aftermath of a bombing courtesy of Orange and Rockland utilities. They are clear cutting Rights of Way on privately owned easments with no regard for the property owners or the environment. Fortunately they met with stiff resistance slowing them down only for the time being. They literaly cut a swath 135' by 600' right across the front of my property destroying mature, oak, maple, and walnut trees. The aftermath is nothing short of a war zone. I have been speaking to state politicians as well as newspapers but my fear is without more public awareness this will be fruitless. Any assistance or attention you could bring to this would be greatly appreciated. Most people being affected are not even aware of the extent until it is too late. I would be more then happy to speak to someone in your organization to fill them in on the details as well as pictures of what has transpired.

Thank you,
                   John DeRosso
                   Chester, N.Y.

This email was forwarded to the LORAX working group, whose members responded with advice and additional information. For example, one email provides the following advice:

it is critical to check your legal documents (utility ROW easement agreement) to ensure that O&R followed everything to the letter. The fact that they did not provide adequate notification, nor did they explain clearly the extent of the VM action and receive your "ok" indicates strongly that their TVMP (approved by PSC) procedures were violated. The other point I made in previous email concerns trying to get DEC involved (based upon photos) concerning what appears to be violations of stormwater and erosion control regulations.

And other email, this advice:

By the way, if you can start to generate public outcry and get in the face of your local town board, you can have them pass a version of the resolution (which I forwarded to you earlier). By getting folks in your community organized and in the face of the town council (town board), the local politicians begin to sweat enough to take action. Of course, lots of press coverage, letters to editor, even public demonstrations can help to get the right amount of attention.

Early Tuesday morning, Sept 7 at 7:30am, there was an on-site meeting with representatives of O&R, local residents and local politicians. From a LORAX participant's report:

The meeting went very well from everyone’s perspective… except, of course, O&R.  People were really angry about this.  Senator Larkin and Assemblywoman Calhoun were there, as were local officials.  Some of the stuff they did was ridiculous and it was an absolute repeat of “Blauvelt 2008” in every way.

O&R admitting failing to give proper notification, but they argued that they didn’t need to follow the modified guidelines because this residential subdivision with about 30-50 homes with hundreds of residents, underground utilities, curbing, cul-de-sacs, etc., was actually not a “residential area” by O&R’s unwritten definition of a “residential area” and therefore not subject to O&R’s Transmission Vegetation Management Plan approved by the PSC in 2008, which allowed tree trimming in areas outside the wire zone for transmission lines of under 200kV.  In this particular case, the transmission line that O&R claimed required complete tree removal as far as 85’ away was only 69kV.


Please take a look at the results of tree removal operations in Chester, NY:  
According to the homeowner, the transmission line adjoining his home is a 69kV.  He also indicated:   “Not one tree was directly under the wires. The closest tree was around 30' away. They used the 85' on one side to get the majority of the trees. I think at best maybe one tree could hit a wire if it completely fell over.”

Finally, here is a pdf of a letter sent by Marvin Baum, utility analysis for the LORAX working group, to the Secretary of the PSC concerning this matter. 

We are all waiting to see what, if anything, the PSC will do in response to this continued egregious tree demolition by O&R (a subsidiary of Con Edison). Both utilities have proven to be recidivist in their TVMP behaviors, regardless of the degree and volume of public outcry. As County Legislator Tom Abinanti said at the recent Greenburgh PSC meeting concerning Case 10-E-0155, "Either the PSC has to take action to correct these problems, or the State Legislature will take action [to compel the PSC to act as a responsible public oversight agency]."


-mg- said...

Please vote for Tom Abinanti in the upcoming Democratic Primary (Sept 14) and then in November general elections - for State Assemblyman.

We need to ensure that he gets to the Assembly (Albany) so he can get underway on the changes to PSC law that we so desperately need!

-mg- said...

Article from Wednesday's Chronicle News: