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October 20, 2009

New Yorkers urged to vote yes on Tri-Lakes power project

TUPPER LAKE — New York Power Authority President and CEO Richard Kessel stood under new 46-kilovolt power lines here, urging New York voters to approve Proposition 1 on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The proposition for a constitutional amendment would finalize state procedure to support new power lines that have already been run 23 miles at a cost of $30 million.

The Tri-Lakes Reliability Project started more than two years ago to update electric service to Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.

"People don't know there's a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would allow us to do what we've already done," Kessel said.

LAND SWAP

The power upgrade passed twice through state lawmakers, as is the constitutional requirement for any exchange in Adirondack Park land. Now, it must be approved by voters.

National Grid traded 43 acres of wilderness property for six acres of state land needed to run the wires without disturbing miles of pristine, old-growth forest and spruce-grouse habitat.

Power company President Tom King released a statement at the event, calling the project "necessary to ensure the health and safety of area residents, especially during severe winter weather."

Other state agencies, including the Adirondack Park Agency, urged voters in unison to vote yes on the ballot.

And the amendment has the support of environmental groups, including the Adirondack Council.

BEATING BROWNOUTS

Tupper Lake customers are expected to pay $3.2 million toward the project and Lake Placid rate-payers another $6.5 million.

Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said "installation of this line has given Lake Placid the assurance we can continue to meet the needs of our users without unexpected brownouts or blackouts."

Both Randall and Tupper Lake Mayor Mickey Desmarais called the power upgrade "critical for economic growth."

SPREADING WORD

But the State Power Authority has not disseminated information about the constitutional vote very far outside the North Country.

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