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May 3, 2017 11:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

PSEG Power Line Upgrades Catch Eastport Residents Off-Guard

PSEG contractors are installing nealry 150 new electric poles along County Road 51 between Riverhead and Eastport, in an effort to bolster the power grid. GREG WEHNER
May 3, 2017 11:49 AM

Carolyn Ceruti had finally managed to fall asleep at around 4 a.m. one morning late last month, after completing a demanding late shift as a direct support professional for disabled clients, when her slumber was interrupted just a few short hours later by what she mistakenly thought at first was an earthquake.

Ms. Ceruti, whose home sits just off Eastport-Manor Road in Eastport, on the Brookhaven Town side of the hamlet, recalls her home shaking so violently on the morning of April 21 that shot glasses on a shelf in another room crashed to the floor, shattering.

When she looked outside her home, which sits just north of Olish Farm Stand, at around 7:30 a.m., Ms. Ceruti said she quickly ascertained where the noise—and vibrations—were coming from: A team of PSEG contractors was boring a large hole in her front yard, no more than 12 feet from her front door.

“I flagged down a worker the day before and asked him what was going on,” said Ms. Ceruti, 31, explaining that crews had placed a flag in her yard marking the location of water main. “He didn’t say he’d be using heavy equipment.”

It turns out that the workers were drilling a hole that will eventually accommodate a brand new metal utility pole that, according to PSEG officials, is needed to help bolster power transmission lines in the area.

The ongoing work in front of Ms. Ceruti’s home—crews had not yet installed the estimated 70-foot-tall metal pole as of earlier this week, though neighboring properties have new wooden poles already—is part of a larger plan that calls for upgrading the estimated 7.5-mile stretch of transmission lines between two of PSEG’s substations, one on Montauk Highway in Eastport and the other off Nugent Drive in Riverside.

As part of the work, crews began replacing last month an estimated 150 aging wooden poles along County Road 51 with new and taller metal ones.

Unlike earlier work completed in Quogue Village, PSEG is not relying on federal funding for the project, according to Jeffrey Weir, a spokesman.

Mr. Weir noted that the metal poles are typically 70 feet above grade when installed, though there could be some exceptions depending on the area’s topography. The wooden poles they are replacing, he added, vary between 60 and 70 feet in height.

The taller and more stable metal poles are needed, according to PSEG officials, so they can make upgrades to the 69-kilovolt power supply line that runs along the route, while also re0insulating the entire circuit. As part of the same work—PSEG officials have not stated how much they are investing in the upgrades—crews will also be replacing 25 wooden poles along the Long Island Power Authority’s right of way between Nugent Drive and County Road 51 in Riverside, and installing newer wooden poles along one side of Eastport-Manor Road, south of County Road 51.

The metal poles are needed to meet design requirements of the National Electric Safety Code and PSEG’s own needs to reinforce the power grid, Mr. Weir said. He explained that unlike their wooden counterparts, metal poles do not require treatment from time to time.

The ongoing upgrades are part of an islandwide effort to bolster PSEG’s power grid so it can hold up better when assaulted by extreme weather, such as hurricanes and heat waves, as well as supply additional energy in western Southampton Town, according to PSEG officials. Crews began the upgrades last month and the work is expected to continue through June.

In a press release, PSEG officials said the upgrades in Eastport “are necessary to keep pace with the growing demand for electricity in eastern Brookhaven and western Southampton.”

Unlike similar transmission line upgrades completed this spring in Quogue Village and East Quogue, which were funded with Federal Emergency Management Agency money, the work along the County Road 51 corridor is being financed entirely by PSEG, officials said.

As part of the upgrades in Southampton Town, PSEG also intends to install taller and wider wooden poles in the Village of North Haven, Bridgehampton, Noyac and unincorporated sections of Sag Harbor Village, though that work has been delayed until at least after the summer, Mr. Weir said, after residents in that community took issue with the height of the poles and urged PSEG to bury at least some of the lines.

What bothers Ms. Ceruti the most about the ongoing upgrades in Eastport, aside from the fact that an estimated 70-foot-tall metal pole will soon adorn her front yard, is that PSEG never alerted her about the work ahead of time. She said she found out what was happening only after being woken up by workers drilling a large hole in her front yard on April 21.

“There’s never been a need for a pole on the property,” said Ms. Ceruti, adding that she fears that the unwelcome addition will lower her property’s value by roughly 10 percent. “There’s never been one in my yard like that.”

Mr. Weir said he could not immediately confirm if the utility alerted property owners along the transmission route.

Ms. Ceruti also noted that this is not the first time her family has been inconvenienced. She explained that in the 1960s, when her grandmother, Lucille Ceruti, lived in the house, the government relied on eminent domain to assume ownership of roughly 12 feet of her property to accommodate the widening of Eastport-Manor Road. She says that now PSEG officials have claimed another five feet for the metal utility pole.

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Was the option of burying the lines even looked into? Or was it simply decided to that PSEG would dig holes next to the existing poles, pour footings, and then install new poles?

How about investigating the labor costs that are driving PSEG rates higher and higher to be most expensive in the country? 6 guys watch while 1 digs.
By Mouthampton (419), Southampton on May 4, 17 3:27 PM