The Long Island Power Authority has started a transmission-line upgrade that officials said will be needed next year to deal with growing power demands on the East End.
Work on the $6.5-million project involves replacing insulators on a 10.6-mile stretch of transmission line so that it can carry 138 kilovolts, rather than its current rating of 69 kilovolts. The power line itself won't need replacing.
"We still have growth on the East End," said Michael Hervey, LIPA chief operating officer. "This is just one of a series of upgrades we've done over the years."
The power transmission line runs from Wildwood to a substation in Riverhead, and is a key link in transmitting electricity to the North and South forks. Wildwood is where two generators at Shoreham produce power, and where a cross-sound cable serves as an additional source of electricity. It also links the high-power transmission system to Port Jefferson and Holtsville.
While the East End does not have the big commercial and industrial users that increase demand for electric power elsewhere on Long Island, power demands have grown steadily on the East End, increasing by 5.2 percent a year from 2000 to 2006, according to LIPA. Officials said most of the growth can be attributed to growing residential use and the growing business district along Route 58 in Riverhead.
"When LIPA took over in 1998 [from LILCO], one of the first things we discovered was that the East End was really underserved from the transmission standpoint," Hervey said, adding that several additional improvements are planned for the next few years. "If we see dramatic growth start to happen, it's just a matter of moving them up."