FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 20, 2014 CONTACT: DIDI BARRETT (845) 454-1703

Press Release

Barrett to the PSC: Proposed transmission lines already negatively impacting the community
Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Hudson) has sent a letter to New York State Public Service Commission Secretary Kathleen Burgess, Commissioner Audrey Zibelman, Deputy Secretary of Energy Tom Congdon and Administrative Law Judge David Prestemon highlighting the negative impact that the governor’s proposed Energy Highway is already beginning to have on families, farms and businesses in the proposed area – many of whom have already had land stripped away from them over generations for past transmission projects. While information continues to roll in there are still a lot of uncertainties, leaving many families watching the values of their properties drop due to concerns over the potential effects the projects may have. Some businesses, like The Omega Institute, have suspended projects over concern about the impact of possible land seizures, health effects, and visual landscape changes, Assemblymember Barrett noted in the letter. “While we have been told this project won’t be decided for some time, the fact is we are already seeing a destabilizing effect from these proposed power lines on our local communities,” said Assemblymember Didi Barrett. “An economic engine like Omega that attracts tens of thousands of people to the region is putting building projects on hold. Banks are questioning the value of homes in the proposed pathway. And hardworking families are struggling to make normal household decisions fearing they could lose their family home over eminent domain.” “We are seeing that our beautiful Hudson Valley region is already being negatively impacted by this project and I am urging the PSC and the governor to consider a course of action that will bring peace of mind as soon as possible to folks in the community,” Assemblymember Barrett concluded. Over the past several months, public utility companies and other developers have submitted applications to the Public Service Commission in response to the governor’s energy super highway initiative. These proposed power lines cut right through people’s homes, farms, businesses, and the beautiful landscapes of the region and can have a negative impact on livelihoods, health and the economy. Assemblymember Barrett has been an outspoken opponent of any project that would negatively impact the natural resources, economy or communities in the region and has previously urged the PSC and Governor Cuomo to consider all possible options, including underground installation because it would preserve the land and lessen any negative impacts on the homes, health and livelihoods of so many.

-30**Below is a copy of Assemblymember Barrett’s Letter to the PSC**

February 19, 2014

Kathleen H. Burgess Secretary New York State Public Service Commission Three Empire State Plaza Albany, New York 12223-1350

Dear Secretary Burgess, I write to update you and the Public Service Commission with great concern over the negative impact Governor Cuomo's proposed Energy Highway is already beginning to have on my constituents in the Hudson Valley. While information continues to roll in from utility companies and developers, businesses and homeowners are being faced with an increasingly intense level of uncertainty. Many of these families have had to surrender land in successive generations, losing property for transmission projects in the 1920s, ‘40s, and ‘60s and they now live under the threat of eminent domain in this generation. It is patently unfair for these families to be faced with this burden once again. Further compounding their suffering, are the complexities arising from the lack of clarity over the size and scope of the current proposals. Many of these families are currently watching the value of their properties drop precipitously, as banks and real-estate seekers have voiced legitimate concerns over the potential effects these projects may have on individual properties and communities. Additionally, long standing economic engines in the affected areas have put important building projects on hold until the impacts are made clear. One such organization is the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. The Omega Institute has been located in Dutchess County since 1977 and is a worldwide retreat and educational destination which welcomes 23,000 visitors annually to the Hudson Valley. The Omega Institute employs 75 people full time with an additional 300 seasonal employees. It is a major contributor to our economy and vital supporter of our local farms. Citing the fact that the current right of way bisects their campus, the Omega Institute has put a proposed dining hall expansion project -- which we had met with them about months earlier -- on hold indefinitely, and it is reviewing its capital investment plans over concerns about the impact of possible land seizures, health effects, and visual landscape changes. Since the governor announced his Energy Highway Initiative, I have made clear my strong opposition to any project that would negatively impact our farms, families, businesses, communities, our viewsheds, and our economy. I hope this letter serves to call attention to the impacts already being felt here in the Hudson Valley and consider a course of action which will bring them relief as soon as possible. Sincerely, Didi Barrett Member of Assembly CC: David Prestemon, Administrative Law Judge Audrey Zibelman, Commissioner Tom Congdon, Deputy Secretary for Energy

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