Friday, July 16, 2010

S-7962C Passes Senate, But With Major Compromise

Good news? - the utility vegetation management notification bill passed the Senate.

Bad news? - It specifically conditionalizes any city, town or village located in the county of WESTCHESTER -- see quote of Section 1 below --

Section 1. 

Section 96-b of the general municipal law is amended by adding a new subdivision 3 to read as follows:
3. THE LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY OF ANY COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR VILLAGE LOCATED IN THE COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER IS HEREBY EMPOWERED TO ENACT A LOCAL LAW, RULE OR REGULATION CONTAINING THE FOLLOWING PROVISIONS:


--

Full text of passed bill:


BILL NUMBER:S7962C 

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the general municipal law, in relation to authorizing the local legislative body of a municipality located in the county of Westchester to require any utility company involved in a vegetation management plan to give prior notice to the local legislative body and the residents of the affected community and to hold a public meeting prior to implementation of such plan 

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: 

Section 1 of the bill amends the general municipal law by adding a new subdivision 3 to empower the local legislative body of any county, city, town or village within the County of Westchester to enact a local law, rule or regulation to require any utility company involved in a vegetation management plan that specifically includes the trimming or cutting of trees and/or the elimination of overgrown vegetation in any county, city, town or village shall give 60 days' notice prior to such activity to the community affected thereby. The involved utility company shall hold a public meeting within the affected community at least 30 days prior to the implementation of such plan or activity, providing the residents of such community with the details of such trimming, cutting, and/or vegetation management plan, and providing residents with an opportunity to be heard with respect to such plan. The legislation also allows for a utility company to not notify or hold public hearing in case of an emergency situation deemed to be a threat to public safety and welfare. The legislation also sets forth penalties if any utility fails to notify and/or hold public hearing will be subject to a civil penalty which will result in a fine up to $5,000 for the first violation and up to $10,000 for two or more violations within a five year period. This 

Section also states that these provisions shall not apply to any utility company that operates an interstate natural gas pipeline that is subject to the jurisdiction of the federal energy regulatory commission.



Section 2 is the immediate effective date. JUSTIFICATION:

Consistently for several years, Consolidated Edison, a utility regulated by the State's Public Service Department, as well as other utility companies in New York State, has repeatedly entered the process of what they deem to be necessary tree removal due to the proximity of overgrown trees near power lines in residential areas of Westchester County. However, many of the residents in communities of Yonkers, Greenburgh and Mt. Pleasant, as well as many others, have been dissatisfied with the process from its incipiency. Many argued that far too many trees were removed yielding various consequences that could have been avoided had there been a mechanism for public input especially regarding site selection and the extent of the trimming.

These consequences include the creation of naked areas that leave sudden drop offs as well as the spread of branches and wood chips making child friendly areas potentially harmful. Additionally, the removal of trees along the New York State Thruway and Sprain Brook Parkway has caused an increase in noise and artificial light entering homes throughout the affected residential areas. According to members of local environmental conservation groups, the trees in many of these affected areas served as protections to residents from natural processes such as flooding and erosion, which can lead to property damage and personal injury. Several homes have already experienced some of these results as water has run into basements and increased wind speeds have caused damage to several houses.



LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill
2010

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This bill will take effect immediately.
S7962C Text
S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
7962--C
Cal. No. 929 I N SENATE May 27, 2010
Introduced by Sens. STEWART-COUSINS, OPPENHEIMER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Local Government -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- reported favorably from said committee, ordered to first and second report, ordered to a third reading, amended and ordered reprinted, retaining its place in the order of third reading -- again amended and ordered reprinted, retaining its place in the order of third reading

AN ACT to amend the general municipal law, in relation to authorizing the local legislative body of a municipality located in the county of Westchester to require any utility company involved in a vegetation management plan to give prior notice to the local legislative body and the residents of the affected community and to hold a public meeting prior to implementation of such plan THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:


Section 1.

