Debate Growing Over Unexpected Power Pole Installations On Eastern Long Island

EASTPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of 80-foot tall steel power poles are going up along a business and residential district of an east end farming community.

Locals complain that their rich landscape now looks industrialized.

“I just have one question,” Eastport Village resident Donny Olish said as he pointed towards the imposing, recently installed 80-foot poles which loom in front of his landmark farm stand, “how did this happen?”

Residents like Olish claim the tiny hamlet of 2,000 residents was blindsided by PSEG.

“They are massive poles and we don’t need them in this small town,” the Suffolk County merchant tells CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan. “No one was notified.”

The utility company says the new poles will help keep the lights on. The 175 steel transmission poles — replacing shorter, thinner, and aging wooden ones — going up from Riverhead to Eastport are necessary to upgrade service in hurricane-prone areas, according to PSEG.

The new poles have twice the circumference — about eight feet at the base — and are being strung with thicker cable than their wooden predecessors, resulting in a much higher power capacity.

“I think they’re really an eyesore and it’s very distracting,” one woman said.

“It really makes it look industrial,” another woman said. “I really don’t think it’s fair to the community.”

The steel power poles are being installed adjacent to preserved lands in a quaint community, part of the reason for the “Not In My Backyard” sentiment around the area. Still, some agree they’re badly needed.

“I don’t see any issue at all, I think it’s an upgrade,” one man said.

“The other outfit didn’t do anything,” another man said, adding he thinks this means PSEG is keeping their pledge to enhance service to Long Islanders.

PSEG is spending millions of dollars to relieve the growing electrical demand out east.

“We made a commitment to our customers to have a safer, more reliant, more resilient electric system for them,” PSEG Long Island Spokesman Jeff Weir tells CBS2.

High voltage power lines to the Hamptons, wind farms, storage batteries — these projects will eventually add $3.67 per month to typical ratepayer bills across Long Island.

The town council is now interceding.

“The poles are totally out of character,” Brookhaven Town Councilman Daniel Panico says. “I think it even shocked the representatives from PSEG how out of character they are, and I believe and I hope they will put their best foot forward, otherwise the town will weigh all our options on behalf of our residents.”

Council members meet again with PSEG representatives in two weeks in hopes of finding a resolution that could even include burying the cables below the community.

PSEG says it costs seven to nine million dollars per mile to bury the 69,000 volt lines, roughly double the cost of hanging them on poles.

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