The PSC regulates the State's electric, gas, steam, telecommunications, and water utilities, and is charged by law with responsibility for setting rates and ensuring the provision of safe and reliable service by the utilities it regulates.
Article VII of the New York State Public Service Law, "Siting of Major Utility Transmission Facilities,” requires a full environmental, public health and safety impact review of the siting, design, construction, and operation of major transmission facilities in New York State. Any proposed electric line of 115,000 volts (115-kV) which is 10 miles long or greater, or 345-kV which is one mile long or greater, must submit an application to the PSC for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need.
Article VII prescribes the content of an application, including a description of the project’s location, alternative locations, expected economic effects and environmental studies. The PSC makes the final decision regarding all Article VII applications after careful review and with public input. For a complete description of the regulatory process, please refer to the Department of Public Service.
The PSC also reviews and makes the decisions regarding Environmental Management and Construction Plans (EM&CP) for Article VII projects. The EM&CP details the precise location of project facilities and precautions to ensure environmental compatibility, and must be approved before construction may commence.
NYSDEC will review project activities to identify potential project impacts to wetlands and rare, threatened and endangered species. NYSDEC also evaluates noise expected from the project, the potential visibility impacts of the project, and the potential spread of invasive plant species from the project. A Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) to prevent discharges of construction-related pollutants to surface waters is included as part of the EM&CP.
The Department is involved in reviewing various types of construction projects affecting farmland. Department staff works with projects from the early planning stages through construction and final restoration to ensure that impacts to agricultural resources are minimized and/or properly mitigated.
The Department is a statutory party to all Article VII electric transmission line proceedings governed by the PSC. Department staff provide pre-application information to project sponsors on specific agricultural resource concerns in the project area. They also review applications for potential agricultural resource impacts. This involves reviewing proposed routing to determine if agricultural land will be crossed by the project and reviewing proposed construction plans to determine potential impacts to agricultural resources. Staff conducts on-site reviews during construction and restoration to assess the contractor’s level of compliance with stipulations and certificate conditions for affected agricultural land.
The New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) functions as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and it evaluates possible project impacts to cultural resources. Information on inventoried archeological sites within a certain distance of each proposed facility is reviewed and field investigations are conducted if the review indicates the potential for significant project impacts to these types of resources. The SHPO is consulted during the historic evaluation.
Under Section 404(e) of the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) can issue permits to authorize activities that have minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effect on aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development. USACE evaluates permit applications for essentially all construction activities that occur in the Nation's waters, including wetlands.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is a bureau within the Department of the Interior. There are federal protections for birds and other animal and plant species under the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. USFWS is consulted with during the environmental impact analysis to determine potential project impacts to endangered species.