Section 96-b of the general municipal law is amended by adding a new subdivision 3 to read as follows:
3. THE LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY OF ANY COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR VILLAGE LOCATED IN THE COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER IS HEREBY EMPOWERED TO ENACT A LOCAL LAW, RULE OR REGULATION CONTAINING THE FOLLOWING PROVISIONS:
A. ANY UTILITY COMPANY INVOLVED IN A VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN THAT SPECIFICALLY INCLUDES THE CUTTING, TRIMMING AND/OR REMOVAL OF TREES IN ANY COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR VILLAGE SHALL GIVE SIXTY DAYS NOTICE PRIOR TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SUCH ACTIVITY TO THE RESIDENTS OF THE COMMUNITY AFFECTED THEREBY. NO SUCH ACTIVITY SHALL BE COMMENCED UNTIL AFTER SUCH UTILITY COMPANY HAS HELD A PUBLIC MEETING IN RELATION THERETO AT LEAST THIRTY DAYS PRIOR, AT WHICH THE LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY AND THE RESIDENTS OF SUCH AFFECTED COMMUNITY SHALL BE PROVIDED WITH THE DETAILS OF SUCH TRIMMING, CUTTING, REMOVAL AND/OR VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN AND WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD ON SUCH MATTERS; B. IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY SITUATION DEEMED TO BE A THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE, SUCH UTILITY COMPANY SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED TO EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD17542-11-0
S. 7962--C 2 GIVE NOTICE OR TO HOLD A PUBLIC MEETING PRIOR TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SUCH A VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN; AND C. ANY UTILITY COMPANY THAT VIOLATES THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE LIABLE TO A CIVIL PENALTY WHICH SHALL RESULT IN A FINE OF UP TO FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A FIRST TIME VIOLATION AND UP TO TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR TWO OR MORE VIOLATIONS INCURRED WITHIN A FIVE YEAR PERIOD. SUCH MONEYS COLLECTED PURSUANT TO THIS PARAGRAPH SHALL BE DEPOSITED INTO AN ACCOUNT MAINTAINED BY THE LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY OF THE AFFECTED LOCALITY. SUCH LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY SHALL ESTABLISH SUCH ACCOUNT, TO BE KNOWN AS THE TREE CONSERVATION FUND, FOR THE RECEIPT OF ALL SUCH MONEYS, AND SAID MONEYS SHALL BE UTILIZED BY SUCH LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY EXCLUSIVELY TO DEVELOP, IMPLEMENT AND/OR MAINTAIN TREE CONSERVATION PROJECTS WITHIN THE AFFECTED LOCALITY. D. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL NOT APPLY TO ANY UTILITY COMPANY THAT OPERATES AN INTERSTATE NATURAL GAS PIPELINE THAT IS SUBJECT TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION.

S 2. This act shall take effect immediately. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Electric Power Research Institute - Publication Reference

from the EPRI website:

Balancing cost, reliability and environmental protection are major challenges for the power industry. To remain competitive, electric utilities need information and tools to cost-effectively address environmental concerns related to the development and upgrade of rights-of-way (ROW) corridors as well as the management of existing ones. Through deliberate planning and collaboration with electric utility advisors, the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Rights-of-Way: Siting, Vegetation Management, and Avian Issues Program has more than a decade of research and synthesis of lessons learned available. Organized by topical area, this reference allows quick access to a library of relevant results. To get a specific listing, just click on desired topic. An abstract of each publication is also available; just click on a report title or go to www.epri.com and search for the report number. 

Access the EPRI research on Rights-of-Way Issues - download pdf document.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

PSC Submission Documents from LORAX working group - Reply Comments

The following documents were submitted to the PSC on July 6, 2010 by LORAX Working Group as part of the Reply Comments phase of Case 10-E-0155. Original filings referred to herein can be found at the online Document Matters database for the PSC Case. The original Case filings by LORAX (June 16,2010) can be found at this posting.

LORAX Reply Comments for PSC Case 10-E-0155 - Con Edison.pdf

Additional LORAX Response to CE-OR Comments 7-6-10.pdf

hLORAX Reply Comments for PSC Case 10-E-0155 - CN Utilities.pdf

LORAX Reply Comments for PSC Case 10-E-0155 - EEANY.pdf



Here are original Case filings (June 16,2010) and Reply Commnets (July 6,2010) filed for the Weschester Board of Legislators:

WCBOL Comments, Case 10-E-0155.pdf

Appendix A - Preface, Photographs.pdf

Appendix B - WCBOL Res'n. 26-2010.pdf

Appendix C - Petitions to Save Our Woodlands.pdf (large file! 8.5Mb)

Appendix D - Previous Regulations Review.pdf

WCBOL Reply Comments for PSC Case 10-E-0155.pdf