The New York State Department of Public Service said in a letter to East Hampton Town on Wednesday that it would conduct a review of the electric reliability issues in East Hampton claimed by PSEG Long Island, the utility company’s sole reasoning for installing a high-voltage transmission line through the town.
PSEG is in the process of installing more than 260 taller, wider utility poles throughout East Hampton Village and Town, as well as a 23/33 kV transmission line as part of its plan to “harden” Long Island’s electrical grid and provide “reliable and redundant” power to its ratepayers.
The letter came out of a meeting between Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., State Senator Kenneth P. Lavalle and Public Service Commissioner Audrey Zibelman on April 4, where the local and state officials expressed their concerns about the recent project.
“I appreciate Ms. Zibelman’s interest in the project that’s of concern here,” said Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell in a phone interview on Wednesday. “She said she would respond in writing with our concerns in terms of what she thought her department’s role would be in reviewing the PSEG transmission line project as well of what the future plans might be for transmission lines and power sources on the South Fork going forward.”
According to Ms. Zibelman, the reliability review will be completed by April 30. Pending its results, the department will gauge how plausible it is to stop the project.
“I’m pleased she asked to meet with us and wants to get involved in reviewing the situation,” added Mr. Cantwell.
The Department of Public Service will also conduct a study of the incremental costs associated with burying the transmission line, according to the letter. It is slated to be finished by mid-May.
As of now, PSEG said it will cost roughly $30 million to bury the line, in addition to the cost to modify the 260-plus taller, wider utility poles. According PSEG’s Director of Communication Jeffrey Weir, modification would include cutting the tops off, making them shorter, or take them down entirely and replace them with new, smaller poles.
“We always welcome comments from the Department of Public Service and we believe they’re asking the right questions,” said PSEG Long Island’s Director of Communications Jeffrey Weir. “The projects that are being evaluated by the DPS enhance the reliability and resiliency of the electric service for our customers in the Town of East Hampton and the Town of North Hempstead. That said, we stand ready to underground the transmission lines in both towns provided those towns fund it at their own expense without any increased cost to the rest of Long Island’s rate payers.”
Lastly, the Department of Public Service says it plans to assess “alternative generation” in the area, asking the utility company whether or not additional electrical generation would be enough to compensate for reliability. It will also investigate the process in which elected officials and members of the public were informed of the project.