"I am frustrated and angry by the way the information about gasification of the Cayuga Power Plant and NYSEG's proposed transmission line upgrade has been kept from me and the rest of the public," said Dryden resident Joe Wilson. "I have looked at the documents submitted by Cayuga Operating Company to the Public Service Commission and found that all of the financial information has been redacted; same for the NYSEG plan - all costs are hidden from public view."
Wilson claimed repowering the plant will cost a half billion dollars for 500 hours of operation per year.
"The citizens of Lansing, Dryden, and the rest of Tompkins County do not have enough information," said another Dryden resident, Marie McRae. "The proposal is redacted. The spoken answers are vague at best. The only thing certain right now is that we, and a lot of other electric customers in NY, will be paying for it."
Caroline Supervisor Don Barber said the PSC should be looking at renewable alternatives and called on the state to end thesecrecy and gage thepublic in solving our energy problems, release un-redacted documents, extend comment period, look to options to reduce energy consumption, and if repowering is necessary, solicit proposals for renewable energy solutions.
"The Public Service Commission should be exploring renewable alternatives, not limiting the repowering options to replacing one global warming fossil fuel with another one," Barber said. "The PSC should look for solutions that reduce energy consumption. They should use their authority to broker a demand-response compact with Nucor Steel so that in trade for the energy subsidies Nucor receives, they agree to reduce their energy consumption during the 500 hours of peak demand each year."
The press conference was notable for the absence of speakers from Lansing. Tompkins County Legislator Dooley Kiefer, whose district includes the Village of Lansing and part of the Village of Cayuga Heights, was the only speaker with any direct connection to the town. She said the repowering issue should be separated from the impact to the Lansing community.
"In my view the power issue should be New York's energy future," she said. "Not the tax base in Lansing or the school taxes, even though those are extremely important items for state politicians. Until today the PSC has only head from the press releases of elected officials who, one way or another, represent Lansing residents. Those public officials have been responding in favor of repowering with gas to keep the public tax base. It's an easy position for politicians to take."
Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc. Managing Attorney Helen Slottje said the PSC has a legal obligation to make financial and environmental information available to the public.
"We are here today because Governor Cuomo acting through his five hand-picked PSC Commissioners has presented us – NYSEG retail ratepayers – with a classic false choice dodge: transmission upgrades or repowering of the Cayuga power plant with natural gas," Slottje said. "In focusing the public’s attention on this false choice, the Governor is attempting to deflect public attention from the real issue here: how much is this new fossil fuel power plant going to cost and why are we even considering construction of a financially non- competitive 'out of market' fossil fuel power plant operated for profit by private institutional investors? And more importantly, why do the power plant operators who are asking the public to pay for the construction of a new power plant at least tell us what the new plant is expected to cost? And why won’t the PSC insist that the power plant operators disclose the proposed location of their new methane gas pipeline – particularly since the public is going to be paying for the pipeline?"
Dryden Councilwoman Linda Lavine expressed concerns about the impact of the proposals on her town, whether the plant is repowered or transmission lines are updated. If the plant is repowered it has been proposed that a 14 mile long pipeline extension may be built from Freeville to the north-west Lansing plant.
"There are potential environmental issues for a pipeline that could go through Dryden," she said. "And where would it go? There are issues of eminent domain, which are of serious concern to the people of Dryden. Again we are given no information. Also troubling to us is the lack of information about potential costs. It would appear there are three things for certain: death, taxes, and NYSEG bills."