The Long Island Power Authority will replace 250 utility poles and add a new transmission line from East Hampton Village to Amagansett this winter to minimize service disruption, especially during storms. On Thursday, LIPA representatives, members of the East Hampton Village Board and residents met for a public information session about the planned pole replacement.
According to Robert Parkinson, LIPA’s regional project manager, the installation is likely to begin in January and would be finished by June 2014 at a cost of $16 million. The new poles, which can withstand 130 mph winds, will go in along a 6.2-mile stretch, from LIPA’s East Hampton substation on Cove Hollow Road to its Amagansett substation on Old Stone Highway.
Within East Hampton Village, 57 poles will be replaced on Cove Hollow Road, Buell Lane, Toilsome Lane, King Street and McGuirk Street. In East Hampton Town, new poles will be placed along Cedar Street, Collins Avenue, Accabonac Road, Town Lane and Old Stone Highway. More than 4,000 customers live from the East Hampton substation east to Montauk.
The new transmission line installed with the new poles will lessen the load on the existing transmission line and act as a backup in case it fails and will provide more reliable service, according to LIPA.
Usage on the South Fork is the highest on Long Island—each year since 2004, load growth has increased 3.5 percent, whereas the growth rate throughout the rest of Long Island has grown 1 percent each year, Mr. Parkinson said.
The new poles will be taller and thicker than the existing poles—45, 50 or 55 feet tall, depending on location—putting up a tougher fight against hurricane force winds.
“Hurricane Sandy only compounded it and heightened the fact that we can improve distribution,” Mr. Parkinson said about the decision to build up LIPA’s infrastructure. “The loss of a single tower results in a complete loss of supply” east of Amagansett, he said.
He said burying the lines would cost more than double what it will cost to replace the poles, and would not solve the problem of improving the transmission for those east living of the East Hampton substation.
While crews install the new line, there should be “virtually no disruption,” to service, Mr. Parkinson said. If crews have to replace a worn-out transformer, however, there may be a “small break” in service, he said.
“I’m talking minutes,” Mr. Parkinson said. “We make it protocol to always knock on the door to warn customers, but that is few and far between.”
Those who have a bothersome pole can request that LIPA crews install the new one up to 5 feet to the right or left of the old one, Mr. Parkinson said.
Just as the meeting was wrapping up on Thursday, Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said the whole intention of hosting the public information session was to keep an open dialogue with residents about the design plan.
“We don’t want anyone to be surprised when they see poles laying on the ground,” he said. “The Board of Trustees is in sync to move ahead with this, but let’s put the wheels in motion to start sooner rather than later.”
LIPA’s vice president of transmission and distribution operations, Nicholas Lizanich, said he would work with his team to get things rolling quickly.
“I can’t guarantee there will be no snow this winter, but we’ll take that challenge on,” he said. “Our intent is to get in and get out.”