Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This Year's Issue

Here's the IJ's story about the public forum involving this year's issue in Tompkins County. The former Milliken Station, long a coal-fired plant, was about to close when its new owners, inspired by Gov. Cuomo's urging statewide, decided to retrofit it as a natural gas-burning plant.

The fight breaks down along several lines. Lansing will lose (and until a few weeks ago was definitely going to lose) a couple million dollars in revenues without the plant, which lies just barely within its borders. Since Lansing Schools have thrived off their expanding tax base, the thought of losing this money and perhaps ending up with taxes like Dryden's is galling to many.

At the far opposite end are those for whom "gas" is a fighting word. Most of them want the plant closed forever.

Then there are a range of other opinions. Paul has written to the IJ with a suggestion about a switch to switchgrass. It's something Cornell has been studying forever, and here's a gigantic opportunity to put their plans into practice. I wrote to the Public Service Commission in support of someone's plan for converting the plant to waste-for-energy. One of our local legislators wants to keep the coal and save the railroad. NYSEG thinks all they need is an upgrade in transmission lines.

Ultimately, the decision is in the hands of a private corporation, despite the fact that any decision they make will affect the general populace in the form of significant rate hikes on our electric bills. If they convert to gas, the pipeline will almost certainly run through Dryden, because that's where there's already a pump station. So this is affecting politics countywide, and everyone is being forced to express an opinion.

It would be nice to have a plan before November. This should not be a partisan issue, but it's shaping up to be the only issue.

No comments: