Workers plant a new utility pole at the intersection of...

Workers plant a new utility pole at the intersection of Gingerbread and Toilsome lanes in East Hampton on Feb. 20, 2014. Credit: Brad Penner

A 23,000-volt cable that was the subject of protests and a lawsuit in East Hampton has been energized with little fanfare, as PSEG Long Island and the village continue to negotiate a plan to eventually bury a section of the line.

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir confirmed that the 6.2-mile transmission line through residential neighborhoods and business areas of the village was powered up in June, even as the utility works to substantially upgrade a substation that had previously been the subject of a stop-work order by East Hampton Town.

Work on the Amagansett substation, where the new line terminates, will continue through next summer, Weir said. Upgrades will allow PSEG to remotely monitor and control switching and other functions, he said. Substations convert high-voltage power to lower voltages used in homes and business.

"I'm very upset about it," said village resident Rebecca Singer, who has transmission wires strung on two large poles outside her home.

PSEG has said the additional line could prevent large numbers of outages during the peak summer season, while the new, thicker poles are more resistant to high winds and storms.

Energizing the line comes as a state Supreme Court judge ruled last week that some claims in a state lawsuit by 20 East Hampton residents against PSEG and LIPA challenging the overhead line could continue to trial. PSEG had sought to dismiss the suit.

While acting Supreme Court Justice Andrew Tarantino dismissed claims that the line would lower home values and inflict emotional distress, he allowed that the project could violate environmental conservation law and amount to nuisance and trespass because of possible impacts from preservatives on the larger poles. Weir declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

PSEG and East Hampton village are negotiating a pact that would provide for putting about 1.5 miles of the cable underground in those residential areas, in a deal in which the utility and the village split the costs. That could cost between $6 million and $8 million, said Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who wants the line buried.

Thiele said his understanding was the negotiations for putting the cable underground were "going very well" with the village. He said he had not been aware that the transmission line had been energized.

PSEG's Weir confirmed the ongoing talks, saying they were "productive," but that a decision or "specifics about what might happen are premature."

East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell said he expected the line to be energized soon after a judge lifted a temporary restraining order following the town's legal efforts to stop work at the substation in the spring. "I'm not surprised it's up and running," he said when told the cable was energized. The town has filed an appeal of the state Supreme Court ruling in PSEG and LIPA's favor.

Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach didn't return a call seeking comment.

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