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Shinnecock, PSEG LI reach agreement on electric cable

A trench for electrical service dug as part

A trench for electrical service dug as part of construction on the Shinnecock tribe's Westwood property between Sunrise Highway Exits 65 and 66 in Hampton Bays is pictured on April 29, 2019. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The Shinnecock Indian Nation has reached an agreement with PSEG Long Island and LIPA that provides for the Southampton tribe to receive payment for allowing the utility to run a cable under tribal land on Sunrise Highway.

Separately, PSEG at the tribe’s request hooked up electric service for a nearby tribal monument-billboard on Sunrise Highway in Hampton Bays.

Shinnecock tribal trustee chairman Bryan Polite said the agreement makes clear that the tribe has always been the rightful owner of the land under which the utility has run its cable, which is being upgraded to bolster reliability on the East End. Completion of the project is part of a $513 million South Fork grid upgrade to meet what the utility has said is increasing demand.

“The agreement highlights the nation’s sovereignty and our commitment to help the community,” Polite said.

Getting a power hookup for the tribal monument nearby on Sunrise Highway has allowed the tribe and its contractor to eliminate a diesel generator that had been powering the billboard, saving the tribe upward of $10,000 a month.

“We’re finally off the generator,” Polite said, noting the cost of fuel and rental had affected the economics of the project.

As part of the easement agreement with PSEG and the Long Island Power Authority, the tribe has received a payment from the utility of around $500,000 that covers the cost of the utility’s use for the past 20 years and for 20 years into the future, said Tela Troge, a tribal attorney. There are options to extend the agreement, which is for the south side of Sunrise Highway, to 60 years, she said.

The tribe plans to soon complete the billboard project with a second monument on the north side of Sunrise, where a supporting column for the structure is on the roadside and can quickly be set, she said. There are also plans for a tribal gas station/rest stop in the future, officials have said.

PSEG confirmed the cable easement agreement.

“PSEG Long Island, as LIPA’s agent, reached an agreement with the Shinnecock Indian Nation to obtain an easement along Sunrise Highway through the Shinnecock Nation’s territory,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler said. “We will use this easement to run an underground transmission line to upgrade the east end electric system.”

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