Members of Save East Hampton attended a LIPA Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday morning at the utility company’s headquarters in Uniondale.
The group of East Hampton residents presented their case against the installation of high-voltage utility poles on McGuirk Street and neighboring roads in the village, citing the poles’ negative impact on public safety, health and property values.
LIPA had initiated and received approval for the project from East Hampton Village last fall. However, the utility company lost most of its authority over Long Island’s electrical grid to PSEG Long Island after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s LIPA Reform Act, which took effect January 1.
Armed with a lengthy list of reasons as to why PSEG should bury the power lines and take the poles down, Save East Hampton’s co-chairwoman Helene Forst said she was surprised to hear that many of the LIPA board members were seemingly unaware of the project.
“If the board is really being honest, they basically said they didn’t know this was going on out here,” said Ms. Forst, who added that five of the nine members on the board were new appointees this year.
LIPA trustees, according to PSEG spokesperson Rebecca Singer, seemed alarmed by the photos of the poles and “… said they’d like to come out and take a look at it next week. They were very serious about looking into it.”
PSEG Long Island President David Daly said during the February 26 meeting that to bury the 6.2 miles of utility poles would cost roughly $30 million, plus the cost to uninstall the poles. The project, as it stands now, will cost about $7 million, according PSEG’s director of communications, Jeff Weir.
On February 21, Governor Cuomo announced the allocation of $1.4 billion in federal recovery funds to upgrade Long Island’s electrical grid. However, PSEG does not believe the project in East Hampton qualifies for the funding.
“Again, it’s our assertion that the project in East Hampton doesn’t qualify for that money, because it’s new construction,” Mr. Weir said. “If someone tells us otherwise, we’re more than happy to work with that, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in order to determine what’s a viable option in terms of who pays.”
Members of Save East Hampton, PSEG and the East Hampton Village Board and Town Board planned to discuss alternatives to the project during a meeting on Wednesday, March 5, at 2 p.m. at Town Hall. A representative from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office was initially supposed to attend the meeting but will not be able to. The public is invited to attend, but there will be no comment period.