North Hempstead to consider double-pole law

Double poles align Maple Street in Manhasset on Double poles align Maple Street in Manhasset on Thursday, June 26, 2014. Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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The Town of North Hempstead is expected to consider a law next month requiring public utility companies to remove decommissioned utility poles.

The proposed "double-poles" law follows outrage on the North Shore over PSEG Long Island's placement of 80-foot-tall poles in a 5-mile stretch from Great Neck to Port Washington. More than 200 poles have been installed next to poles about half the size.

Though PSEG has vowed to coordinate removal of the old poles by year's end and work with the town to bury the lines if financing is arranged, Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the law "is more reassuring to me: There's actually going to be some consequences if in fact they don't come down."

Under the law, a utility company that has placed a pole next to an existing pole on a town highway or right of way must remove the first pole within 60 days. The penalty for violating the law is $500.

The issue, which has emerged in towns throughout Long Island in recent years, will be heard before the North Hempstead Town Board on July 15. Other municipalities with "double-pole" laws include Babylon and Southampton towns and Suffolk County.

"We want to make sure that PSEG in fact is true to their word of making sure these double poles are removed," Bosworth said. "This is our way of underscoring the fact that this is of great importance to us."

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Town officials said that in general, when a power company transfers lines to the new poles, other utilities such as telephone, television, and computer lines are notified and instructed to transfer their lines, too.

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said, "We don't deem this project complete until all the double woods are removed."

The town has hired a consultant to study the feasibility of removing the poles and burying the wires. Weir said the line has been energized and the installation of the more resilient poles was vital for ensuring reliability this summer.

Audrey Zibelman, chairwoman of the state Public Service Commission, agreed in a letter this month with PSEG estimates of $5.5 million per mile for the line-burying project.

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