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Power Lines Not "Best Bet" in $1 Billion-Plus Decision

PHOTO: Pouring more than $1 billion into the proposed Hudson Valley transmission project is a bad deal for ratepayers, according to a new report. Photo courtesy of NISLAPP.
PHOTO: Pouring more than $1 billion into the proposed Hudson Valley transmission project is a bad deal for ratepayers, according to a new report. Photo courtesy of NISLAPP.
June 22, 2015

NEW YORK – A new report says New Yorkers don't need to invest in a $1 billion-plus Hudson Valley energy transmission project - and they will get cleaner and cheaper power in return.

The Public Utilities Commission is confronted with a choice, and Tim Schoechle, Ph.D. – senior research fellow with the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy (NISLAPP) – just issued an analysis that says the proposed Hudson Valley power line project only serves utility companies and their suppliers.

He explains New York consumers gain more with locally-generated renewable energy sources, "Because of the opportunity to get more reliability on their grid if they don't have these big transmission systems. I think the commission wants to go forward with it, but they are up against some pretty powerful economic forces," says Schoechle.

The NISLAPP report was published on June 15. The commission will be seeking technical input next month.

Camilla Rees, NISLAPP senior policy adviser, believes the energy decisions now pending in New York have implications for the nation.

"The two conflicting proposals on the table in New York State relate to every state," says Rees. "We are at a turning point, where we must choose to go to a renewable, locally-generated model, and transition away from the centrally-generated electricity paradigm."

Schoechle says cheaper solar installations and advances in battery storage are among the game-changers in this field, adding that New York needs to keep pace.

"The technology and economy of electricity is in a rapid state of change right now," Schoechle says. "The economies of scale in the old systems just don't work anymore. You could do it a lot cleaner and cheaper with distributed solar."

The paper – entitled, "The Hudson Valley 'Energy Highway' Transmission Project: An Idea Whose Time Has Passed?" – can be viewed here.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY