PSEG’s plan to continue working on a seven-mile long overhead transmission line project in East Hampton while exploring the possibility of eventually running the line underground isn’t sitting well with the East Hampton community.
The group Save East Hampton: Safe, Responsible Energy is planning to hold a rally they’re calling an “informational festival” at the Hook Mill next Saturday, April 5.
From 1 to 3 p.m. at the green at the corner of North Main Street and Pantigo Road, they will be offering snacks, music and information about the project, as well as fundraising for their effort to get PSEG to stop work immediately on the overhead lines and prepare an alternate plan.
PSEG agreed in a meeting with the community March 5 to work on an alternate route for the transmission line, which has been strung on 60-foot tall poles through a series of backroads in East Hampton Village, sometimes just 20 feet from peoples’ bedroom windows, but they said later that they would only explore other options if the cost is paid for by East Hampton Town and Village.
In a letter to East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach on March 14, PSEG President David Daly said “all steps necessary to execute the projects described in this letter… will be subject to the Town/Village of East Hampton Paying PSEG Long Island for all costs that are incremental to the current 23/33 kV overhead pole-line project between East Hampton and Amagansett substations.”
“When the work is completed,” he added, “the Town/Village of East Hampton will have the right to review, though not to challenge, these incremental costs.”
Save East Hampton was none-too-pleased with this plan.
“It removes all options from The Town and Village, and gives them all to PSEG. It allows us to review but not challenge costs, it does not address alternatives we are currently negotiating with PSEG to Halt the Work on the Current Project at Once, by installing generators until the underground project is fully live in two years,” they said in a statement. “We do not want to go live on the 23/33K volt overhead poles ever. Our health, safety, environmental concerns, the reasons we are going underground in the first place, cannot be allowed overhead. This is a breach of trust and fails to live up to our intent.”
Mr. Cantwell, Mr. Rickenbach, Congressman Tim Bishop, State Senator Ken LaValle and State Assemblyman Fred Thiele responded on March 17 with a letter asking PSEG to consider a cost structure similar to one paid by Southampton residents who convinced LIPA to run a transmission line underground from Southampton Village to Bridgehampton in 2009.
In their letter, they estimated that it would cost $20 million to bury the line, in addition to $6.5 million already spent on the overhead project and $2.1 million needed to modify the overhead project if the lines were buried. They anticipated FEMA would pay $8.5 million toward the project.
The elected officials suggested rate payers in East Hampton pay half of the remaining $20.1 million through a special assessment on their electric bill, similar to the assessment charged in Southampton, while the other half be paid by PSEG.