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A citizens group in Cortlandt Manor is protesting Consolidated Edison's plans to drain its ten acre lake that runs along Furnace Dock Road.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has ordered the utility to make repairs on the dam, but Con Ed has decided to drain the lake, saying it's best to bring it back to its "natural state."
Railroad Pond was originally a stream that was dammed up by New York Central Railroad, a precursor to Metro North, in 1892, created as a means of servicing locomotives at the former Montrose train station and to supply water for the railroad's steam engines.
Railroad Pond was purchased by Con Edison in 1958 to build power lines from Indian Point to New York City. It has since maintained the dam and madeCitizens Group Joins Fight to Preserve Pond in Cortlandt changes to the Railroad Pond over the years. It has lowered the water table over the past 20 years, decreasing Railroad Pond's size to ten acres. It was originally double that.
Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert says the State DEC deemed Railroad Pond, a "high hazard dam," and ordered the utility to remove the dam altogether, a move he says was endorsed by environmental group, American Rivers. According to Olert, "What we are proposing to do is swap one habitat for another, return the site to its original condition, make the whole area safe,add parkland and hiking trails and public access, something which it does not currently have."
Olert claims the pond is six feet deep at the most, and is not home to any significant number of fish.
The citizens group that calls itself "Save Railroad Pond," is accusing Con Edison of trying to cut maintenance costs without regard for the environment. The group's spokesman, Radu Dumitrescu insists that is not the case. Said Dumitrescu, "There is no public benefit by removing the dam altogether, only loss of land, water and biodiversity. This is something that once done, cannot be undone."
Dumitrescu added, "We are sure there are endangered species of plants and animals in the area and we are hoping to order, if need be, a biodiversity study."
Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi and members of the Town Board support efforts to keep the lake as is. The Town Board recently passed a resoulution calling for the State DEC to prevent Con Ed from draining the lake. Opponents of the proposed change also argue that the dam serves to prevent flooding in surrounding communities as swollen small streams flow into it and it diverts the excess water into the nearby Hudson River.
Any changes made to the lake must be approved by the State Public Service Commission (PSC) and a public hearing must first be held in the Town of Cortlandt.
The group has launched a petition drive opposing Con Ed's plan to drain Railroad Pond. To date, it has more than 500 signatures.
Saying the deal is "Not in the public interest," the State Public Service Commission Thursday rejected Entergy Corporation's plan to spin off its six nuclear power plants, including Indian Point, into a separate company.
The PSC said its primary reason for turning down the proposed deal is that the resulting company--Enexus Energy Corporation -- would be financially shaky.
Last month, the PSC said that because the three New York power plants cover 15 percent of the state's energy consumption, they cannot afford to fail. It says should the company became insolvent and be unable to operate the plant, the public would be affected and rates would go up. Entergy responded by restructuring debt and promising to restrict dividend payouts to shareholders. Despite the proposed changes, the PSC denied the request on Thursday. Entergy says its board will meet shortly and be briefed on the situation.
The New York State Public Service Commission today voted to adopt a three-year plan that establishes new electric service delivery rates for Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (Con Edison). To lessen the impact on customers, the plan calls for increases to be spread out over a three-year period. The annual levelized base rate increase would be $420.4 million, representing an annual increase of 3.6 percent on a system-wide total bill basis.
"We are always concerned about the impact of any rate increase on ratepayers, especially in these extraordinarily difficult economic times," said Commission Chairman Garry Brown. "The new electric rates that we have approved will provide levelized base rate increases, austerity measures, controls on capital expenditures, and other provisions to reduce economic burdens on hard-pressed consumers. This rate plan is in the public interest and is a testament to the extensive efforts by active parties to address key issues in an equitable and comprehensive manner."
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