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Sep 5, 2017 2:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Cool Weather Kept Electrical Demand Low In East Hampton, Avoiding Need For Emergency Generators

Sep 5, 2017 3:40 PM

PSEG-Long Island says that thanks to the cool summer, the South Fork never maxed out its power supply, and portable emergency generators stationed at Montauk and East Hampton substations were employed just twice.

Despite concerns about energy deficits in the region this summer, the South Fork saw a peak load of just 252 megawatts this summer, compared to the 301 megawatts of peak demand that had been anticipated by PSEG. The regional power grid is currently able to deliver about 290 megawatts of power to the South Fork.

A spokesperson for PSEG, Elizabeth Flagler, said that the main reason for the lower demand this year was that especially hot days that had air conditioners working overtime were few and far between and never fell on a weekend or holiday, when the region's base demand is always highest. Before the summer, PSEG had for the first time stationed emergency natural gas-burning portable generators at South Fork substations on Buell Lane in East Hampton Village and Industrial Road in Montauk. The generators were capable of providing a boost of some 18 megawatts to the power grid—12 megawatts in East Hampton and 6 megawatts in Montauk—in the hopes of averting brownouts in the event of a spike in demand.

The generators in Montauk were turned on twice, once on June 25 as a precaution after a mechanical failure at the Montauk substation. The second time was July 3, when the region saw its highest demand and managers turned on the generator for just an hour and a half as a precaution against an unexpected issue causing a dip in supply.

The generators will be removed from both substations on September 30.

Despite their lack of use this year, Ms. Flagler said PSEG expects to need to station generators at the two substations again next year, and likely each summer through at least 2021. In 2022 the region is expected to start receiving up to 90 megawatts of energy from offshore wind turbines planned in the ocean east of Block Island.

The utility company plans to construct a new substation in Montauk starting next year, though the new station will not boost the supply to the region.

"This new station will not eliminate the need for temporary generation since we need battery storage plants, demand reduction program and additional transmission capability to reliably serve the South For load," Ms. Flagler said.

Part and parcel with the plans to construct the new substation is a proposal for a battery storage facility on a neighboring property off Shore Road, about a quarter mile from the existing substation. But while PSEG is not subject to review or approval by local regulatory boards, the battery project must win approval from the Town Planning Board and has been battered by public criticism, mostly directed at the utility company for choosing the site for the new substation.

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