LIPA and PSEG Long Island have agreed to remove 24 tall steel poles and instead bury the power line along a busy section of roadway in Eastport following outcry from residents and a lawsuit by Brookhaven Town.
Cost of the makeover could reach $13.5 million, PSEG said.
Under terms of a settlement, PSEG will remove the steel poles along a milelong stretch of Eastport Manor Road from the Sunrise Highway south service road to a LIPA substation on Montauk Highway. The poles, which are around 80 feet tall and some 9 feet around, are set in concrete foundations and carry heavy high-voltage transmission lines. The poles were placed in spring 2017 on LIPA rights of way near homes, businesses and a shopping center.
The agreement doesn’t address the nearly 200 additional steel poles that remain on a bucolic stretch of County Road 51 from Eastport to Riverhead in the pine barrens. Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, who said he was “happy” about the settlement, nevertheless expressed “concern” about the remaining poles, which have already been struck at least twice, once resulting in a traffic fatality.
“We are gravely concerned about the traffic safety aspect of these poles being so close to the roadway in what appears to be a violation of federal and state highway safety standards,” Romaine said.
PSEG spokesman David Gaier said the poles on Route 51 “were placed in compliance with, and meet all, applicable permitting and regulatory requirements.”
PSEG said removal of the steel poles on Eastport Manor Road and burying the power line are expected to be completed in 2020 after “permitting, procurement, engineering studies and design” work. Gaier said the cost estimated between $9 million and $13.5 million, would not “create an incremental increase for ratepayers,” coming from the utility’s capital budget.
Nearly all LIPA costs are ultimately paid by ratepayers.
PSEG chief operating officer Dan Eichhorn said the agreement, reached after talks with State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), “upholds our commitment to provide safety, reliability and customer satisfaction.”
PSEG in 2017 had previously agreed to remove the nearly one-mile stretch of poles, but withdrew the agreement after Brookhaven sued.