Senator urges New York to advance four-plant hydro development

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is urging New York City to speed up talks with Delaware County Electric Cooperative to develop 29.75 MW of hydroelectric capacity on four of the city’s water supply reservoirs in Upstate New York.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a preliminary permit to the city in May to study the 29.75-MW West of Hudson project (No. 13287). The Delaware County co-op had filed for its own preliminary permit for what it called the 63-MW Catskills Hydro project (No. 13222), but was bested by New York City based on FERC’s policy of municipal preference in cases of competing applications.(HydroWorld 6/26/09)

“NYC won the permit, but now admits that it does not have the desire or ability to develop these hydro facilities and has said publicly that they would like DCEC to develop the project,” a statement by Schumer’s office said July 14, 2009. “Yet these promises have not translated into productive talks with DCEC, and there is worry that if the negotiations do not speed up, DCEC will lose a historic opportunity.”

New York’s proposal includes powerhouses at existing earthen dams and reservoirs: 12.1-MW Cannonsville, West Branch Delaware River, 25.46 gigawatt-hours of annual generation; 1.65-MW Neversink, Neversink River, 7.79 GWh; 3.1-MW Pepacton, East Branch Delaware River, 9.04 GWh; and 12.9-MW Schoharie, Schoharie Creek, 31.8 GWh. The preliminary permit gives the New York City Department of Environmental Protection three years in which to study the feasibility of the project.

“The project would not only benefit the members of DCEC, but would also generate revenues for New York City,” Schumer’s office said. “Unfortunately, the DEP is dragging its feet on the negotiations to transfer the development rights to DCEC, and communities that would stand to benefit from this hydroelectric project are missing out on valuable opportunities to apply for federal dollars for the project, including stimulus funding.”

Schumer wrote the Department of Environmental Protection, urging the city to speed up negotiations.

“Communities in the Hudson River watershed are in desperate need of jobs and tax revenue, and putting this untapped power source to use will deliver both, while protecting the purity of the city’s water supply,” Schumer wrote.

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