An 800-Megawatt Surprise – Destroying a Community

One of the nice things about writing a blog is that your readers send you ideas for your next article.  This one is a doozey.

There is an 800-megawatt hydroelectric project for New York which is proposed by Premium Energy Holdings of California.  The proposal calls for the Ashokan Reservoir water and its existing dam to be used as a lower reservoir in a pumped storage power plant facility.

The project’s preliminary permit application is before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The reservoir proposal has been called “devastating.”  Local officials, who only learned of the project in the last few days, expressed grave concern about the project.

The project would be devastating to the town of Hunter because ultimately the reservoir that is proposed for Stony Clove in Lanesville is essentially on top of homes, right on top of the post office and on top of Route 214.

The dam proposed for Hunter would be 212 feet high and the surface area of the reservoir would encompass 245 acres with a capacity of 22,496 acre-foot, which is the amount of water needed to cover one acre to the depth of one foot, according to the application.

The proposal calls for the Ashokan Reservoir water and its existing dam to be used as a lower reservoir in a pumped storage power plant facility, according to the town of Olive’s website.

An upper reservoir would be constructed at the Wittenberg Stream at the end of Moonhaw Road in West Shokan, the Woodland Valley in Shandaken or Stony Clove in Hunter.

So far, local officials are not impressed with the plan.  Several predicted it would likely go nowhere.  One vowed to fight it if it did.

Town of Shandaken Supervisor Robert Stanley said in a telephone interview that his town was “vehemently opposed” to the current plan for a variety of reasons.  He said it would remove vital property from the town’s tax base and block the spawning areas of trout fisheries, something Shandaken is well-known for.

He said that his interpretation of the proposed locations for the new reservoirs would mean taking away private property from people and in one case – for the prospective Woodland Reservoir – involve flooding an entire community, Woodland Valley.

“That would be a massive loss for the town of Shandaken,” Stanley said.

The project would require large scale condemnation and would affect endangered species, fishing, hiking, hunting, skiing, traffic and quality of life in the area.  A fully-executed pumped storage system could lead to a decade of construction, detours and massive power lines running into Kingston.  Needless to say, there is great local opposition to the project.

My thanks to Mike Dean for bringing this to my attention.

Posted in Condemnation, FERC, Hydroelectric Power Plant, Reservoir
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