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Shelter Island rejects substation proposal

In a unanimous vote, the Shelter Island town

In a unanimous vote, the Shelter Island town board on Friday, May 29, 2015, "firmly rejected" PSEG's proposal for an electric substation, calling it "industrial in nature." Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Shelter Island Town Board's passage of a resolution rejecting PSEG Long Island's latest plan for an electric substation is another setback to a yearslong effort to replace a critical power link to the island.

In a unanimous vote, the Shelter Island board on Friday "firmly rejected" the notion of a substation, calling it "industrial in nature."

"We don't have any industrial zone on Shelter Island," Councilman Peter Reich said.

Substations convert higher voltage power from plants and transmission lines to lower voltages for homes and businesses. "A lot of residents were concerned about fires," along with the 24/7 "hum" of a substation, Reich said.

Shelter Island has two working undersea cables from the North and South forks, but failure of either during the summer could cause power disruptions.

In rejecting the substation, the Shelter Island board urged PSEG to pursue replacement of a third underwater cable, from Southold. Failure of that cable led to an unsuccessful attempt to replace it in 2013, one that riled Southold residents for months with noise, debris and heavy equipment.

Scott Russell, Southold's supervisor, Monday rejected the notion of revisiting the cable, saying use of Southold roads and beaches was not an option.

Shelter Island residents, Russell said, "Need to make a decision: Either find a location for the substation or make do without an upgrade."

Passage of the Shelter Island resolution followed months of preparation by PSEG to accommodate Shelter Islanders with a substation plan that addressed residents' concerns about noise and safety. Residents rejected it in a meeting with PSEG last week, Reich said.

While it devises a new plan, PSEG will resort to temporary generators on the island, at a cost of $650,000, excluding fuel. The generators, 12 megawatts in all, will be installed next week on the same parcel that the substation had been planned for, and will remain in place through the end of September, PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said.

Weir said the company was "still examining all other options" for Shelter Island. PSEG officials were not available to discuss them.

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