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Mar 11, 2014 2:43 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

PSEG Will Bury Transmission Line If East Hampton Town Foots The Bill

Mar 11, 2014 3:09 PM

PSEG Long Island has agreed to bury the high-voltage transmission line on McGuirk Street and neighboring roads within the next 16 months—if East Hampton Town officials can come up with the funding to do so.

In the meantime, the utility company will continue its current project of installing 260-plus utility poles and a 33-kilovolt transmission line from East Hampton to Amagansett, PSEG director of communications Jeffrey Weir said on Monday morning.

The agreement stemmed from a closed-door meeting of representatives of the utility company, the citizen activist group Save East Hampton, and local and state elected officials held on Friday afternoon to discuss the option of burying the transmission line and determining how the project could be funded.

“During the meeting, we came up with the framework to help the town, the village and the residents to come up with the funding,” said Mr. Weir. “We’ll assist them in securing that [funding] in any way possible, but we’re not going to take on any additional costs to Long Island ratepayers outside of East Hampton.”

Mr. Weir stressed that “going underground” would not mean McGuirk or other streets would be entirely without utility poles.

“We would bury just the transmission line,” he said. “The utility poles host more than just our electrical wires, and it would take an immense amount of coordination to get all of those entities to agree.”

To bury the transmission line would cost about $30 million, Mr. Weir had said previously, plus the cost of taking down or modifying the poles. The remedy to the poles, he added, would be to either cut the tops off, making them shorter, or take them down entirely and replace them with new, smaller poles. All of those costs would have to be paid for by grants, by the town, or be absorbed by the residents in East Hampton Town.

Southampton Town officials struck a deal in 2008 with the Long Island Power Authority to bury 7.5 miles of a transmission line between Southampton and Sag Harbor after residents complained about the impact on vistas. The town levied a special tax assessment to cover the $11.1 million additional cost, which is paid by 2,800 residents in areas directly impacted by the line.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said that although deciding how the project would be funded is premature, any proposal for funding would be subject to public hearings and “need a great deal of community involvement.”

The utility company and the town are also looking into using some of the $1.4 billion given to New York State by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to upgrade Long Island’s electrical grid, as discussed in a public roundtable discussion by representatives of PSEG, Save East Hampton, Mr. Cantwell and Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. on March 5 at Town Hall.

FEMA, which gave the state 90 percent of the $1.4 billion, “has very strict rules and told me this [project] wouldn’t qualify, but we need to push that,” said PSEG Long Island President and Chief Operating Officer David Daly during the meeting in front of more than 100 attendees. “Perhaps there’s other grant money from New York State, and we need to pursue that.”

During the public meeting last Wednesday, Save East Hampton representative Jeremy Samuelson asked Mr. Daly to halt the project for the next two days, saying, “You’re asking for trust—give us a reason to trust you.”

“Our community feels violated,” Mr. Samuelson said. “A lot changes in two days. I’m going to ask you to sit for just a moment on a very simple, humble request that is moderate but very powerful.” He proceeded to extend his hand to Mr. Daly, who respectfully declined.

PSEG is examining three alternative routes for the transmission line, according to a release from Save East Hampton about Friday’s meeting, and the designs will be subject to public comment to identify the most “resilient and cost-effective” route.

The utility company plans to issue a public letter promising to finish the new poles and the transmission line as well as to bury the transmission line if East Hampton can come up the money, according to a statement from Save East Hampton. A tentative meeting between PSEG and the groups is scheduled for the end of March.

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Where do we as homeowners get to vote on this? I couldn't give a damn about these poles, I'd rather see them go up vs my bill going up!
By Photoman (10), East hampton on Mar 10, 14 1:32 PM
2 members liked this comment
Your vote has been tabulated . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 10, 14 1:42 PM
Thank you
By Photoman (10), East hampton on Mar 10, 14 4:36 PM
The cost will be well worth it. Those poles are so ugly.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Mar 10, 14 4:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
Not one person who lives on or visits the East End is "unaffected by (the) visuals" of the massive poles polluting the aerial landscape (including the unbuilt Water Mill poles years ago).

We are a tourist area, and it is likely that the financial analysis here stopped short of assessing the costs of tall poles on tourism, and the long-term benefits of burying the lines (such as removing them as exposed targets for future Superstorms like Sandy.

