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Aug 9, 2017 9:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Agency Agrees To Review Legality Of Power Line Upgrades In Eastport

Poles in Eastport.
Aug 9, 2017 9:53 AM

The state Department of Public Service, which oversees and regulates both PSEG-Long Island and the Long Island Power Authority, has agreed to take a closer look at the legality of the installation of enormous metal poles in the hamlet of Eastport, work that was completed without any notice to residents and Brookhaven Town officials.

In a letter dated August 2, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Panico asked the state agency to review recent upgrades completed by PSEG in which the utility installed 175 metal poles, ranging in height from 70 feet and 110 feet, along a 7.2-mile stretch of transmission line running between substations in Riverhead and Eastport. State Senator Kenneth LaValle and State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. filed similar requests with the same department last month.

The upgrades were completed this spring without PSEG holding any public hearings or considering of aesthetic impacts of the work, state and town officials said this week, suggesting that the utility purposely skirted agency rules. Brookhaven Town officials are also suing PSEG and LIPA—the latter of whom served as lead agency for the project and deemed the new metal poles would not have a “significant adverse impact on the environment”—arguing that they were never consulted even though all of Eastport Manor Road falls within their municipality. LIPA’s ruling allowed the installation to proceed without requiring an in-depth environmental assessment of the project’s potential impact.

“Besides the lawsuit, we’re filing a complaint that they didn’t follow the procedures of the Public Service Department, which is an arm of the Public Service Commission, in providing adequate information to the town,” Mr. Romain said on Friday.

James Denn, the public information officer for the Department of Public Service, said this week that the agency is still reviewing the request, and will not release any information until that examination is completed.

PSEG spokesperson Elizabeth Flagler said she cannot comment on the latest development citing the ongoing litigation.

It was not immediately clear what action the state regulatory agency could take against PSEG and LIPA.

“We have not gotten any response yet from the Department of Public Service other than an acknowledgment email from one of the commissioners,” Mr. Thiele said.

Both he and other elected officials noted that the state agency failed to live up to earlier promises that included working with PSEG to ensure that the utility is following proper protocol, as well as alerting all interested parties and keeping them adequately informed, before taking on larger projects and line upgrades.

Additionally, Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle said they intend to introduce legislation this week in Albany that would force LIPA to notify the public of any utility transmission upgrades prior to construction, and also provide a list of alternatives. Environmental impacted reports would also be required under the proposed legislation.

“In projects constructed in both East Hampton and Eastport, the lack of public notice and involvement has resulted in citizen litigation against the utilities which is costly to ratepayers and avoidable if the public had been involved before construction was initiated,” the memo accompanying the bill reads.

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Remind me again -- LIPA set up by Cuomo the Elder to pay off the cost of Shoreham Nuclear Power plant after Three Mile Island reminded everyone that nuclear power plants were dangerously complex machines which were a bad idea for an island with limited egress. That was over 40 years ago.

Why are we still stuck with LIPA? And why are we still stuck with a Governor Cuomo?
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Aug 9, 17 12:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
And then Andy boy went and gave another sweetheart deal to PSEG and our rates have gone up dramatically ever since, with no relief in sight. LILCO, LIPA, PSEG LI, CUOMOS
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Aug 9, 17 1:05 PM
Where's Southampton Town on this one? Not Hamptonsy enough for them?
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Aug 9, 17 1:37 PM
If PSEG and LIPA lose, the poles come down. Rates sky rocket and we lose again.
We get a reported storm and they ship crews from all over and costs MILLIONS to the rate payers. If I did that I would be fired.
If the government ran crime, even crime wouldn't pay...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Aug 12, 17 6:15 PM