New power lines create discontent throughout the community

New+power+lines+create+discontent+throughout++the+community

PSEG Long Island erected 210 new power line poles on Port Boulevard. Residents For A More Beautiful Port Washington, along with others, expressed their displeasure with the new poles, which they believe are unappealing and unnecessary. many has fallen due to Super Storm Sandy.

Sally Kuan, Staff Writer

Members of the Port Washington community are sure to remember the extended power outages and other problems caused by Hurricane Sandy in late 2012.  As a result of the devastation, PSEG Long Island has taken action to better prepare the area for extreme weather conditions in the future.  Within the past year, roadside construction between Port Washington and Great Neck has increased as a result of new power system being installed.  Community members have been showing mixed reactions to this project.

“It is important to remember that PSEG Long Island is committed to delivering the best, most reliable solutions with the least impact to the Long Island rate payer,” said Director of Communications at PSEG Long Island Mr. Jeffrey Weir.  “We believe that this project meets that objective.”

In response to Sandy, PSEG Long Island decided early in 2013 to implement The Port Washington-Great Neck Overhead Transmission Project.  The organization’s reliability engineers evaluated local customer demand, determining the necessity of installing a new transmission circuit between Port Washington and Great Neck by the summer of 2014.

After the plan was assessed, construction promptly began and has continued since.  Old power lines are being replaced with an entirely new system involving larger, 80-foot poles and a 69 kV structure.  This new transmission circuit is expected to be more resistant to harsh storm weather, have higher capacity power, and be more reliable overall.  Intensive tree trimming and maintenance would be required to prolong the effects of the new arrangement.  The project is scheduled to be completed within the next two months, ending by May.

“The Port Washington-Great Neck Overhead Transmission meets the growing needs of North Hempstead residents and strengthens the system,” said Mr. Weir.

The issue stems from the fact that officials did not notify the public before its commencement.  Since construction began several months ago, many community members have taken note and commented on the project.  According to Weir, a number of members of the public have expressed their support for the project, especially given the extent to which Hurricane Sandy impacted the previous electric grid in the North Hempstead area.

“A number of community members have voiced their support of the project and welcome the enhanced reliability and storm hardening that this project brings to the region,” said Mr.Weir.

Some Schreiber students have also expressed support for the project.

“I think the new power lines being established are a great idea,” said senior Ryan O’Reilly.  “With these new power lines, and the policy of cutting tree branches near them, it is unlikely for the power system to fail again if another hurricane of such magnitude were to strike again, with scientific research and evidence suggesting that these high category hurricanes are only going to become more common in the future.”

Other local inhabitants are concerned about how the poles will change the visual appearance of the area.

“I honestly don’t think that the power lines should be a priority,” said junior Kim Winter.  “They’re really just an eyesore.  There are things that our town needs more and places where our money would be better spent.”

“While these power lines may look unsightly, I understand that they are for safety reasons, so I think it’s a good idea for the sake of preserving power in the case of a future storm,” said junior Elizabeth Muratore.

Nevertheless, others are still worried about possible dangers posed by the taller poles.

“I think that increasing the size of the poles is almost useless,” said junior Sameer Nanda. “I’m honestly just worried that the material they are made out of won’t sustain strong winds and that if they fell, there will be even more damage.”

However, just like with many capital improvement projects, there have also been questions from the community as to possible alternatives to the overhead pole-line project.

“I think that underground lines would be a better long-term solution than the larger electrical poles,” said junior Ilana Zweig.

There are several civic organizations that have reached out to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, requesting him to get involved and possibly stop the project completely.  In fact, a number of community members have created a website (www.keepthenorthshorebeautiful.com) as well as a Facebook page that is solely dedicated to stopping this project.

Another group that has responded strongly to PSEG Long Island’s project is the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington.  The community even scheduled a half-hour long 80 Pole Rally on Mar. 23, on the corner of Port Washington Boulevard and Revere Road.

The Board of Directors has also created a community petition.  The  petition will be sent to Governor Cuomo requests, among many things, that the new transmission lines be buried, that trees be pruned sensibly, and that the community be informed prior to beginning future projects.

In response to the widespread reactions of the population, PSEG Long Island offered a public informational meeting at the Harbor Links Clubhouse.

“We hear those concerns and welcome the sincere dialogue and discourse,” said Weir. “We are committed to hearing our customers, listening to the area’s elected officials and working to find an appropriate solution that meets the needs of all residents of the area and Long Island.”