A group of North Lindenhurst residents is upset over plans to build a power substation in their neighborhood.
PSEG Long Island wants to build a substation on a LIPA-owned 200-foot by 200-foot vacant lot on the corner of Wellwood Avenue and Berry Street. The utility company in 2013 identified a need for more reliability in the area as part of a three-year forecast, according to PSEG Long Island spokesman Jeff Weir.
A substation takes in high voltage and brings it down to a lower voltage that can be used by surrounding homes and businesses. Without a substation, Weir said, over time there could be more power outages in the area.
The company approached Babylon Town with its plans about a year ago, said Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, and the town voiced its concerns over the chosen site. Schaffer said town officials asked PSEG to look at two other possible sites nearby, one owned by Pepsi and another owned by the MTA. The town has no jurisdiction over the utility company, Schaffer said.
Weir said the MTA site was determined to have potentially costly environmental issues but that PSEG is continuing to talk to Pepsi and other property owners in the area. “We are trying to find solutions that will address resident concerns,” he said.
Frances Orlando, an executive board member of the North Lindenhurst Civic Association, said she and other residents felt blindsided by PSEG’s plans, which were presented to the group during a meeting in March.
“We just got very annoyed about the way it was handled,” she said.
Weir said that PSEG representatives went door to door and spoke with several Berry Street homeowners in April 2015, and placed fliers about the substation in their mailboxes in May 2015.
However, Arnold Bergs, who lives a few houses down from the site on Berry Street, said the March meeting was the first he and many of his neighbors had heard about the substation. “This was totally out of the clear blue,” he said.
Orlando and Bergs said they also feel the town did not do enough to inform residents. “I just don’t think they put much attention to it,” Orlando said.
Schaffer said they were waiting to hear back from PSEG on the alternative sites they asked them to look into. “We were doing our job on behalf of residents,” he said.
Residents also suspiciously eyed a $5,000 PSEG donation to the civic received in December. Weir said the money came from a separate foundation that issues grants to community groups across Long Island. The $5,000 was a beautification and scholarship grant that the civic had applied for earlier that month, Weir said.
Ginny Going, president of the civic, said plans show lots of shrubbery so she supports the substation as a means of beautification. “That corner has been disgusting for years,” she said.
But residents who live near the site worry about possible health risks and falling property values.
“Have any studies been done on the impact?” Bergs said. “This was all done in the middle of the night without telling anyone.”