07.21.14

SCHUMER URGES DEPT OF AGRICULTURE TO SWIFTLY REVIEW AND APPROVE PLAN TO BUILD NEW ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION LINES NEXT TO EXISTING POWER LINES, RATHER THAN ACROSS KRENZER FAMILY FARM OR THROUGH HOMEOWNERS PROPERTIES IN CHILI & HENRIETTA NEW PLAN IS SUPPORTED BY ALL PARTIES INVOLVED

After Rochester Gas & Electric Announced a Plan To Construct New Power Lines Across Krenzer Family Farm in Chili, Schumer Pushed RG&E To Look For Other Options That Did Not Force Fourth-Generation Family Farm to Give Up Business or Homeowners to Have Power Lines Cross Their Properties Following RG&E-Krenzer-Homeowner Negotiations, Only Reasonable Option To All Would Run Transmission Lines Across USDA Conservation Area, Next to Existing Power Lines Schumer Pushes Feds to Swiftly

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to swiftly review and approve a popularly supported plan, submitted by Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) just last week, that would build the new RG&E transmission lines next to existing New York Power Authority (NYPA) power lines, rather than across the fourthgeneration Krenzer Farm or through other Town of Chili and Town of Henrietta homeowners' properties. Schumer explained that protecting this family farm and boosting Rochester's electric capacity does not need to be mutually exclusive. Just last year, Schumer called on RG&E and its parent company, Iberdrola, to consider an alternative siting and alignment of new electrical infrastructure and transmission lines after it released a proposed plan that would cut across the Krenzer Family farm and force them out of business. Following Schumer's call, the New York State Public Service Commission (NYPSC) ordered RG&E to consider alternatives to placing power lines across the Krenzer's family farm land. One of the options presented included running these new transmission lines across other homeowners' properties in the Towns of Chili and Henrietta, to which many residents objected. However a third option, which would run the power lines adjacent to the existing NYPA lines across a USDA Conservation Area, is now widely supported by both town homeowners and the Krenzer family. To make this possible, RG&E has submitted an application to the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for an easement modification to run the lines right next to NYPAs existing power lines across the conservation area. Schumer noted that to mitigate any negative impact associated with crossing the conservation area RG&E is also offering additional mitigation that would be of significant benefit to NRCS and its wetlands program.  Schumer called on the USDA to swiftly review and approve this easement modification, as it is the only reasonable option to the town homeowners, Krenzer Family Farm, and RG&E.

"I am urging the USDA to quickly approve the application that would allow Rochester Gas and Electric to place its new power lines right next to the existing New York Power Authority transmission lines. This plan is supported by all involved parties and would be a major victory for the Krenzer family, as well as residents in the Towns of Chili and Henrietta," said Schumer. "We can protect homeowners' properties, the fourthgeneration Krenzer Family Farm, and RG&E's plan to boost Rochester's electric capacity all at the same time. Allowing the lines to run through the USDA's land would not only keep businesses up and running and residents happy, but it would also increase Rochester's energy capacity in a way that is beneficial to all in Monroe County."

Schumer is asking the USDA to expeditiously consider for approval a conservation easement modification required to avoid significant adverse impact to the fourth generation Krenzer Family Farm in Monroe County as well as to local residents and homes. Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) is seeking this conservation easement based on a process ordered by the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to evaluate alternative siting locations for a new 11 acre substation with an access road, and new electrical transmission lines (Circuits 940 and 941) required by RG&E to upgrade electrical capacity in the Rochester, New York region. 

 

Schumer explained that this approval would be a major step forward in the negotiation process. Currently, the NYPSC review process has yielded one alternative substation location on an undeveloped nonfarm parcel in the Town of Henrietta. However even this site would require RG&E transmission lines to either zigzag across the Krenzer farm or alternatively zigzag through neighboring homeowner properties, farm land, in proximity to a senior living community, and perhaps on untouched wetlands. Thus, under both scenarios, without this easement, the zigzag transmission line routing is not practical and would cause severe disruption and economic loss to impacted homeowners and local farms. Schumer explained that, for this reason, the routing of the transmission lines across the USDA conservation area, which negates the need to zigzag, is the only reasonable alternative.   

