In just two months, the Ashokan Pumped Storage Project has managed to outrage just about everyone it threatens to touch: local politicians both right and left, environmentalists, county and school administrators, and ordinary woods-dwellers whose homes lie under blue water on Premium Energy’s speculative topo maps.
“The application itself has already caused great stress and alarm in the community,” Town of Olive Supervisor Jim Sofranko, a leading opposition voice, wrote in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). “The issuance of a permit will only compound that stress, adversely affect property values, disrupt the future plans of residents and businesses, cause economic hardship, and tax the limited resources of local towns, counties, and non-government agencies.”
Opponents to the Ashokan power project have formed an impressive coalition, working swiftly and with purpose. So far, more than 600 comments and motions to intervene have been filed by project opponents with FERC, with the deadline for submitting comments coming Monday. In addition to noting that the project would flood protected land and impact local ecology and tourism, many critics have pointed out factual flaws with the proposal: For example, Premium Energy’s application appears to place Lanesville in Ulster County—it’s in Greene County—and it calls its project “closed-loop.” Closed-loop projects are not connected to a continuously flowing natural water source, and are considered to have smaller environmental impacts. But projects where an upper reservoir is added to an existing lower reservoir are known as “add-on” projects, according to the Department of Energy.
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