Department of Public Service Calls PSEG Project In East Hampton ‘Necessary’

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The New York State Department of Public Service has deemed the ongoing PSEG Long Island project in East Hampton “necessary to ensure reliability of the electric system,” according to a memo from Michael Worden, deputy director of electric at the department, which calls for the project to be completed by summer 2014.

The utility company has been installing more than 260 utility poles throughout the town, as well as installing a 23/33-kilovolt transmission line from East Hampton to an Amagansett substation. PSEG has maintained the project is necessary to create a “reliable and redundant” electric system for its customers, especially with a heightened demand for electric come summertime.

The memo, which includes a reliability assessment for both the East Hampton transmission line project and a similar one in Port Washington, comes after a meeting between the department’s Chief Executive Officer Audrey Zibelman and local and state officials in East Hampton.

On April 4, the Department of Public Service announced that it would review the need for the East Hampton projects as well as investigate “alternative generation” in the area, asking the utility company whether additional electrical generation would be enough to ensure reliability instead of the project now under way.

According to the memo, the area impacted by the transmission line (East Hampton to Amagansett) is called the “east of Buell load pocket” (the western end of the project is at Buell Lane in East Hampton Village),which serves about 9,000 customers. At the peak of demand, the DPS forecasts the need for 36 megawatts in “normal weather conditions” and 40 megawatts in “extreme weather temperature conditions.”

Furthermore, the DPS states that the existing transmission line is nearly 60 years old and no longer in accordance with PSEG Long Island’s “transmission planning criteria,” “because the transmission system does not provide the necessary redundancy to ensure system reliability.”

The two lines in place now, according to the memo, would not be able to provide a redundant system, resulting in outages for customers and compromising the “electric reliability in the East of Buell load.” The memo says that could potentially leave 7,000 customers without electricity at the height of demand until repairs to “at least one of the two existing” transmission lines were completed. As for the height of the utility poles, which has prompted objections, the memo states that the poles are consistent with National Electric Safety Code construction standards, as is the voltage in the transmission line.

“We appreciate the department’s quick response in their review. Completing these transmission projects will ensure that our customers have the reliable electric service that they deserve this summer,” said PSEG Long Island’s director of communication Jeffrey Weir. “We take very seriously the department’s recommendations on our public outreach process and will continue to engage the community on these major projects.”

In order to complete the project by this summer, the utility company would need a stop-work order pertaining to the Amagansett substation to be lifted. The stop-work order was issued by East Hampton Town in April, after the town claimed PSEG did not have site plan approval or a building permit to perform work at the substation.

PSEG attempted to fight the stop-work order with a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. The restraining order was not granted by the State Supreme Court or the Supreme Court Appellate Division. As of last week, both parties had submitted all necessary paperwork for a judge at the State Supreme Court to rule on the preliminary injunction. As of press time, no decision had been rendered.

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