The Town of North Hempstead has hired a consultant to evaluate burying utility wires being hung on poles from Great Neck to Port Washington.
PSEG Long Island is installing high-voltage cable on 210 poles. The utility has said it is open to eventually burying the wires and removing the 85-foot poles, but the affected residents must pay for the work. It may cost between $4 million and $6 million for each mile to take down the poles and bury the wires, utility officials have said.
The town board voted 7-0 at last Tuesday's meeting to hire Power Cable Consultants of upstate Ballston Spa, for a cost not to exceed $25,000.
Dina De Giorgio, the councilwoman from Port Washington, said the consultant has analyzed similar projects across the country. "The town needs to have someone who is an expert in this area to advise us," De Giorgio said.
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the hiring has her full support.
Residents applauded the town's decision. De Giorgio acknowledged the proposal may not give the town teeth in forcing PSEG to take action, but it ensures "having the right information."
De Giorgio said last month the consultant "helps us to deal with PSEG -- we don't want to be getting the information solely from PSEG; we want to have our own consultant who's going to be advocating for us and our own community."
Residents have pushed for the project to be halted, but PSEG officials have said it must be finished before the summer and that the taller, more resilient poles are vital to ensure reliability. The area is at risk of outages if the poles are not installed, utility officials have said.
Residents also urged communication between the town and East Hampton residents. Residents there have urged PSEG to stop plans to install a 6-mile overhead transmission line through East Hampton village and town neighborhoods on poles up to 65 feet tall.