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Aug 23, 2017 9:56 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Agency Says PSEG Followed Proper Protocol Prior To Pole Installation

The metal poles in Eastport.  PRESS FILE
Aug 23, 2017 10:29 AM

A state agency asked to review the steps taken by PSEG Long Island prior to installing some 175 towering metal poles between power substations in Riverside and Eastport this spring has determined that the utility followed all proper protocols before beginning the work.

In a letter dated Friday, August 18, and sent to State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Kenneth LaValle, State Department of Public Service Chair and Chief Executive Officer John Rhodes maintained that PSEG, a subcontractor to the Long Island Power Authority, followed correct procedure in forewarning officials in both Brookhaven and Southampton towns, as well as residents about the poles.

Both state representatives had requested that the office review the steps taken before the utility started work on the transmission line upgrades.

“PSEG LI specified that the capital project outreach process for the Riverhead to Eastport project included briefing impacted officials, a customer mailing and posting of project information on the PSEG LI website,” Mr. Rhodes’s letter reads.

On Tuesday, Mr. Thiele again said that neither he nor Mr. LaValle were alerted to the work before it began, even though it falls within their respective districts.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, whose municipality is suing PSEG over the installation, said the only notice he received from PSEG was during a brief meeting last summer that featured Town Board members and utility representatives. “It was completely general and unspecific,” he said. “They gave a broad five-year plan and didn’t say anything about the poles.”

The next time he was asked to a meeting with PSEG, the construction had already begun, according to the supervisor.

PSEG spokesperson Elizabeth Flagler said she cannot comment on any developments, citing the ongoing litigation.

Mr. Romaine characterized the letter mailed by PSEG to customers along the transmission route as misleading as well. “Those letters were completely unspecific,” he said. “I’m planning to file a complaint about it.”

Department of Public Service spokesperson James Denn did not respond to requests for comment.

Along with confirming that PSEG followed protocol before starting the project, the state department pins the price of burying the entire 7.2-mile transmission line at between $70 million and $100 million. Brookhaven Town officials have requested that PSEG bury a much shorter stretch, specifically the lines that run along Eastport Manor Road, a job that Mr. Rhodes’s letter prices between $5 million and $7.5 million.

Mr. Thiele said he thinks that the agency’s estimates are overblown.

“My own experience with cost estimates is that they do not want to bury the lines underground … so they overestimate the cost,” he said. “I’m not saying it won’t cost more [than aboveground lines] upfront, but they never calculate the cost over the lines’ lives—how much money is saved when they’re not destroyed in storms or hurricanes.”

Regardless, neither Mr. Thiele nor Mr. Romaine worry that Mr. Rhodes’s letter will hurt Brookhaven’s case in the ongoing legal battle, which notes, among other things, that PSEG did not follow proper State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA, guidelines before starting the work.

“The litigation is centered on PSEG’s SEQRA compliance, and the letter doesn’t even mention that,” Mr. Thiele said. “I don’t think the letter will have any impact.”

“There simply was no adequate environmental review,” added Mr. Romaine. “This is far from finished, and we’re focused on the litigation.”

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So, the local governments dropped the ball in notifying or protecting their bases? Weird.
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Aug 23, 17 10:16 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Aug 23, 17 10:59 AM
They should all be fired/ not elected. In Towns where you need a permit to go to the bathroom, in Towns where there are dark sky laws, ARB approval for everything and a general incursion in all aspects of development, they allowed this to go on. Criminal.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Aug 23, 17 11:00 AM
did anyone conducting the investigation talk to the Southampton Director of Municipal works who sent multiple requests to pseg for detail concerning this project? What about the 59 poles installed in Northampton? Don''t they count? This issue is not exclusive to Brookhaven.
By Lightwave (2), southampton on Aug 23, 17 12:35 PM