 

Schumer has been an advocate of a solution that would benefit all parties, relocate the substation to a nonfarmed site, and keep the Krenzer Family Farm in business from the very beginning. Just last year, Schumer stood with the Krenzers and explained that he supports the project overall, which will increase capacity and reliability and will help avoid future capacity issues in the Rochester area, and will boost annual tax revenue in Chili. This came on the heels of the Rochester Area Reliability Project, from RG&E, forecasting energy demand for the Rochester area, and calling for a portion of 25.5 miles of new transmission lines and construction of a new 11acre substation (Station 255) and access road, on land currently owned by Krenzer Farms. However, the siting plan of the 11acre substation, access road, and zigzagging transmission lines gave RG&E eminent domain to acres of farm land that would make farming impossible on large portions of the Krenzer farm. Moreover, property owners adjacent to the Krenzers' farm have indicated their interest to RG&E to sell easements to RG&E to site infrastructure on their property, rather than on the Krenzer property.

 

As a part of his past push, Schumer also urged the New York State Public Service Commission, which had agreed to consider to reopen the matter and work with all parties involved to assess the true impacts to the farm in hopes of finding a mutually acceptable solution that will allow these important enhancements to electrical infrastructure in the Rochester Area while protecting the livelihood of this fourth generation farm. In a letter to PSC Chairman Brown, Schumer also urged the PSC to continue to work with all of the interested parties to find a mutually acceptable solution that will provide needed enhancements to electrical infrastructure in the Rochester Area and protect high value farming land that has survived for over four generations.

 

Schumer said that increasing the electric capacity of Rochester while keeping the Krenzer Family Farm in business and Chili and Henrietta residents happy are not mutually exclusive options. Schumer has vowed to work alongside the Krenzers and, with all parties involved, to come to an agreeable solution, and offered to help expedite the process with federal agencies if required. Schumer says that if this USDA NRCS easement were granted, the Town of Chili and Henrietta would be one step closer to an amenable situation benefitting all parties.

 

A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to the USDA appears below:

 

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

 

Re: Application by Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) for the modification of Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) conservation easement: Agreement No. 662C31500381

 

I am writing to ask the USDA to expeditiously consider for approval a conservation easement modification required to avoid significant adverse impact to the 4 th generation Krenzer Family Farm in Monroe County, New York as well as to local residents and homes.  Rochester Gas & Electric (RG&E) is seeking this conservation easement based on a process ordered by the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to evaluate alternative siting locations for a new 11 acre substation with an access road, and new electrical transmission lines (Circuits 940 and 941) required by RG&E to upgrade electrical capacity in the Rochester, New York region. 

 

Unfortunately the current approved siting plan calls for the placing of the new substation in the heart of the Krenzer family farm in the Town of Chili (site 7) and erecting new transmission lines in a zigzag pattern across a wide swath of the farm, thus causing severe impacts to the Krenzers' ability to continue to productively farm this land.   Fortunately last year in light of the adverse impacts, the NYSPSC issued an order directing RG&E to seek this conservation easement for the Circuit 940 and 941 transmission lines and further directed RG&E and involved parties to review potential alternative siting locations for the substation.  Currently, this review process has yielded one alternative substation location (site 20) on an undeveloped nonfarm parcel in the Town of Henrietta.  However even this site 20 substation site would still require the circuit 940 and 941 transmission lines to either zigzag across the Krenzer farm or alternatively zigzag through neighboring homeowner properties, farm land, in proximity to a senior living community, and perhaps on untouched wetlands.  Thus under both scenarios, without this easement, the zigzag transmission line routing is not practical and would cause severe disruption and economic loss to impacted homeowners and local farms. 

 

Thus the routing of the transmission lines across the USDA conservation area, which negates the need to zigzag, is the only reasonable alternative.  It is also important to note that currently two New York Power Authority (NYPA) 345kV transmission lines already cross through the USDA conservation area.  Thus adding the new circuit 940 and 941 transmission lines adjacent to the existing NYPA lines should not add significantly to the current level of impacts to the conservation area and is consistent with sound routing for transmission facilities that requires that where possible, such lines be routed in existing utility corridors.  Moreover, I understand that RG&E is offering additional mitigation that would be of significant benefit to NRCS and its wetlands program to compensate NRCS for any negative impact that the crossing of the temporary conservation easement may cause. 

 

Thus I respectfully ask that you look favorably on this application to expeditiously approve RG&E's renewed application for permission to have Circuits 940 and 941 cross the conservation area.  I appreciate your consideration of this request.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator



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