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RVC seeking upgrade to its connection to LIPA electric grid

PSEG Long Island has “ignored” or “dismissed” the Village of Rockville Centre’s long-standing requests for upgrades to its antiquated connection to the LIPA system, resulting in 24 “major” outages since 2013, the village said in a recent filing.

In papers submitted to the state Public Service Commission tied to PSEG’s plans for a major new underground cable through western Nassau, Rockville Centre asks PSEG to consider rerouting the new line to help address the problems, which affect tens of thousands of customers.

PSEG in a later filing said it will begin negotiations next month to settle the village’s complaints.

Rockville Centre at the end of May raised objections to the $176 million PSEG project, which involves tunneling underground more than seven miles to lay the 138,000-volt cable from Uniondale to Lynbrook, to improve reliability.

In its May 30 filing, Rockville Centre, which has its own municipal electric utility but depends on a link to the LIPA system, criticized the reliability of the three existing LIPA transmission line connections. Rockville Centre’s utility operates a power plant but gets the bulk of its power via a New York Power Authority link to inexpensive upstate hydropower from Niagara Falls.

“Despite numerous attempts over several years to raise our concerns about reliability and the need for upgrades, PSEG Long Island has ignored those pleas, or simply dismissed our concerns,” the letter, from Philip Andreas, superintendent of the Rockville Centre electric company, states.

The village charged that PSEG has alternately tried to say the problem is not PSEG’s to resolve, or that PSEG has proposed solutions to the problem that were too expensive, Andreas wrote.

PSEG in a written response to Newsday said, “We have recently met with the municipality to address its concerns and plan to have further discussions in the near future. We are dedicated to providing Rockville Centre and all of our customers with excellent customer service.”

Andreas, who did not a return a call seeking comment, wrote that PSEG’s plan for the new 138,000-volt line “does not address our transmission needs.”

Work on the cable is expected to start in mid-2019 and continue for 18 months.

Rockville Centre’s utility serves 10,000 electric accounts, amounting to 25,000 residents and businesses. In its filing it charged that PSEG reports outages on the Rockville Centre system as “one customer outage,” despite the much larger number of people affected.

The 24 outages in Rockville Centre since 2013 were all “caused by the LIPA system,” which is “under the control of PSEG,” Andreas wrote. Traffic signals go dark, “leading to chaos and vehicle accidents and injuries,” he wrote. The connection also feeds a section of Long Island Rail Road.

Cost estimates to upgrade the three high-voltage transmission lines by PSEG have amounted to $50 million or more, the filing states, “which seems grossly inflated.”

The village is requesting that the state, which is reviewing PSEG’s request to install the new cable, reject PSEG’s filing and instead consider a route that Rockville Centre favors to fix the village’s power problems.

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