Cuomo wins eminent domain dispute

John O'Brien Oct. 29, 2007, 3:16pm


ALBANY, N.Y. - New York legislators did not violate a company's right to equal protection when they enacted a law that protected homeowners from the eminent-domain seizing of their homes by private transmission companies, a federal judge recently ruled.

U.S. District Judge David Homer on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by New York Regional Interconnect, a business interested in constructing a power line from Oneida County to Eastern Orange County.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo defended the State in the case and had moved to dismiss it in September.

"The judge's decision is a win for homeowners in central New York and across the state," Cuomo said. "As Attorney General, I will continue to fight for New York's right to make decisions on projects like NYRI based on our state's environmental and energy needs, not on the desires of private companies or the federal government."

A proposed National Interest Electric Corridor paved the way for NYRI to possibly take the homes through eminent domain, the acquiring of property without the owner's consent.

In NYRI's February complaint, it quoted Sen. James Seward as saying, "We want to make NYRI's effort to drape their towers across our land more difficult, and without eminent domain, they will have to negotiate with willing buyers."

The project would have supplied power only to the New York City area. In the company's complaint, NYRI says the power line's benefits include:

-An increase in the reliability of the state's bulk power transmission system;

-A reduction in the prices of the state's wholesale electricity markets;

-An increase in the state's power supply, leading to a reduction in its dependence on gas- and oil-fired electric generation resources;

-A raise in the tax base along the transmission route;

-Creation of hundreds of construction-related employment opportunities, as well as many permanent jobs; and

-A decrease in emissions from gas- and oil-fired electric generation facilities that would provide a positive for the environment.

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