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Jun 14, 2017 10:01 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Brookhaven Town Wants PSEG To Remove Metal Poles In Eastport; Utility Has Other Upgrades Planned

FEMA Electric Circuit Improvement Projects
Jun 14, 2017 10:18 AM

Brookhaven Town officials are demanding that PSEG remove all of the 70-foot-tall metal poles recently installed along Eastport Manor Road in Eastport, as part of ongoing infrastructure upgrades also targeting the County Road 51 corridor.

In a letter sent to Eastport residents and dated June 7, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine and Sixth District Town Councilman Dan Panico stated that they recently met with PSEG officials to express their disgust with the metal poles that replaced shorter and wooden poles in the hamlet. In their jointly signed letter, Mr. Romaine and Mr. Panico said the town is considering retaining legal counsel if the utility refuses to remove the metal poles along Eastport Manor Road, between Sunrise and Montauk highways, and bury the lines.

“The Town of Brookhaven was never briefed on this matter, and the issue is far too important to simply accept the flawed notion that nothing can be done,” their letter states.

They also note in their letter that the town has no authority over PSEG, though they are still hopeful that they can convince the utility to at least bury the short stretch of lines that run from the power station to Sunrise Highway. The document states that the two sides met on June 6, and will meet again within the next two weeks to discuss the situation.

“In addition to building a stronger, safer and more reliable electric system, PSEG Long Island is committed to improving customer satisfaction,” said Jeffrey Weir, spokesperson for PSEG. “We’ve heard the concerns of local residents and recently had a positive and productive meeting with officials from the Town of Brookhaven and representatives from Eastport. We are developing solutions to address the visual impact of certain sections of the line and will come back to the town with options in two weeks.”

On Monday, John O’Connell, the vice president of transmission and distribution at PSEG, said the burial of the lines is one option being considered. He also noted that the metal poles could be painted to make them more visually appealing—though town officials are seeking a different solution.

Mr. O’Connell noted the work, which includes upgrading the transmission line running between Riverhead and Eastport, is nearly complete, with the exception of removing the old wooden poles and relocating some of the lines.

Those upgrades are part of a $513 million initiative that seeks to address growing demands for electricity across the South Fork, while also making the grid more resilient against future storms, Mr. O’Connell said. That work is expected to begin in 2019 and continue through 2026.

Mr. O’Connell said this week that two of those projects call for burying some of the power lines between substations running between the Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays and Southampton Village, and those running between Bridgehampton and Buell Lane in East Hampton. Other work includes doubling the amount of power, from 69 kilovolts to 138 kilovolts, in the transmission line running between Wildwood Lake in Northampton and Riverhead, and the installation of two new 138-kilvolt lines—which would be buried—between Riverhead and the Shinnecock Canal, according to PSEG officials.

Those lines would continue east from the canal to Wainscott, they added. Additionally, five transmission lines in East Hampton Town would see their capacity increased from 23 kilovolts to 33 kilovolts.

Mr. O’Connell would not rule out the possibility of PSEG installing additional 70-foot-tall metal poles as part of those planned upgrades.

Before any of that work begins, Mr. O’Connell added, PSEG officials intend to discuss their plans with both Southampton and East Hampton town officials. He also said the cost of the projects will be rolled into PSEG customer bills over time, though he did not have the specific dollar amounts or percentages.

“We try to balance impact upon rates,” Mr. O’Connell said. “Our goal is to mitigate rate impact and have stable reasonable rates and try to balance the needs within that goal.

Though it is not included as part of the half-billion dollars in planned upgrades, PSEG is also continuing to bolster the power grid by using money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program. New York State secured more than $729 million for those upgrades, though it was not specified how much is being spent on the South Fork.

Some of those funds have already been used to replace older wooden poles in Quogue Village with new taller and thicker wooden versions. That work began in January and has since expanded to include Westhampton Beach, East Quogue and Hampton Bays. Utility trucks have been spotted along Montauk Highway in those hamlets, installing the taller wooden poles and new transmission lines. Crews will avoid working on Fridays and on weekends in the summer.

PSEG also intends to install the newer wooden poles in the Village of North Haven, Bridgehampton, Noyac and unincorporated sections of Sag Harbor Village, though that work has been delayed until at least after the summer, Mr. Weir said during a prior interview, after residents began urging PSEG to bury at least some of the lines.

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2 things jump out to me about this:
1) how could the ultilty company commence a project of this scope without approval.
2) why would the town allow all the poles erected before reacting.

Above that where is the financial cost and what is the differential verses underground installation.

Pure logic, simple questions and how is it that anyone with a modicum of sanity can ask these questions and yet look at what we have out there.....
In light of that we are going to ...more
By Rayman (64), southampton on Jun 14, 17 12:12 PM
I don't know about there, but they popped up very quickly here. Did you ever see anything that said this was happening before it happened?
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jun 14, 17 8:01 PM
What about extending the natural gas line as was promised years ago. This would reduce the demand for electrical power as many of us would happily convert to gas for our kitchen,laundry, deck grills, and heated pools. . Safer and cleaner than what we are currently doing with propane tanks on our decks and underground tanks for all other gas uses.
By Rburg (1), NYC on Jun 14, 17 1:11 PM
Amen! People on N. Bay Ave. have been begging for the gas line in Eastport! Bring it east!!!
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Jun 15, 17 12:46 PM
Brookhaven Town... Where you been???
Little too late... Just let the taxpayers pay to do it over again. Southampton did it...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Jun 14, 17 1:46 PM
1 member liked this comment
Can't imagine the "soft costs" of this project. PSEG outsourced this project to Northern Utilities to do all of the actual pole installations and line re-routings. However, there was no shortage of PSEG "supervisors" supervising" the newspaper and sandwiches in their vehicles. How about some investigative reporting on the labor costs of the utilities like PSEG and Nat. Grid and their wasteful ways??
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Jun 15, 17 2:27 PM
What a bunch of mooks. So after 70 of these space needles go up finally it's not ok? I'm not affected by them directly but like someone said, too little, too late. The cost of redoing almost doesn't justify it. Someone at the Town of Brookhaven was sleeping at the wheel...
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Jun 15, 17 4:29 PM
The irony is that these poles were installed to serve their community! So which is worse, cry now because of the poles, or cry when the big storm comes and they have no power? I will concede that they were quite a shock visually when I first encountered them.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Jun 16, 17 9:55 AM