PSEG, East Hampton Village Discuss Burying Utility Lines

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PSEG Long Island, the public utility company that angered many residents in East Hampton Village and Amagansett by erecting 60-foot utility poles in front of their homes last year as part of a project to upgrade its electrical system, might now be willing to bury the wires underground, at least in the village, and to absorb some of the cost.

A PSEG spokesperson said last week that the company “could not confirm or deny” that the proposal was made. However, East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach Jr. said the company met with village officials on Friday, May 8, to discuss the proposal.

“We had a meeting. We will continue to have a dialogue and a discussion. It’s a work in progress,” Mr. Rickenbach said.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said he attended many meetings to try to convince the utility company to consider a better plan to alleviate some of the residents’ concerns about the tall poles, high-voltage wires and toxins used to treat the utility poles.

“They made a proposal to bury all wires in the village, and the cost would be split the same way it was in Southampton, where residents paid 50 percent and PSEG paid 50 percent,” he said, referring to deal struck in Southampton Town several years ago.

The specifics of the arrangement would be decided by PSEG and village officials, but, according to Mr. Thiele, the residents’ share of the cost could be added to their utility bills, or the village could create a tax district.

Village officials were not ready to talk about the negotiations. “The village has no comment on any discussion or specific proposals at this time,” East Hampton Village Administrator Becky Molinaro said last week.

Last year, residents in the village and Amagansett formed a group called Long Island Business for Responsible Energy to fight to have the poles in front of their homes removed. The group is currently suing PSEG, complaining that the poles were erected too close to their houses and have been treated with a toxic substance that could be dangerous to their health and safety.

“The agreement offered to us by PSEG is not satisfactory to Long Island Businesses for Responsible Energy Inc., because it does not respond fairly to our total legal and equitable claims on behalf of the owners and residents of the town and village,” said Helene Forst, chairwoman of the group. “We started and intend to pursue our litigation and advocacy for the benefit of all.”

In April of last year, in response to complaints from residents, East Hampton Town filed a stop-work order to halt work at PSEG’s substation in Amagansett that would connect 33-kilovolt transmission lines to the new system. The town had claimed the utility company’s site was in violation of local zoning laws, but a judge ruled that PSEG did not have to abide by those laws. The town is appealing that decision.

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