Protesters rally against planned power poles in Port Washington

Residents For A More Beautiful Port Washington protest Residents For A More Beautiful Port Washington protest the ongoing PSEG Long Island Port Washington to Great Neck overhead transmission, Sunday, March 23, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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More than 70 people rallied Sunday against a plan by PSEG Long Island to install high-voltage power cables on 85-foot poles in Port Washington, and a local official encouraged opponents to contact Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office.

"I know you're angry. Please direct your anger in the right place," said Dina De Giorgio, a North Hempstead Town councilwoman who represents Port Washington, as protesters gathered in the hamlet near several utility poles. "Gov. Cuomo is the entity that can put pressure on LIPA, who can put pressure on PSEG to deal with us fairly."

Most of those at the rally, organized by the advocacy group Residents For A More Beautiful Port Washington, held signs with "Governor Cuomo Where Are You?" written on one side and "No!" on the other.

"Governor Cuomo, we need your help . . . we need your attention," Curtis V. Trinko, chairman of the group, said at the protest through a megaphone.

He said the plan to put more than 30 poles up with high-voltage cables and "aggressive tree hacking" was unacceptable "especially with no notice, no dialogue and no exploration of alternatives."

Officials at the governor's office were not available for comment Sunday night.

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Protesters want PSEG to stop the project and instead install the cables underground as way to reduce potential health risks caused by electromagnetic radiation and avoid damage to poles in a major storm.

The issue will be up for discussion Monday night at 7 when residents, government officials and PSEG representatives attend an information session at Harbor Links Clubhouse in Port Washington. PSEG Long Island is installing a new five-mile overhead section of power lines through Port Washington that will eventually extend through several communities before reaching Great Neck. The utility plans to put one mile of cable underground in Thomaston.

The additional lines are needed because of growing demand and the need to boost reliability, PSEG officials said. PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the utility would be open to eventually putting the cables underground but the town would "have to come up with the money."

He said putting the power cables underground could cost as much as $4 million to $6 million per mile.

The specifics of how to pay for eventually removing the poles and putting the cables underground has not been determined.

De Giorgio has said she will propose hiring a consultant to study the cost of putting power cables underground.

De Giorgio also said last week she hopes to find funding from the state or federal government to pay for underground cables.

"I'm not accepting that the ratepayer has to pay the whole cost," she said.

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North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in an interview the town is hosting the session because "there's no question the ideal way for this to go forward is for the wires to be buried. Nobody wants to see these poles."

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