PSEG Plans For Shelter Island, Incomparable To East Hampton Project

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PSEG Long Island on Tuesday announced its plan to install an electrical substation off Route 114 on Shelter Island come 2015.

The project, said PSEG spokesperson Jeffrey Weir, is to create a “redundant” electrical system on Shelter Island—the utility company’s primary reason for installing a high-voltage transmission line from East Hampton to Amagansett. But the two projects, said Mr. Weir, are “like comparing apples and oranges.”

The Shelter Island substation will “tie into” a preexisting, underwater electrical line that connects the North and South forks of Long Island to create a “reliable” system, said Mr. Weir in a phone interview on Wednesday. The island currently receives its main source of power from cables that run from Bridgehampton and Southold.

The substation would draw electricity from the high-voltage line, convert the power to a lower voltage, and distribute it throughout Shelter Island.

“They [Shelter Island] have all the generation and all the power they need,” said Mr. Weir. “But during the peak summer demand, there’s a risk, whereas in East Hampton, there is an all-the-time problem.”

The project would replace the need for a second underwater cable that runs from Shelter Island to Southold, according to a presentation by the utility company at a Shelter Island Town Board meeting on May 27.

The underwater cable failed once in 2012 and again last year while repairs were being made, said Mr. Weir. The cable created a “redundant” electrical system for the island and is currently out of commission, which is what prompted the new project, he said.

“We’re enhancing reliability in both situations,” said Mr. Weir. “But East Hampton never had redundant reliability. We’re adding an additional distribution line in East Hampton. On Shelter Island, they already have that. This is an alternate solution for Shelter Island.”

Residents in East Hampton have been protesting the 23/33-kilovolt transmission line since installation started in January, forming nonprofits like Save East Hampton and Long Island Businesses for Safe and Responsible Energy. But Shelter Island Town Supervisor James Dougherty said public opposition has been essentially non-existent on the island.

“We’re just beginning our dialogue with PSEG,” said Mr. Dougherty in a phone interview. “The meeting was open to the public, but it was lightly attended. It’s too early to tell what people’s reactions will be.”

The site for the substation could consist of 1 acre off Shady Lane by Route 114. The location is “adjacent to an existing transmission and distribution line,” according to the presentation, “minimizing any other work on Shelter Island.” Mr. Dougherty said the property is currently vacant and frequently used by police to retain impounded cars.

The Shelter Island project will cost between $10 million and $12 million, which will be dispersed among ratepayers across Long Island, said Mr. Weir.

“It’s part of our capital improvement plan,” he said, adding that while ratepayers are technically footing the bill, they will not see a spike in their electric bills to cover the cost.

PSEG is scheduled to continue talking with the Town of Shelter Island as early as this week, said Mr. Dougherty. The utility company will need to acquire the proper approval and permitting to continue with the project, said Mr. Weir.

The project is tentatively scheduled to begin in September 2015 and be complete by summer 2016.

In order to ensure Shelter Island has the proper reliability for the upcoming season, portable generators are being reinstalled for this summer, as they were last summer, according to the presentation. The generators will provide 12 megawatts of electricity for the summer, said Mr. Weir.

“It’s dramatically less than what would be required in East Hampton in terms of a temporary demand,” he said, explaining that the generator solution in East Hampton would not be an option.

The transmission line in East Hampton was slated to be complete prior to the summer 2014 season but has been halted since April due to a stop-work order the town issued against PSEG. In turn, the utility company filed a permanent restraining order against the town, which is still before a judge at the State Supreme Court in Riverside. A determination has not yet been made.

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