Power-line opposition group gets organized

Barbara Rathbun

Citizens in Naples and South Bristol have organized to lobby against the electrical transmission line Rochester Gas & Electric plans to build from Eelpot Road to Bristol Mountain.

The Naples Valley-Bristol Hills Association’s goal is to make RG&E justify the need for the 34.5-kilovolt line and to push for buried wires instead of a 16-mile stretch of 50-foot wooden poles though scenic countryside.

An underground line would be five to seven times more expensive to install than above-ground lines, said Robert Bergin, director of public affairs for New York State Electric and Gas and RG&E, both owned by Energy East.

“I understand the interest in an underground  line,” he said. “I respect what these people are doing.”

Stiff opposition from residents has already delayed the transmission line. According to Bergin, the project is several months behind schedule.

“We have an obligation to our customers to find a solution,” said Bergin of the need for more power in Ontario County. “(But) the north option really is not an option for us," referring to residents’ request that the utility bring power south from a Farmington substation instead of north from the Eelpot Road substation.

According to Bergin, the 30-mile distance from the Farmington substation to South Bristol would make it hard to maintain the proper voltage. In addition, he said, the Farmington substation is owned by another power company and RG&E does not have the authority to maintain and upgrade those lines. NYSEG owns the Eelpot substation.

“We’re open to any suggestion. If we could find a solution that would work for us, we would pursue it,” he said. “Sometime after the first of the year we would like to meet with residents again. If any organization would like me to meet with them, I’d be more than happy to come.”

Several hundred citizens from Naples, South Bristol, Italy, Cohocton and Rochester have expressed opposition to this power line, said Renae Rennoldson, spokeswoman for the organization. Their main concerns are maintaining the scenic views, wind power involvement, environmental issues and health concerns, she said.

The Naples Valley-Bristol Hills Association is open to anyone whether resident, renter or landowner, said Rennoldson. The association has recently formed a Web site, www.nvbha.com, and has begun to petition door-to-door. According to Rennoldson, representatives plan to attend the Dec. 10 Town Board meetings in Naples, 7 p.m. at the Village Hall Annex; and South Bristol, 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall; as well as the Dec. 19 Naples Village Board meeting at 7 p.m.

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