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PSEG to challenge East Hampton stop-work order

PSEG Long Island said April 9, 2014, that

PSEG Long Island said April 9, 2014, that it will fight a stop-work order issued by East Hampton Town that has blocked part of a contested East-End transmission project. These newly erected utility poles are along Old Stone Highway in Amagansett on Feb. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: Brad Penner

PSEG Long Island Wednesday said it will file legal papers by Friday to squelch a stop-work order issued by East Hampton Town that has blocked part of a contested East-End transmission project.

In a move that escalates tensions between the town and the new utility operator, PSEG said it will seek a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction blocking the town from enforcing the order, which PSEG is complying with.

PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the company will seek a declaratory judgment in State Supreme Court asserting that LIPA is exempt from the town building code upon which the stop-work order was based. PSEG, he added, will cite LIPA's exemption from town building codes by the state Office of General Services.

PSEG will inform the town of its filing Thursday, Weir said, adding PSEG hopes for a hearing Friday or Monday, and for work to resume shortly thereafter.

Weir accused East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell of "not only wasting taxpayer dollars in fighting something he was aware of and supported," but also of "putting the entire reliability of the town of East Hampton in jeopardy" by delaying a needed transmission project.

East Hampton residents and officials have strenuously protested the 6-mile project, which has strung cables capable of carrying 33,000 volts on poles up to 65 feet high through village and town neighborhoods.

PSEG has made substantial progress on the project. All 267 poles are in the ground, and 13,600 feet of transmission cable, or 43 percent, has been strung on them. In addition, around a quarter of the local electrical distribution wires have been transferred to the larger poles, Weir said.

Cantwell Wednesday said he'd not yet heard from PSEG attorneys on the matter and couldn't comment.

East Hampton served the stop-work order at the LIPA Amagansett substation last week. Weir said it was attached to a fence.

"We ask applicants to comply with our zoning codes and planning rules and regulations every day and are accustomed to doing business and holding up the town code," Cantwell said. "We believe PSEG has a responsibility to comply with that code as well."

Cantwell alleged LIPA and PSEG "dug their own hole" by allowing National Grid last year to retire three generators in Montauk. "Why didn't they just replace the generators?" Cantwell said.

Cantwell said that he had retired as East Hampton village administrator two months before the village approved a permit for the project and that the town highway superintendent had approved the project months before he took over as town supervisor.

"The truth is their [PSEG's] credibility in this argument is at stake when they try to play this political game in alleging approvals I did not play a part in," he said. "They're being disingenuous when they try to tie me to an approval of this project which I never gave or voted on."

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