The ongoing work to upgrade electricity transmission lines at the Long Island Power Authority’s Amagansett substation has residents upset about the aesthetic character of the facility near the hamlet’s Long Island Rail Road station.
The upgrade project, intended to improve service reliability by making the transmission grid more resilient to extreme weather, necessitated the removal of much of the vegetation on and around the 2.34-acre site, leaving it and a chainlink fence that now rings 20,130 square feet of it highly visible to passers-by.
Currently, two 23-kilovolt transmission lines running on a single power line supply electricity to East Hampton and areas to the east, said Jeffrey Weir, a spokesman for PSEG Long Island, which assumed operation of LIPA’s electrical transmission and distribution system on Jan. 1. “In a severe storm with high winds, there is the potential to lose that single line, which would result in a complete loss of power to those neighborhoods,” he said.
To prevent blackouts in the event of existing transmission infrastructure failure, a new transmission circuit between East Hampton and Amagansett is required, Mr. Weir said. The upgrade also calls for replacement of existing distribution poles with poles that can withstand winds of up to 130 miles per hour. “This project will strengthen our system and decrease chances that the system will fail during a storm,” Mr. Weir said. Work is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.
Members of the Amagansett Village Improvement Society are among the residents upset with changes to the property, which they feel is unsightly. “I think it’s awful looking,” said Joan Tulp, of AVIS and the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee. “I hope they will agree to put trees around there and pay for them.”
Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who was until recently the town board’s liaison to the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee, said at the board’s work session on Tuesday that the Planning Department had created a suggested landscaping plan, calling for indigenous and deer-resistant plantings both inside and outside the perimeter of the chain-link fence, and that the electric company had indicated a willingness to do the work.
She said she would be meeting at the site with PSEG representatives in the coming weeks. “In the long run, we’re going to get a landscape plan that’s going to work for the town,” she said, “and not look quite so urban.”
“We are absolutely working with the town and community of Amagansett to discuss landscaping elements of the project,” Mr. Weir said on Friday. “We are having those dialogues now to make sure that it is done well.”
Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said he and Supervisor Larry Cantwell, along with Highway Superintendent Steve Lynch, have met with PSEG officials, who are reviewing the power system and would be trimming trees close to the primary power lines. The company’s protocol, he said, calls for branches to be cleared around the lines in an eight-foot diameter.
To protect trees from permanent damage, town officials asked that the power company consult an arborist before doing trim work, and were assured that one would be called in.
The company also said that it would remove the old utility poles in places where lines are being transferred to new poles, as soon as possible, Mr. Cantwell reported.
With Reporting By Joanne Pilgrim