PSEG and Town at Odds

A meeting that was to have happened last week between local officials and representatives of PSEG Long Island did not take place. Its purpose was to discuss the future of the electric utility’s six-mile transmission line project through East Hampton Town.

According to Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, PSEG has maintained the stance that if East Hampton residents want the new high-tension overhead transmission lines buried, the community must bear the entire cost.

The company, said Jeffrey Weir, a spokesman, yesterday, does not agree with the scenario laid out in a letter from East End local and regional elected representatives, similar to one used five years ago in Southampton, when the utility, then the Long Island Power Authority, charged all its ratepayers for the base cost of extending lines overhead, and town residents within a town-designated affected area for the extra costs of burying them.

“We feel that it does not apply to the project in East Hampton,” Mr. Weir said.

According to PSEG, which has completed its installation of new, larger poles along the transmission line route from East Hampton Village to Amagansett — and has insisted that the overhead work must be completed before summer, even if lines are eventually to be buried — the cost of the entire project, including what has been done and future modifications, would reach $28.6 million.

“At the moment, it’s a standoff,” Mr. Cantwell said Monday. “But I’m going to do what I can to break the ice.”  He said that PSEG had indicated that discussions with the town will not continue until any modification of the project is “100 percent funded.”

However, Mr. Weir said that PSEG “will continue to have regular dialogue with our local officials out there,” and remain “committed to finding a win-win solution.”

 “I’m going to continue to press the case at the highest level of state government,” Mr. Cantwell said, reaching out to the governor and the head of the  Public Service Commission “to appeal PSEG’s decision.”

The supervisor called it “troubling” that after Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced in January, with Vice President Joe Biden by his side, a $17 billion project to bury up to 500 miles of overhead transmission lines, including $1.3 million specifically to improve the state’s energy transmission system, he has “failed to respond” to the PSEG issue in East Hampton.

Local residents who have formed Save East Hampton: Safe Responsible Energy to protest the overhead lines and advocate for burying them canceled a rally last weekend because of bad weather. It will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Hook Mill in East Hampton Village.