The time to be upset was before Schmuckie pushed this through!
Schumer weighs in on RG&E dispute
The Krenzer family listens to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer during a visit to their Chili farm on Tuesday. CARLOS ORTIZ /STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer voiced his support Tuesday morning for a Chili family that is resisting RG&E efforts to appropriate some of its farmland for a major power transmission project.
Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. had won approval from New York state regulators to use its power of eminent domain to acquire about 80 acres of the 670-acre Krenzer farm. The utility wants to locate a new substation, access road and transmission line on the farm as part of a $254 million project to provide more electricity to the Rochester area.
Members of the Krenzer family say they don’t oppose the project but say loss of 80 acres and impact on about 200 acres more would disrupt operations on their hundredyear- old farm. They said the utility didn’t fully explore alternatives. The family would be paid fair value for the property that RG&E acquired.
The Krenzers have said RG&E’s original proposal was presented to the state Public Service Commission and approved by commissioners before the family knew about it.
After they learned of the proposal and understood its impact on their farm, the family went public with its complaints this spring, mounting a grass-roots campaign and then speaking to the Democrat and Chronicle’s Albany bureau for a story
that appeared in July. The PSC announced last month that it would reconsider the matter, and directed the parties to work with an administrative law judge, or ALJ, to find ways to minimize impact on the Krenzer farm. That effort is to be finished by Sept. 15.
Marie Krenzer, who owns and operates the farm with her husband Dave, said the PSC has told the parties that discussions are confidential, but said she’s sure a suitable alternative will be laid on the table. The family hired an engineering firm earlier this year to study RG&E’s proposed route and explore alternatives, and now is represented by a lawyer in the discussions in Albany. Krenzer said the cost to the family has reached six figures and said in response to a question that she didn’t know whether there was any chance of reimbursement.
Schumer, New York’s senior senator, said at a news conference at the Scottsville Road farm that RG&E should agree to relocate the new substation and access road and reroute the powerline to minimize impact on the Krenzers’ land. Schumer said he approves of the RG&E project, and believes it can move forward without causing what he called “irreparable harm” to the farm. “The Krenzers and the local community believe you can have your cake and eat it too. There is another way,” he said.
The senator was critical of the utility, which is owned by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola SA, for forcing the Krenzers to go to the mat for their property. “I don’t see why RG&E doesn’t just say they’ll do it. No one can understand their stubbornness here,” Schumer said. “If they don’t go along, it won’t be forgotten.”
Utility spokesman Dan Hucko also noted that company officials are bound by the PSC’s confidentiality directive. But he said the company “is already engaged in that mediation process and met with all parties and the ALJ last week.
“RG&E is committed to work with all concerned parties to try to find an acceptable solution and keep this important project on track,” he said.