Monday, May 23, 2011

Video Archive of PCS Hearing on 10-E-0155

Although the PSC Press Release release (posted below last week) provides only a schematic overview of the 8 recommendations provided by DPS staff to the PSC and thence unanimously adopted, the Q&A discussion which occurred during the hearing is quite illuminating.

Here is the link to the webcast archive:

http://nydps.onlinevideoservice.com/Archive/Event_051911.aspx

The pertinent section to view is between 79:00 and 101:00 minutes on the video.

What is most interesting is the language (the discourse) being used by both the DPS staff and the Commissioners in terms of the feedback from residents and communities along the ROWs.  Although a few areas of the presentation do not clearly discuss the various nuances and still provide much of the "older" narrative (such as the implied requirements of FERC/NERC FAC-003-1), the general staff and Commission tone is very supportive of the public concern.

In the staff's Powerpoint on the proposed guidelines, a summary of issues that came up during public hearings is presented - this section is a nice bullet-list of public concerns as documented by LORAX and other commentators. Then, the actual proposed guidelines are summarized.

In both discussions, the concerns of homeowners, municipalities and environmentalists are taken as valid and important, along with the over-arching need for a "mid-course" revision of the 2005 guidelines to provide a better environmental balance, the need for clearer directions to the utilities (concerning notification and thoughtful more limited vegetation removal in lieu of clear-cutting), and the underlying need for better contractor training and supervision.

All of this is a good change in tone coming from both the DPS staff and the Commission itself.

Now let's see how the actual order is written - what details are included at what level of specificity. Unfortunately, there was no discussion of possible public review of said guidelines and of updated TVMPs.

But overall, from the discussion documented in the Commission webcast, we should all celebrate the impact we have had on this issue! Thanks to LORAX members, municipal officials, local residents, RiverKeeper, Sierra Club and others in our combined efforts to make a change.

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