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Rochester

Family Farm Fighting Utility Company's Plans

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Rochester: Family Farm Fighting Utility Company's Plans
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A farm family from Chili involved in a battle over a utility's plan to take 80 acres of land to build a new power line received a boost from a well-connected Washington politician Tuesday. The farmers worry the project could disrupt a way of life that's spanned generations.

"You have to have a strong faith. There's a lot beyond your control," said Marie Krenzer.

That's a sentiment shared by most every farmer.

"You can't control the weather. You can't control the market."

Control what you can, and have faith in the notion that the rest will work out.

"I was born and raised on a farm not far from here, so I don't know any better," Marie said.

Marie and David Krenzer farm 670 acres in the town of Chili.

"We're about 75 percent corn."

In those fields, there is something else you can't miss. The power transmission lines have been here since the early 1950s.

"As the equipment has grown and the farm has grown and things get wider and bigger, it's gotten more cumbersome and we can't farm around those."

The Krenzers, like most other farmers – like most people – rely on electricity, but when Rochester Gas and Electric proposed building new transmission lines and a substation smack in the middle of their corn field, the Krenzers were stunned.

It's not that they oppose RG&E's $250 million plan to string 25 miles of new transmission line; just how the utility, and parent company Iberdrola are going about it.

"We said, you know what? It's not constructed yet. We're going to stand up and do what we can to fight it."

The Krenzer's now have a powerful ally in that fight.

"I've always believed in our farms," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York.

Schumer says he too supports the need of the utility, but he says he'll call the head of Iberdrola personally, to ask that the utility find a better route.

"What is so frustrating here is that this is one of those situations where you can have your cake and eat it too," Schumer said.

RG&E wants to take 80 acres of the Krenzer's land through eminent domain.

"How do you put a price on forever?" asked Marie.

The Krenzers didn't even find out about the utility's plans until after regulators already approved them.

"We're like, man. How did we miss this?"

The Krenzers have already won one fight in this battle. Earlier this month, the state Public Service Commission said it would reconsider it's earlier approval of the transmission line.

Rochester Gas and Electric says it's "committed to working with all concerned parties to find an acceptable solution" while keeping the project on track.

"The process wasn't right, so we decided to stand up against it," said Marie.

The Krenzers say they have faith that a way of life for four generations will continue, uninterrupted.

"Who knows? We've never been through this before but we certainly are hopeful that common sense will prevail here."

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