OLIVEBRIDGE – A proposal by California-based Premium Energy Holdings to construct a pumped storage project to generate hydroelectric power from the Ashokan Reservoir has received widespread local opposition from area environmental groups and State Senator Michelle Hinchey (D, Saugerties).
The company has submitted a preliminary permit application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study the feasibility of developing the project that would include construction of a new dam and reservoir at one of three alternative sites near the Ashokan – the Stony Clove in Lanesville, Wittenberg Road in Olive, or Woodland Valley in Phoenicia.
Hinchey said the project “is a dangerous, half-baked proposal that will cause irreparable damage to our region and cannot be allowed to move forward.” She said while New York is moving toward 100 percent renewable energy sources, “we cannot do so at the detriment of our precious natural resources or at the expense of our drinking water and watershed communities.”
“We are doing everything in our power to send a clear message to prevent casual exploitation of our irreplaceable lands and waters,” said Kathy Nolan, senior research director for Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Olive Town Supervisor Jim Sofranko said the town opposes the application, which is “filled with inaccuracies and misinformation showing a complete lack of understanding of the legal environmental protections in place protecting New York State Forever Wild forests and the New York City watershed.”
Jay Ungar, president and CEO of The Ashokan Center, said the “beautiful region has many important historic and natural features that enrich the lives of residents and visitors alike. From what I’ve seen to date, PSP Pumped Storage project will have a distinctly adverse impact on our region and provide little benefit or gain.”
The deadline to submit comments to FERC is April 12. Letters of up to 6,000 characters can be submitted online at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx or mailed to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.