Tag Archive | "PSEG Long Island"

PSEG Gets an Earful in East Hampton

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach, Jr., and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell listened to a presentation by Mike Voltz of PSEG and a public hearing at the East Hampton Emergency Services Building on Tuesday, August 26. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

There was hardly a spare seat in the house on Tuesday, August 26, for an informational session and public hearing hosted by the State Department of Public Services on PSEG Long Island’s Utility 2.0 Long-Range Plan.

PSEG Long Island, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based PSEG, submitted the plan to the DPS on July 1, and almost immediately came under fire for failing to provide specifics about it as well as its decision to install 50-to-65-foot utility poles through portions of East Hampton Village last winter.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. wrote a joint letter to PSEG, asking that it hold a public meeting in East Hampton because the utility targeted the East End for major upgrades in the plan.

“We believe the Utility 2.0 Long Range Plan needs clarification, detail and public discussion, and we urge a public dialogue for this plan for the Town and Village of East Hampton,” they wrote.

“This is a time my office can hear you, your concerns and take it all into account,” said Julia Bovey, director the New York State Department of Public Services, who hosted the meeting.

And hear from people she did, with many people lining up to once again voice their objections to the installation of the poles.

“They’re an assault on our very core,” said town resident Elena Prohaska Glynn.  “We cannot afford to despoil the landscape. Remove them; bury those lines,” she said to much applause from the audience on Tuesday night.

The new poles have resulted in the creation of two organizations—Save East Hampton and Long Island Businesses For Renewable Energy, a stop-work order issued by the town and even a lawsuit.

Some wore bright orange Save East Hampton t-shirts with “Bury The Lines” written on the back. Many of the orange shirt wearers spoke not about the new plan, but about what they feel to be a more pressing issue: the danger and unsightliness of the new, taller poles in the village.

“It’s not only a matter of aesthetics, it’s a matter of life and death,” said Helen Mendez. “Be the company that you say you are, help us have green solutions. Do what’s safe, do what’s right and bury the lines.”

All three elected officials who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting also called for the new lines to be buried, including State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

“They have been willing over and over again to tax themselves to protect the quality of life here,” he said of his constituents.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell also called for the lines to be buried, to thunderous applause.

Jeremy Samuelson, president of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, gave DPS and PSEG Long Island some “history.” He explained that the public meeting process prior to the installation of the taller poles left much to be desired. The process lacked any transparency or community engagement from the utility company, he said.

“You come back a year later, and you have to eat some crow,” he said to the representatives from the DPS and PSEG. “You guys got it wrong, so that’s the history.”

“The question is,” he continued, “are you going to be our partners in fixing this mess? This thing is an atrocity; I won’t sugarcoat it for you. So the question is: LIPA isn’t in charge anymore. Are you going to help us find the somewhere between $20 million and $30 million to fix this mess?” he asked.

Elected officials and environmentalists also seemed unsatisfied by the lack of consideration for the town’s existing policy. “With regard to the presentation: that is something we would like to see more of, alternatives to fossil fuels,” Mr. Thiele said.

“The town has adopted a very important and ambitious goal,” Mr. Cantwell said of East Hampton’s decision to power all of its community-wide electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020. “I would urge that the power sources on the South Fork be met with renewable energy sources,” he said.

Gordian Raacke, president of Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI) criticized the shortsightedness of the plan. “I know you will make sure that while PSEG may not be in the room anymore, they will hear our comments,” he said to Ms. Bovey—about 20 minutes prior to that, it had become apparent that Mike Voltz, the director of energy efficiency and renewables for PSEG Long Island, who gave an overview of the plan, had left the meeting in the middle of the hearing.

“The plan is not a 2.0 plan. At best it’s a utility 1.1. It’s more business as usual and fails to provide a vision for utility or the future,” he said. “Work with the Town of East Hampton, work with us to build a sustainable energy future and we’ll work with you.”

PSEG needs “to be a collaborator, not an opponent,” he added. “You need to propose a better plan.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation by Mr. Voltz, who tried to shed some light on the plan and presented a series of slides and bullet points.

Mr. Voltz discussed items on the five-year plan, including a call to spend approximately $60 million on energy saving steps over the next five years, including providing programmable thermostats to upward of 60,000 residential customers.

The plan also includes a four-year-long educational campaign, at a cost of $8 million, an energy efficiency expansion in the Rockaways, which was explained in great detail as well and a $15 million initiative that would aim to install 6,000 new advanced meters in hard-to-reach locations.

The information on South Fork improvements left much to be desired, according to some of those who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting. In that section of Mr. Voltz’s presentation, he discussed plans to use solar energy, battery storage and programmable thermostats, and also discussed the need for new generators to boost electricity output during periods of peak usage in Montauk, and other places. “They’re very old,” Mr. Voltz said of the generators, “they’re getting worn out.”

East Hampton Residents Sue PSEG LI and LIPA

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New power lines on Cedar Street in East Hampton. Photo by Mara Certic

 

By Mara Certic

Citing the presence of potentially dangerous toxins in electric utility lines being erected by PSEG Long Island in East Hampton Town, a group of residents has filed suit against the company and the Long Island Power Authority in New York State Supreme Court.

