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Jan 4, 2019 7:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

PSEG Will Bury Hated Power Lines In Eastport, Remove 24 Steel Poles

PSEG has said it will bury 24 of the storm hardened steel utility poles it installed in 2017 in Eastport.
Jan 9, 2019 10:42 AM

Town and state lawmakers have brokered a deal with PSEG Long Island to bury much-maligned overhead transmission lines along a one-mile stretch of Eastport Manor Road in Eastport by 2020.

Officials from the utility said that they have agreed to bury the lines along the stretch of road between the Sunrise Highway south service road and the PSEG substation in Eastport, removing 24 steel “storm-hardened” utility poles that have drawn outcry from residents since they were installed without public notification in 2017.

PSEG estimates the cost of the work to be between $9 million and $13.5 million, which will come out of its existing capital budget and will not create an incremental increase for ratepayers, according to Elizabeth Flagler, the utility’s head of external communications.

In total, the seven-mile project included 200 steel poles, beginning at the Eastport substation on Montauk Highway, running north on Eastport Manor Road, also known as County Road 55, then continuing along County Road 51 and a Long Island Power Authority right-of-way to the Northampton substation.

The poles range from 70 to 110 feet in height, two to three times as tall as a typical utility pole, and are made of octagonal steel panels rather than wood.

Although this week’s decision affects only about 12 percent of the steel poles, Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico said that the ones being removed have been the source of the highest number of complaints.

“County Road 55 has always been the location where we have received the majority of the complaints, especially in the business district and historic district,” Mr. Panico said. “That was really the epicenter for the outcry over this massive installation.”

According to PSEG, the decision to remove the poles and bury the lines on Eastport Manor Road satisfies local concerns and ends pending litigation. “This undergrounding balances local concerns and promotes a consistent, fair standard for undergrounding electric service,” LIPA CEO Thomas Falcone said in a statement released by PSEG on Friday evening.

“When it comes to County Road 55, a wrong is being righted for the residents of Eastport,” said Mr. Panico, who represents the Eastport area. “The vast majority of people that I have spoken to in the advent of this announcement are pleased that the lines will be buried and the poles will be coming down.”

Utility officials had pledged to look into burying some of the lines that run through downtown Eastport earlier this year and said on Friday that negotiations with State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman had led to the agreement announced this week.

“PSEG Long Island is a local company that cares about our communities and eagerly worked closely with local and state elected officials and community leaders,” the utility’s COO, Dan Eichhorn, said in a statement. “This solution upholds our commitment to provide safety, reliability and customer satisfaction, while keeping costs as low as possible.”

“Communities want to see transmission and distribution lines underground,” Mr. Thiele said. “We have never had a public controversy or complaint about burying lines. We want to encourage LIPA and PSEG Long Island to do more undergrounding projects.”

However, Mr. Falcone said in August that overhead construction with robust tree-trimming is more reliable and cost-effective. As such, most of the power lines are above ground on Long Island. He contends it would be a multibillion-dollar project to bury transmission lines for distribution. And while the weather may not impact underground lines as severely, when there is a problem, it is a much greater task to make repairs.

PSEG will use its Eastport substation property south of Montauk Highway as a staging area for the project, where they will park all necessary equipment and vehicles, according to Mr. Panico.

“I intend on suggesting heavily to PSEG to work with the community directly with regard to work that is necessary to screen the substation,” Mr. Panico said. “The eventual screening and landscaping of the front of that portion, which right now is wide open, is also of importance to the residents.”

Although the compromise was made, the issue is not over for those who oppose the remaining steel poles. Mr. Panico said that other elected officials have cited other issues with the poles in other locations.

Mr. Schneiderman said he would be working with his counterparts in Brookhaven to push for the removal of the remaining poles as well.

“I will be working with Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine on that issue regarding the remaining poles and how we should proceed,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “We were happy to lend our support, but I think this is a big victory for Brookhaven and Supervisor Romaine as well as Assemblyman Thiele and Senator LaValle.”

Community leaders remain active as well.

“Part of the major problem is the safety of poles on County Road 51,” said Roy Reynolds, president of the East Moriches Property Owners Association. “They’re located about 3 feet off the pavement. They’re supposed to be anywhere from 26 to 30 feet off the traveled roadway. When they put the poles up, they disregarded the national standard of highway safety.”

Mr. Reynolds added that his association is working with Mr. Romaine to put pressure on local, county and state officials to resolve safety concerns with the poles.

“Unfortunately, probably the only option is to put up some sort of protective barriers around the poles,” he said.

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Good solution - wonder how much money it cost to install, then hire attorneys and now remove and bury?
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Jan 4, 19 10:52 PM
When you'll ultimately be paying for it anyway, does it really matter to them how much it cost?
By Paramarine (28), Raleigh, NC on Jan 5, 19 2:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
Take it out of board pay outs not the tax payers of Long Island.
By Mr.007 (4), Riverhead on Jan 5, 19 10:58 AM
The people have spoken. Unity will always win. United voices will always be strong..
By unclemilt (57), southampton on Jan 5, 19 1:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
If they are doing that will they forgive the Visual Benefits Tax we are all paying for them to bury the lines on Head of Pond Road??? Why is Eastport getting a free ride?? Eliminate the VBT form my tax bill.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jan 5, 19 4:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Touche, North Sea Citizen. Will a visual benefit be charged to Eastport residents for burying the lines like we get charged for the lines in Water Mill?
By auntof9 (159), Southampton on Jan 6, 19 12:54 PM
Save Eastport bury the poles. Historic district, no notification to residents.
By emos (4), brookhaven on Jan 6, 19 6:33 PM
You do know the roads are now going to be perpetually torn up/opened to fix every little problem.
By Preliator Lives (437), Obamavillie on Jan 7, 19 8:56 AM
I'm happy to pay the VBA on my electric bill in North Sea for the buried power lines along Scuttlehole -- it works out to two dollars a month or so. I'd like many more buried power lines and would be glad to pay my small share for the aesthetic and storm-preparedness advantages.
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Jan 7, 19 10:35 AM
Just a note to all... I've had buried power lines in my neighborhood since the early 2000's... We have just as many if not more power outages during storms. My family has been left for dead by LIPA/PSEG on multiple occasions including when out-of-state linemen intentionally downed my neighborhood's power for over a week so that they could create repair work to fill their pockets
By DisgustedHamptons (58), Hampton Bays on Jan 8, 19 4:45 AM
Nobody is getting a free ride not only are the poles a hazard along 51 as steel will not snap as wood does but PSEG was REQUIRED to bury the lines all along 51 any new work was mandated to be buried, in the past a small electrical project was buried PSEG used there power to disregard doing a project the way they should have, they trampled citizens rights and people defend them for it under the pretense well we need power which maybe we did but do the right thing all 200 poles need to be removed, ...more
By Patriot1776 (4), Manorville on Jan 10, 19 2:56 PM
Agree with Patriot 1776 100%, thank you.

A friend was reviewing the lawsuit, it appears the highway work permits for the poles and a completed environmental impact study cannot be located. PSEG has a problem.

Remove the poles bury the lines.

By emos (4), brookhaven on Jan 12, 19 11:45 AM