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Aug 6, 2014 12:45 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

PSEG To Hold Hearing On Long-Range Plan In East Hampton

Aug 12, 2014 2:42 PM

At the urging of local officials, the State Department of Public Service will host a public hearing at the Emergency Services Building in East Hampton Village on August 26 regarding PSEG’s long-term plan for the East Hampton area and Suffolk County.

According to a memo from the Department of Public Service, the meeting will consist of two parts, an information session and a public statement hearing, and will give customers an opportunity to understand PSEG’s plan to implement “energy efficiency measures, distributed generation and advanced grid technology programs.” It will also allow customers to voice their opinions about PSEG’s services and projects thus far.

The utility company is required by the LIPA Reform Act to submit its long-range plan to the Department of Public Service for review, which is why the department is helping facilitate the meeting.

Local and state officials recently sent a letter to the department and the utility company requesting a public hearing be scheduled for East Hampton specifically, given the community backlash from PSEG’s ongoing transmission line project. Hearings will also be held in western Suffolk County.

The project to install a new 23/33-kilovolt transmission line from East Hampton to the Amagansett substation began in January but was halted in April after the town issued a stop-work order to the utility company for its failure to obtain a building permit and site-plan approval for the Amagansett substation.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who sent a letter to the Department of Public Service in July requesting a meeting in East Hampton, said he plans to attend the public hearing to address the plan’s lack of detail and the controversial project in the area.

Mr. Thiele said the plan, which is available to the public via PSEG’s website, identifies funds to be used for the South Fork given the area’s increased demand for electricity, but fails to demonstrate how projects will be executed.

“I don’t think you can finalize a plan without having specifics,” he said on Thursday, August 7. “I think part of the reason why PSEG has been in hot water is because people weren’t aware of what [the Long Island Power Authority’s] and then PSEG’s plan was. The purpose of the plan was to give an outline, and I think they’re going to have to fill in the blanks.”

Mr. Thiele said he also plans to address the need to bury transmission lines, comparing the overhead project in East Hampton to work that’s been done in California where lines are underground.

“All they’ve said is, ‘We’ll underground the line if the local people will pay for it,’ and that’s not a program,” said Mr. Thiele. “That’s something that will ensure we won’t ever underground them, because it’ll be too expensive. I don’t want to dwell on what is past, but clearly missing from the plan is a program and a plan to underground lines that local communities could consider as an alternative.”

While the public hearing is meant to address the long-range plan specifically, the department said it will not discourage people from speaking about PSEG’s project in East Hampton.

“While the public statement hearing in East Hampton is to receive public comment on PSEG Long Island’s Utility 2.0 Long Range Plan, DPS would not prohibit someone from commenting on any issue related to PSEG, or an issue related to DPS,” James Denn, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Service, said in an email. “To ensure that all members of the public wishing to comment on the Utility 2.0 plan will have enough time to speak, we ask the public be respectful of others to ensure that there is time available to receive the remarks of those who want to comment on the Utility 2.0 plan.”

The meeting is scheduled to start with an information session at 5 p.m. and a public comment session at 6 p.m. All public comments will be taken into consideration by the Department of Public Service, according to the memo.

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