What happened here was certainly ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 10, 14 7:05 PM
And hopefully PSEG will recognize that it has a public relations deficit balance inherited from LILCO, LIPA, NatGrid, and so forth.

Hurricane season is just over the horizon.

By its actions here PSEG will be sending a signal both of its preparedness for another Sandy, and of its long-term vision for anticipating problems (wind and tree damage to the electrical infrastructure for instance).
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 10, 14 7:11 PM
And we will all receive a benefit for the additional costs.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 11, 14 1:04 PM
Marlin what is the additional cost per homeonwner? Im sure spread out over 10 years the cost is nominal. Is the cost spread out over the whole town or just the village?

Im sure the motel owners and people holding summe rental properties will be sad to hear that this is no longer a tourist area
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Mar 12, 14 10:28 AM
When they extended the line down Head of Pond road, all the neighbors were up in arms, so they buriedit at a cost of $10,000,000 and we have to pay for it. A Visual Benefits Tax has been added to our bills.....
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Mar 10, 14 3:13 PM
The cost of burying the lines was probably worth it, for reasons discussed above.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 10, 14 7:13 PM
These wood poles look like we are from John Wayne times! I went to rural eastern European countries and they have concrete poles.We are 100 years behind with these poles!
By dany (33), Water Mill on Mar 10, 14 7:15 PM
Not worth it as a surcharge to bury - as a Town resident. But please, Larry, Deb, and the "D"'s - ask Village residents to take a vote and pay for it themselves as a "district", as SH did. Am totally in favor of putting in the 22 (!!) more poles - wherever they may be. Have seen them all over Village and Town now that this has become a "hot button" issue - or should I say "joke", "ploy" or "now I know nothing and am dumb" news item - and am not "so offended" buy the sight. Would rather have ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 11, 14 8:28 PM
BTW - "buy the sight" was not a typo. The "vistas" are something I enjoy - 10-12 feet higher are not a "spoiler" in my world. Call the governor! Blame someone else! Pay for it out of taxpayers dollars! It's what WE want ....."D" politics at its worst, and usual.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Mar 11, 14 8:36 PM
Not sure why people think of poles as eyes ores, they never stopped people from renting on my street. In fact you dont really see them because of the trees. No one even thinks about them until the lines come down after a nor'easter or hurricane. Then there's a lot of coulda shoulda woulda, but such is the way of life out east.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 17, 14 11:54 AM
Not sure why people think of poles as eyes ores, they never stopped people from renting on my street. In fact you dont really see them because of the trees. No one even thinks about them until the lines come down after a nor'easter or hurricane. Then there's a lot of coulda shoulda woulda, but such is the way of life out east.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 17, 14 12:04 PM
Are we still paying for the debacle @ Shoreham too?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 18, 14 10:56 PM
Just so everyone specifically knows what they are commenting on...With regards to the LIPA surcharge to bury the lines in Southamptons/Water Mill/Bridgehampton a few years ago, the surcharge was clearly labeled on the bill (as opposed to rate hikes, that are a totally separate issue), and was a nominal amount, approximately $3-5 dollars/month based on actual usage...Certainly not a "massive" cost.
By TheWaterMillian (34), Water Mill on Mar 19, 14 12:48 PM
As a Water Mill resident, I reluctantly supported the LIPA surcharge at the time. Reluctant in that, I would rather not have to pay any surcharge at all...But, when given the choice between seeing huge, metal power lines along the beautiful country back roads of my town, or paying a couple of extra dollars a month to have them buried...I chose to support paying a little bit more to have them buried. And now, several years later, the rate hikes have pissed me off a lot more than the actual surcharge. ...more
By TheWaterMillian (34), Water Mill on Mar 19, 14 12:48 PM
Isn't it better in the long run to have the lines buried? Hurricanes and noreasters cause trees and power lines to come down. LIPA/PSEG then has to call in power trucks from all over the country to repair the lines. After Hurricane Sandy, I saw crews all over the place for weeks repairing damage to downed wires. It's stupid and shortsighted NOT to bury the lines. It will cost more and more money over the years if you keep stupidly stringing them up.
By btdt (449), water mill on Mar 19, 14 8:27 PM
Thinking back to Sandy, I had the privilege of speaking with more than a few of the out of town crews at length. To put it bluntly, our grid was considered a laughingstock.

Not that it should be a surprise.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 20, 14 10:42 PM