The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) said Sept. 15 that it had selected new sites for the construction of a new substation and transmission line that are needed to strengthen the resiliency and ensure the reliability of the electric grid in the region surrounding Rochester.
With the recent order, the location of a new electric substation to be built and owned by Rochester Gas & Electric Corporation (RG&E) would be moved from the Krenzer Family Farm in the Town of Chili to vacant land across the Genesee River to the east. Second, the routing of two new 115-kV lines would be altered to eliminate a zig-zag route through Krenzer property that would have significantly impacted their farming operations.
The joint proposal adopted Sept. 15 was supported by RG&E, Department of Public Service staff, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Krenzers, and the Towns of Chili and Henrietta. No party opposed the joint proposal.
The new route, made possible by securing federal approval to route the lines though a parcel with a U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation easement, eliminates the zig-zag through Krenzer fields, thereby reducing the impacts on their operations.
Initially, the project called for the construction of approximately 23 miles of new 115-kV transmission lines, reconstruction of two miles of an existing 115-kV line, a new 1.9 mile 345 kV line, a new 345-kV/115-kV substation, and the improvement of three existing substations, in the towns of Chili, Gates, and Henrietta, and in the City of Rochester, Monroe County.
The 94-page order amends the previously-issued Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the project. RG&E had initially sought certification in September 2011.
“It was only through the outstanding efforts of all of the parties in this complicated proceeding that we were able to find a solution that benefits everyone while ensuring that the impact on the environment and valuable agriculture farm land was minimized,” said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman.
“With this decision, the local electric grid will be made more secure, which is of paramount importance to the Commission,” Zibelman said in a news release.
The PSC approved the project in early 2013; however, members of the Krenzer family, who own farmland impacted by the project, and the Town of Chili filed petitions for rehearing and raised questions concerning the impacts of both the substation location and the routing of the transmission lines on agricultural land uses.
Upon review, the Commission ordered a reexamination of the impacts of the substation location on the Krenzers’ farming activities. The Commission appointed an administrative law judge to work with the parties in an effort to find a consensus solution while still meeting the electric reliability needs of Rochester residents. When those consensus efforts failed, the PSC ordered a re-opening of the record to consider alternatives. At the same time, the Commission required RG&E to seek a modification of the USDA easement, in order to route the line along an existing right-of-way and avoid further impact on farm fields.
Hearings before the presiding administrative law judges were conducted in 2014, with active participation by the Krenzer family, other nearby landowners, and the state Departments of Public Service, Agriculture and Markets, and Environmental Conservation, as well as RG&E.