The Long Island Bureau For Responsible Energy (LIBFRE) filed the suit on behalf of a group of residents who live near the poles. It claims the overhead transmission lines will negatively affect wells and drinking water for the 300-plus people they represent.

A press release issued on Thursday by the group stated that an environmental review of the project by LIPA had “failed to disclose the adverse cumulative impact of the project on health, property values and alternatives, and intentionally misrepresented them.”

The group is being represented by former special counsel to Suffolk County, Irving Like, and Professor Leon Friedman who once represented the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who had been wrongly convicted of murder.

The suit claims that a banned chemical in 26 countries, pentachlorophenol (PCP), has been placed on wooden utility poles and has been leaching dangerous toxins into the soil in the surrounding area and is also emitting toxic gases into the air.

According to Rebecca Singer, co-chair of LIBFRE, the level of PCP in East Hampton soil was recently tested and was found to have more than 312 times the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s acceptable level.

PCP has been used as a wood preservative since 1936. It has also been used as an insecticide, an herbicide, a sealant, and a molluskicide, among others. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants showed that exposure to PCP can interfere with endocrine processes in humans and has been found to stunt brain development, impair memory and even cause infertility in women, the suit states.

A hydrogeologist’s report says that the PCP will contaminate East Hampton’s groundwater, eventually traveling into Hook, Georgica and Town Ponds.

The second concern in the suit is that the high voltage power lines that are being added to the existing lines might result in electromagnetic fields dangerously close to houses on narrow streets.

The suit also charges that the new utility poles are damaging trees and vegetation along the 6.2-mile route along which they have been installed. According to Thursday’s press release, experts have already noted that there has been damage done to the landscape.

The final cause of action is the suit is the claim that the high levels of PCPs in the soil and water have drastically devalued the property for all of the houses in close proximity to the new poles.

The complaint demands that the utility pole project be cancelled and restitution in excess of $30 million to cover attorneys’ fees, removal costs and emotional distress of the residents involved.

PSEG Phone Scams Continue on South Fork

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An ongoing scam attempting to get PSEG Long Island customers to fork over money under the threat of having electricity service terminated continued this week, with business owners on Main Street in Sag Harbor reporting they had received phone calls from an individual named “Anthony Garcia” stating they owed money to the utility and asking them to pay an outstanding bill over the phone.

On April 8, two business owners contacted Sag Harbor Village Police to report an attempted scam. According to police, while two businesses filed formal reports, other businesses reported similar phone calls with a man stating he would shut off electrical power if customers did not make payment within hours via a Green Dot Money Pak, a prepaid card available at local retailers.

This has been an ongoing scam and PSEG is aware of the situation, according to a “scam alert” section of the utility’s website. Email scams have also been reported. The utility urges any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of a call from PSEG, especially those where payment is requested, to call the company directly at 1-800-490-0025.

Solar Farm Pitched for East Hampton Airport

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The East Hampton Airport could be going green in a big way.

Tonight, the town board plans to accept the recommendation of its energy sustainability committee and seek proposals for a solar farm at the airport that could produce up to 38 megawatts as part of an initiative sponsored by the Long Island Power Authority and PSEG Long Island, the company that manages the island’s electrical grid.

The solar farm would sell the power it generates to PSEG Long Island, and share the proceeds with the town through a 20-year lease.

According to Frank Dalene, the chairman of the committee, the solar farm, which he said would be one of the largest town-owned facilities in the country, could generate up to $3.5 million a year for the life of the lease.

“It’s at step one,” said Supervisor Larry Cantwell, “but it’s exciting. Besides providing a source of sustainable energy, it has the potential to bring in revenue.”

Although Mr. Cantwell said Mr. Dalene’s revenue estimate may be on the optimistic side, he was quick to point out, “Even at $1 million a year that would go a long way toward funding airport improvements.”

Because the airport revenues and expenses are segregated into a separate fund, all revenue generated from a solar farm at the airport would have to be used on site.

Mr. Dalene said the proposal is still in the early stages. “There are a lot of variables,” he said. PSEG Long Island “has to approve the contractors, the site and how it connects to the grid.”

Still, he said, in this latest phase, the company has committed to sponsoring larger renewable energy projects that could generate a total of 280 megawatts islandwide.

“They are looking for the East End to fulfill a certain amount of the need,” he said. “The transmission lines are beyond their peak, the local power stations on Buell Lane and Southampton are at capacity, so they are really going to focus on the East End.”

According to the Long Island Power Authority, the typical Long Island house uses 9,548 kilowatts of energy a year. Mr. Dalene said a 38-megwatt solar farm could generate nearly 46 million kilowatts a year, enough to provide power to approximately 4,600 houses, although he added, “It’s safe to say the typical East Hampton house consumes more electricity than a typical Long Island house.”

Last month, the town board agreed to ask three contractors to provide smaller solar arrays of no more than 2 megawatts apiece at 10 town-owned sites.

The board will also seek proposals for the energy committee’s recommendation to solicit proposals for peak power energy storage centers that would use new fuel cell battery technology to store electricity that is generated during low-volume use periods for release during peak periods. The battery plants would play a similar role to the small diesel operated power plants that are scattered across Long Island.

The town must renew the proposals it receives and make its recommendations to PSEG and LIPA by March 31.