ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York farm family that’s refusing to cave to a major power company and New York state is getting a powerful ally in U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
New York’s senior senator is calling on Rochester Gas & Electric Co. and the Cuomo administration’s Public Service Commission to find a new route for a power line rather than down the middle of the Krenzer family’s 360-acre farm in Chili, near Rochester. The Democrat also sent the request in a letter to Robert Kump, CEO of IberdrolaUSA, which owns the utility.
Schumer said the public demand for more power and the private interests of a family that has tilled the land for four generations are not mutually exclusive.
“Increasing the supply of energy to the Rochester area is critical as demand increases; however, additional sources of electricity must not come at the expense of local farmers and their livelihoods, especially those like the Krenzers that have deep New York roots,” Schumer said. “I am confident we can find an alternative siting that is both amenable to Ibredrola and the Krenzers, particularly considering there are other viable options available.”
In April, the PSC approved the construction of 21 miles of new transmission lines and upgrades to three substations, part of which would destroy great swaths of the Krenzers’ soy, wheat and feed corn crops. The Krenzers said that was the first time they learned of the breadth of the proposal.
Schumer’s comments will be part of the testimony collected during an extended comment period that was granted at the request of the Krenzer family after the family petitioned the Public Service Commission to reconsider its support for the power project. The PSC in August agreed to reconsider the plan, already approved by the state, and to appoint the administrative law judge to seek a consensus solution.
PSC officials had no immediate comment Tuesday.
“Wow!” said farm co-owner Marie Krenzer said after a Schumer visit Tuesday. “He gets that we’re not opposed to a power reliability project, but placing a substation in the heart of the home farm is too much to take.”
The family met privately with state officials and an administrative law judge a week ago to discuss alternatives to the plan. A decision by the state Public Service Commission is expected in mid-September.
“We have confidence in the system that, in the end, commonsense will prevail,” Krenzer said.