ALBANY – New York Regional Interconnect claims it won’t need to force people from their homes and businesses in order to build its power line, according to a petition it filed Monday with the state’s highest utility authority.
But NYRI still needs the use of eminent domain to take land at fair market value, otherwise its project, if approved, wouldn’t be economically feasible, company officials say.
“The real issue is not about condemning buildings, which wouldn’t be necessary, although the popular misconception is that homes would be condemned,” said NYRI spokesperson David Kalson Thursday. “The real issue is about putting lines over farm lands and such. NYRI doesn’t anticipate having to take down any houses or buildings.”
Citing a series of legal precedents, NYRI is petitioning the state Public Service Commission to clarify if a law aimed at blocking the company’s use of eminent domain does in fact do so, and whether or not it is constitutional.
NYRI’s other contention: The law negates the commission’s authority to review and permit its power line.
“Without the use of eminent domain, any certificate approved by the commission would result in a project that is not economically feasible,” the petition states, providing examples where commission officials in the past have ruled that eminent domain is a necessary component of its citing process.
If the PSC does not rule in NYRI’s favor, Kalson said the company may seek approval with the federal government since most of New York state is part of a new “National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor.”