Virginia and Tom Hessler of McGuirk Street in East Hampton were alarmed when they saw a Long Island Power Authority stake on their front lawn. Rumor had it, so said their neighbors, that a “pole” was to be installed there.
So, when they heard that LIPA was planning to build a new and improved electrical system in town and was holding a meeting to discuss it, the couple showed up last Thursday at the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street. The power authority had about a dozen personnel and several tripods at the meeting, with maps indicating the proposed location of poles, fuses, and the like.
Officials explained that the authority plans not only to expand much of its distribution system but also to upgrade it. Power usage on the South Fork, according to its charts, is the highest on Long Island, having increased more than three times as much in every year since 2004 as the rest of the island.
The $16 million project would construct a new transmission grid, to go east for 6.2 miles from the East Hampton substation behind Cove Hollow Road, up Buell Lane Extension to Toilsome Lane, to King Street, along McGuirk Street, Cooper Lane, Cedar Street, Collins Avenue, and Accabonac Highway onto Town Lane, where roughly two-thirds of the line will be hung, ending at the Amagansett substation on Old Stone Highway, near the intersection of Route 27 and the railroad tracks.
Some 250 utility poles will be replaced in the process, affecting about 4,000 customers of the utility. The new ones will withstand winds of up to 130 miles an hour, said LIPA officials.
The “targeted path” was mapped out to “be the least obtrusive and avoid the commercial area as much as we could,” said Nicholas Lizanich, a LIPA vice president. Thinking ahead to possible “catastrophic storms in the future,” he said, the utility “wants to be in the position to handle it.” Mr. Lizanich called the existing poles “flimsy,” saying that “I can’t guarantee they aren’t going to fall during hurricanes.” The new ones will be both taller and thicker — 40, 50, or 55 feet high depending on location.
There was some discussion of burying the lines, but officials said the cost — more than twice the cost of replacing the poles — would be prohibitive.
Ms. Hessler and other residents present appeared more than satisfied at the end of the forum, which was over in about an hour thanks to a light turnout. “I think it’s a great thing for the majority of people,” she said.
East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach was on hand with Richard Lawler and Albert Edwards of the village board to get feedback. “We’ve had a lot of back-and-forth with the citizens,” said the mayor. “This was a vehicle of transparency to let the residents affected know” LIPA’s plans.
The power authority, which is still in the process of getting approvals, hopes to begin construction by early January or possibly December, and to finish by June in time for the summer influx.