Federal judge tosses NYRI suit: Syracuse NY Post Standard, 10/27/07

Decision against eminent domain suit will stall proposed transmission line

By Kathy Coffta Sims

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by New York Regional Interconnect that challenged a state law protecting homeowners from the use of eminent domain by private power companies.

State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday afternoon called Judge Thomas J. McAvoy's decision a "win for homeowners in Central New York and across the state."

What effect that ruling has on NYRI's proposal to build a $1.6 billion transmission line from Oneida County to Orange County remains to be seen.

The lawsuit, filed in February, sought to invalidate a 2006 state law preventing the use of eminent domain by gas and electric utility companies.

Friday's decision in U.S. District Court in Albany was hailed by Communities Against Regional Interconnection, a consortium of counties and citizens groups fighting the proposed power line.

Earlier this month, the federal Department of Energy designated two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, one in the mid-Atlantic region and the other in the Southwest.

The mid-Atlantic region corridor cuts a wide swath through New York and includes the areas of Madison, Chenango and Oneida counties where the proposed NYRI line would run.

The DOE said it was designating the corridors to address "persistent transmission congestion" in the two areas. When that announcement was made, Kevin Kolevar, DOE assistant secretary for electricity delivery and energy reliability, said that groups like NYRI would need to spend another year trying to negotiate solutions with states.

If negotiations fail, he said, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could step in and grant eminent domain authority.

Syracuse NY Post Standard: http://www.syracuse.com